Jesus never said to plant churches is a quick and interesting read. It's written by a young guy in Utah who planted a church while at the same time trying to work out what on earth he was supposed to be doing (which is rather how every planter feels I imagine). It has a ton of quite interesting thoughts in it but most of you will only need to know its conclusion. The point of the church and of life itself is to make disciples.
David Platt says this so clearly in this talk called 'Commissioned by the King' on Matthew 28 (listen to the last 13 minutes of the talk or all if you have the time) and the proceeding deeply challenging one called The danger of damnation in sincere religion (on the Matthew 23 'seven woes'). No wonder he and Francis Chan have become such good friends. He says:
"As long as your Christianity just consists of what matters to you for your own self-consumption you'll miss the whole point and you'll stagnate in your growth in Christ and many people live there for fifty years and I'm urging you don't live there for fifty years...'
Some of you may be thinking 'I know this but how do I/we actually do this?' Well, if you are leading a group or a church you might want to check out this material and adapt it for your needs. It seems to be really good disciple-making stuff that you may like to use or adapt as the new term starts.
One of the things that I underlined in the book was a film recommendation. I love it when people say something is 'the best movie ever made' and it's one you have never even heard of. I have now got around to watching Freedom writers and it is really rather profound. If you watch it as an allegory of the gospel and of the sacrificial call to 'make disciples' it leaves you with lots to ponder. It's the classic inspirational teacher with down at heal kids narrative but done extremely well and movingly.
Related to the movie, I had an interesting read of Toxic Children: How the modern world is damaging our children and what we can do about it by Sue Palmer. It's a good primer on all the current cultural issues around parenting, education and kids. She articulates the blindingly obvious in each chapter (diet, sleep, the importance of marriage, play, limiting screen time, day-care, discipline etc) and the fact that we are not doing these things means we are raising a nation of feral children. There again what do I know? Having had a recent confrontation on holiday with a group of feral children the reality of her analysis is slightly fresh in my mind. A noticeable absence in this book though is the benefit of healthy spirituality in the development of children which would be a chapter I would add. If you are a parent wondering how to navigate the journey of raising kids then this is certainly worth having on the bedside table. The follow-up is called Detoxing Children.
You should probably have Keller's Center Church and Every good endeavor on pre-order (you'd expect me to say that). Furtick also has a new book called Greater.
The other film recommended in the planting book is called Multiplicity which will probably be my next watch.