This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com) and christianaudio (www.christianaudio.com). While christianaudio did provide a free review copy of this book, this is not a paid review or advertisement.
Based on the title, I though Andy Stanley’s book, Next Generation Leader, was going to be focused on young leaders and the challenges that they will face in the future of ministry. I was considering the book for one of you core audio textbooks for a mentorship class we recently started at Desert Bible Institute. Instead, what Stanley provides is a clear and comprehensive guide on how to be a better leader regardless of (or perhaps despite) your experience. Unlike some books that I have read on the subject, Stanley does not take on the role of a cheerleader, but neither does he take on the role of negative pragmatist. What Stanley does instead is to challenge ministry leaders to use time-tested methods to be both affective and innovative. He encourages leaders to play to their strengths and build strong teams. If this was all he did however this would be yet another book destined to collect digital dust in my electronic archive.
Stanley moves on to show leaders how to restructure, move forward boldly, and develop the most effective leadership team that they can. While he does this by citing well-known books in some places, his most effective approach is by showing how leadership was handled in Scripture. I do not mean that he cites verses (although he does that): I mean that he takes scenarios in the Bible and shows how great leaders were created and developed. He biblically shows (not tells) what made leaders in the Bible great. This alone would make the book useful, but Stanley goes further.
By citing examples, both personal and theoretical, Stanley show how leaders can apply the strategies he is suggesting. He makes the reader think “Hey I know how I could use that idea.” He then anticipates the critics of his ideas and carefully explains how the most common objections to his ideas are understandable but nevertheless invalid. This is all done with a pleasant, respectful approach that makes this book very approachable.
The narrator, Lloyd James, likewise does an excellent job. He reads the book in a natural, unaffected manner. Additionally, he captures the easy, conversational tone that is usually unique to the author being the narrator. I had to keep remaining myself that James was not Stanley. Too often, readers of non-fiction can be overly dramatic and sound like an announcer. James however seems to have a knack for finding the subtleties in a work that helps the text come alive.
In all, I highly recommend this book. I review all the lectures and audio textbooks that come through Desert Bible Institute, and this is by far one of the best. It will soon be one of the audio textbook choices for our students and without question the core reading at our next staff retreat.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President