Books

Successful Christian Ministry

I love cooking. Sometimes I discover a new recipe that I am keen to try out on the family. At other times I pull out one my ‘classics’, a recipe that I have used before that everyone already loves. One of those classics is a roast chicken and vegetable meal based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. It is delicious! No wonder it is a hit every time I cook it up. This time last week I was in Adelaide speaking at a ministers' conference for about 250 church leaders. The theme was ‘Growing Leaders to Grow the Church.’ Any time... Read more →


Pass the Baton: Successful Leadership Transition

CityLife Church, located in Melbourne Australia, had three Senior Ministers in the first 50 years of it's history. Richard Holland was the founding pastor and led the church for 20 years, followed by my father, Kevin Conner, who led the church for the next 8 years. I was the Senior Minister for the next 22 years before passing the baton in February of this year to Andrew Hill. [Read my announcement on 28th February 2016] Like any relay race, passing the baton effectively is vital for any organisation, including a local church. I wrote about this a few years ago,... Read more →


Prison Break: Finding Personal Freedom

The BLOG posts from the last few days about worry are a summary of a chapter entitled "Freedom from Worry" in the best-selling book Prison Break: Finding Personal Freedom. The rest of the book contains similar practical teaching about: Freedom from Fear Freedom from Anger Freedom from Depression Freedom from Rejection Freedom from Addictions Freedom from Spiritual Bondages You can purchase a paperback version of this book from WORD Australia OR a digital eBook version from Amazon. The eBook version can be read on the Kindle APP which is available for FREE for all devices (phones, tablets, etc) and operation... Read more →


De-Cluttering my Library

Confession time - I love books! There is a certain joy in buying a new book and putting it on your shelf ... even if you haven't yet read the last 10 books you have bought. Book addicts understand this. Other people just don't get it. As a kid, if my parents visited friends and there were no kids to play with, after dinner, I'd sit by their bookshelf and browse through their books. If they had an encylopedia set, I was elated. I loved reading and learning new things. I guess, at heart I I'm a bit of a... Read more →


2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year: Child Arise! The Courage to Stand

I am priviledged to be one of the judges for the annual Australian Christian Book of the Year. We are pleased to announce that this year's award goes to Child Arise! The Courage to Stand: A Spiritual Handbook for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Jane N Dowling. Here is the summary: Knowing that God speaks to us when we read the Bible, Jane Dowling prayerfully applies God’s Word to the experience of living with the long-term effects of sexual abuse, including abuse by clergy. Her reflections are gentle, almost tremulous. Jesus shows her the way from ruin and despair to... Read more →


The 2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year

The following titles have been shortlisted for the 2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award. ‘Post-God Nation: How Religion Fell Off the Radar in Australia and What Might be Done to Get It Back On’, Roy Williams, ABC Books. ‘Understanding Jesus and Muhammad: What the Ancient Texts Say About Them’, Bernie Power, Acorn Press. ‘Zechariah: The Lord Returns’, Michael R Stead, Aquila Press. ‘Leon Morris’, Neil Bach, Authentic Media ltd. ‘Child Arise! The Courage to Stand’, Jane N. Dowling, David Lovell Publishing. ‘The Anonymous Leader’, Ralph Mayhew. ‘Maralinga's Long Shadow’, Christobel Mattingley, Allen & Unwin. ‘Trumped By Grace’, Peter... Read more →


Transforming Your Church

When I became the Senior Minister of CityLife Church back in 1995, I invested extensive time in prayer, study, research and reflection about principles for building a healthy and effective church. As a result, I was prompted to lead our church through seven "strategic shifts" over the next few years. This has resulted in much positive change and impact. Over the years, I have taught this material to many pastors and church leaders. Eventually, these principles were put into a book called Help Your Church Change and eventually an international version titled Transforming Your Church: Seven Strategic Shifts to Help... Read more →


Prison Break: Finding Personal Freedom

Quite a few years ago now, we conducted a survey in our church. One of the open-ended questions was: "I wish someone would preach about ..." We collated the answers and I have enough to preach on until Jesus comes back! Actually, what surprised me the most at the time was the fact that people wanted to hear messages about dealing with common challenges such as worry, fear, anger, depression and rejection. These weren't subjects we were speaking on very often and as a result we were not "scratching where people were itching!" After this survey, we crafted a series... Read more →


Blinkist - a Great Personal Growth App

Have you ever noticed that there is so much to learn and so little time! We live in an age of informaiton overload. We don't lack knowledge, just the ability to process it sufficiently and make meaning out of it all. Learning how to read more effectively can be a help as can book summaries. Recently, I came across an App called Blinkist. Blinkist takes great works of non-fiction and distills them into powerful, made-for-mobile units. The blinks, 2-minute-reads built around memorable key messages, give you the main concepts of an entire book in 15 minutes. Choose audio or text.... Read more →


Global Megatrends: Seven Patterns of Change Shaping Our Future

We live in a time of rapid change. Yesterday is gone. Today is momentary. Tomorrow is never far away, though never guaranteed. We are called to live in the present, while learning from history and yet looking toward a better tomorrow. Our God is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. The Great I AM - past, present and future are all one to Him. Futurists study the future, yet no one can fully predict what it will be like. Stefan Hajkowicz has been thinking for the last twenty years about how people plan for an... Read more →


Wish You Could Read Faster?

We live in a time of information explosion. There is so much to learn and so little time to read and digest everything we'd like to know. There is no best way to read but there are a great many strategies you can use. Think of them more as options rather than rules. Try them out and then decide which ones work best for you. Faster reading skills will enable you to read more in less time, have better concentration, understand material with greater depth and accuracy, retain information better and enjoy reading more. My Top Tips for Reading Non-Fiction:... Read more →


2015 Australian Christian Book of the Year

The Australian Christian Book of the Year Award is given annually to an original book written by an Australian citizen. The award recognises and encourages excellence in Australian Christian writing. The ACBOTY Award carries a prize of $3,000 for the author, and a framed certificate for the author and publisher. Entries are judged with an eye to the: Original nature of the work. Literary style, including suitability for the target audience. Design, layout, cover, text and illustrations. Contribution that the book makes in meeting a need for Christian writing in the Australian situation and in the Australian market. Entries are... Read more →


A Personal MBA

Jesus once said that the children of this world are sometimes wiser than the children of light. That wasn't a compliment! We can learn a lot from those who achieve and accomplish things in fields such as business, arts, sport or leadership. There is wisdom to be gained from the experience of others. In the business world, the most desired education is an MBA - a Masters in Business Administration. People will often pay a lot of money to earn such a degree, and especially from some of the most reputable universities around the world. Josh Kaufman begs to differ.... Read more →


Book Review: The Essentialist - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

One of the best books I have read over the last few months is The Essentialist - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It is a very challenging book that forces you to think through what is most important in life (the essentials) and focus on that, often requiring the elimination of the less important (the trivial). Here are a few excerpts: The Problem We stretched too thin, overworked, busy but not productive, constantly in motion, never getting anywhere and trying to please everyone. The way out is becoming an Essentialist. It’s not a time-management strategy, but rather... Read more →


God is with you NOW

Here is a quote from Gregory Boyd's helpful book Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now. When many Christians first hear about the practice of the presence of God, it strikes them as an impossible discipline. Perhaps supersaints locked up in monasteries can attain this level of awareness, but not us average folk who work nine-to-five jobs and raise families! It’s hard enough to pray ten minutes a day and make it to church once a week! For us ordinary Christians, trying to remain aware of God’s presence moment-by-moment seems like a hyperspiritual pipe dream. Are you awake? If you’re... Read more →


Eat Move Sleep by Tom Wrath

Physical health gives us the energy to enjoy life and carry out our God-given purpose with enthusiasm. God is interested in every part of our being - spirit, soul and body. Health doesn't just happen. It is the result of habits. Habits such as what we eat, the activity we engage in, and the rest we take. I highly recommend Tom Wrath's practical book Eat Move Sleep which is about the big impact of small daily choices. It's an easy read but highly motivational and full of good advice for improving your health and well-being. Well worth the investment. Read more →


The Great Bible Swindle (Australian Chrisitan Book of the Year)

A book that is not aimed at Christians has won the Australian Christian Book of the Year for 2014. The Great Bible Swindle is a book designed for Christians to give to “Uncle Fred”, a relative or friend who expresses curiosity about the Bible. It leads the reader gently into an understanding of the wonder of the Bible. It was written by Greg Clarke, CEO of Bible Society Australia, who in the wake of a long love affair with the Bible, has a passion to share his love of the book, and the big story within it. The “Swindle” in... Read more →


Next: Pastoral Succession that Works (by Warren Bird)

Warren Bird and William Vanderbloemen have written an excellent and much-needed book about leadership succession within the local church: Next - Pastoral Succession that Works. The book is based on over 200 case studies and 50 in-depth interviews with pastors and churches who have navigated the succession territory - either effectively or badly. There is much to learn here on this essential topic. Here are a few key insights and facts from the book: Every pastor is an interim pastor. The day when a successor takes over will come for everyone in ministry. Planning for that day of succession may... Read more →


Les Miserables

Two weeks ago, my family and I attended the Les Miserables stage production at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne. It is one of our favourite productions. We have watched the 25th annviersary edition DVD recorded at the London O2 arena a dozen or so times and it never fails to move us (the finale, which is a 30 minute standing ovation and encore that brought the 1985 cast on-stage, is worth the price of the DVD). The Australian cast did an outstanding job too. The story, based on the book by Victor Hugo, is so redemptive and it captures and... Read more →


Soul Keeping

John Ortberg's latest book is called Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You. John is a well-known pastor, speaker and best-selling author from the USA. In this excellent book, he delves into the inner world of our soul, exposing what the soul needs and showing how it can be restored. John, who has a doctorate in both theology and psychology, is an engaging writer, drawing insights from Scripture, human experience, his own personal life, as well as his unique mentoring relationship with the late Dallas Willard. If you're looking for a challenging and insightful devotional book, then... Read more →