Book Reviews: Ministering to Problem People in Your Church

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Ministering to Problem People in Your Church: What to Do With Well-Intentioned Dragons by Marshall Shelley (Bethany House)

book shelley200Marshall Shelley may be a vice president of Christianity Today International, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he serves in an ivy tower. This book meets the feet-on-the-ground demands of understanding, and responding to, the real world of personal conflict in ministry.

The typical approach to this topic is to blame and label the “problem person.” Shelley instead seeks to understand and offer grace wherever possible. “The goal in handling dragons is not to destroy them, not merely to disassociate from them, but to make them disciples.” To do this, each chapter follows a real-life common situation, while transparently revealing missteps of well-intentioned pastors. In addition, he digs for explanations of the origins of the antagonistic behavior. He concludes with wise counsel for responding effectively.

This updated edition includes a new chapter, “Electronic Warfare,” that is worth the price of the book. It addresses modern technology and social networking’s power to make a mess of church relationships.

Specific topics include dealing with honest disagreements, personal attacks, the mentally ill and blatant power plays. Chapters devoted to preventative measures tackle ways to maintain a healthy church, develop a healthy leadership team and recognize one’s own faults. The book concludes with helpful advice on how to confront a disruptive church member and how to recognize when there are no solutions to bring parties together. Every pastor and church leader would do well to read this book and have it at the ready.

Karl Fickling, coordinator

Interim Church Services

Baptist General Convention of Texas

Life Change by Jordan Easley (B&H Publishers)

life change book200With simplicity and honesty, Jordan Easley addresses a need humanity longs for—changed lives. Life Change takes readers on a journey from struggle to hope. Everyone needs change in some areas, but the frustrating realities of life leave lasting change outside human reach. This book offers hope, because it reminds readers, “God is in the life change business.”

Easley uses the Gospel of Mark as a blueprint. Each chapter highlights a different character’s encounter with Jesus and the life change that follows. The book emphasizes an encounter with Jesus brings life change where the efforts of human beings have failed.

Easley peppers the book with personal anecdotes and illustrations that, while sometimes overwhelming the content, place his message within the grasp of all readers. A generous use of Scripture, although often casual and generic, serves to convince the evangelical audience of his message.

The conversational style reads easily but lacks strong argumentation some readers may demand. The imprecise topic of “change” may frustrate readers seeking help with specific issues, and the subtle avoidance of sin language steals the profundity from the book. Even so, falling in the category of Christian living, Life Change will find a ready audience.

Sawyer Nyquist, student

Dallas Theological Seminary

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