Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Worst book I've read on men's ministry ...

"Building A Ministry Of Spiritual Mentoring" by Jim Grassi (published by Thomas Nelson) is the worst book I've read on the subject of building a men's ministry.

With that clear statement made, I'm not implying there aren't some good ideas in the book. But let me share with you some of the things I found very wrong with this book.

Let's start with the title. There's a real and distinct difference between mentoring and discipling, which the author acknowledges, but then states he will use the terms interchangeably in the book. Bad decision. There are times where he's really talking about mentoring, but other times he's clearly meaning discipleship, but the reader can become confused by the choice of words. I wonder if the author didn't sometimes become confused himself, because sometimes he would write something like "mentoring (discipling)" to provide clarification, which was something he was supposed to not have to do based on his claim the words could clearly be used interchangeably.

The biggest issue I have with this book is if someone applied the content of what they read, they could put together a classic men's ministry program, most of which I have seen fail. The author almost completely fails at teaching that ministry is first a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and "successful" ministry must be birthed from significant time in and guidance from the Word of God, significant time in and reliance upon prayer, and a whole-hearted reliance on the Holy Spirit. Instead, the author focuses most of his writing about developing something that is heavily programmatic and event driven, coming from a ministry formula that is more a business model than a spiritual approach to ministry.

The book contains significant repetition of content with the writer driving home again and again the need to assess, plan, and deploy resources mostly to achieve successful programs or events. Lots of buzzwords are tossed about, and there's even a classic referral to the movie "Braveheart," as if it's unimaginable to talk of men's ministry without mentioning this Mel Gibson movie.

The ideas in this book are not communicated concisely or even comprehensively, but are scattered throughout the paperback. And the content itself is basic, ordinary information about the need to reach men, and how to pull off a successful program. But nothing of significance is offered as a cutting edge and focused philosophy of ministry to men, or a theology of ministry, or putting the reader in the right spiritual frame of mind to effectively move them into the nuts and bolts of the steps for developing a dynamic ministry to men.

The physical book itself is somewhat confusing. On the cover is the phrase, "A Romans 12 Disciple" and there's the slightest of mentions to this book being a part of a series of books. A page at the end of the book refers to three other books in a series, but the reader doesn't have any real information about this being one book in a series that works together. Further issues include a boring cover, odd chapter sub-headings such as "Assessment" and "Blueprint" that are not explained to the reader, we just have to guess what the purpose of that section in the chapter is for.

Even the very brief Bible studies located at the end of each chapter often didn't make sense to me, as I often found the topic didn't directly or strongly relate to the content of the chapter.

There are some good books out there on the topic of why there is a need for ministry to men, and how to build such a ministry and accomplish it well. This is not one of them.

Scotty

I received this book free from HarperCollins Christian Publishing as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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