Deep Skimming: What Would You Recommend?

In the last few weeks, we have been focusing on beginnings. We have begun a new academic year at Calvin Seminary. One of those days began with faculty processing in their academic regalia for Convocation and ended with some of those same faculty members wearing shorts for a seminary-wide picnic. It has been a good beginning.

Last month I asked for your help in co-teaching the Leadership in Ministry course at Calvin Seminary. Thank you for the great insights and questions that were provided. Some of this conversation was picked up on the Christian Reformed Church Network website and you can read additional challenges and encouragements that were received in that format by going to the CRCNA Network. I will be reading many of your comments in class to help our students know of your interest and wisdom.

There are a number of resources that were referenced, but it might be helpful for you to know some of what our students have read or will be reading.

Here is the book list:

Open Secrets: A Spiritual Journey Through a Country Church by Richard Lischer
The Leaders’ Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation by Herrington, Creech and Taylor
One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gary McIntosh
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
The Unity Factor: Developing a Healthy Church Leadership Team by Larry Osborne
Strengthfinders 2.0 by Tom Rath
The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero with Warren Bird
Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry by William Willimon

There are many other readings that will be assigned, but these books will help form the conversation.

The reality is that most seminarians and even presidents are asked – “Do You Read All Those Books?” A student said that when he is asked that he responds – “Some even twice!” (He did a good job of evading the question which I appreciated as a former attorney.)

One of the skill exercises that we are introducing in our class is the skill of “deep skimming”. Over twenty years ago, I sat under the teaching of then Professor Neal Plantinga. As one of the key exercises, he gave us a book list and asked us to dip into the book for one hour only to get what you can out of it and then write a paper on what you know of the book. It was one of those key exercises that can be so helpful in surveying a lot of literature in a short period of time. So what was good for one President is good enough for another.

We are asking students to pick two books to do such “deep skimming” in the area of leadership. We hope it broadens and deepens their palate as well as give them a “taste” of other authors.

As we continue the conversation, what book would you recommend that our students dive into as part of their surveying the literature and gaining their bearings for their journey as servant leaders?

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Thank you for your help!

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