Reading List

The following books and brief comments are a listing of Bishop Larry Goodpaster’s reading. They are offered as an invitation for others to engage in the discipline of reading as one of several practices of life-long learning. (This list was compiled in 2012)


Emergence Christianity by Phyllis Tickle
Comment: Following her previous book, The Great Emergence, Tickle continues to reflect on the current and future state of Christianity, particularly in USA and “western” world. While no one can predict directions or expressions the faith may take, this is an incredible time of transition, upheaval, and renewing the faith, with major implications for the church. Highly recommended reading if for no reason other than to think seriously about what we do now as faithful disciples.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church by David Kinnaman
Comment: Kinnaman is also the author of unChristian from a few years ago. This book, based on research from the Barna group, explores those young adults of the millennial generation who have left the church, but not necessarily Jesus! He categorizes them in three categories: nomads, exiles, and prodigals. This one is very helpful reading to understand and hopefully connect with a generation that is missing in far too many of our churches.

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box from The Arbinger Institute
Comment: This is one of the best “leadership” books I have read in recent years. It has been around for a number of years, the second edition coming in 2010. Most of us live in “boxes” of conformity and expected ideas. We do not necessarily rock the boat. And, we deceive ourselves! Told from the perspective of an individual learning a different way of living and leading, this book invites us to change ourselves and to transform our organizations (think, “church”).

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else by Patrick Lencioni
Comment: Unlike other Lencioni books, this one is not told as a “fable” or “story” that teaches important lessons. Rather, this is a straightforward way of assessing who we are and what we do. At the heart are six critical questions that every organization must answer if it is to be healthy (and “vital”) now and into the future. The District Superintendents and Conference Staff joined me in reading this and in working on the answers to those questions. A must read!

The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg
Comment: All of us have, develop and keep habits; and some wonder how to break a few. This book is an amazing collection of stories and information about “habits” and how we move in fresh new directions that make a positive impact on life, business (“church”) and culture. It includes research into brain activity, and into how we learn or unlearn various facets of life point the direction forward. While some of this is heavy with scientific/medical reporting, the stories make all the difference. Good reading! Better insights into not only “why” but “how” we change.

Right Questions for Church Leaders by Lovett Weems
Comment: Here a small, handy reference book filled with questions that help lead churches and individuals. It is a collection of “right questions” that have been included in Weems’ newsletters over the years. This can be a good source for those who want to lead church in new directions.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
Comment: A fascinating book about how we come together and move together, about “belonging.” Here are insights about people who are connected, who share a common interest and ways of communicating, and who connect for growth and impact. In the midst of this, there is an invitation (and challenge) for leaders to engage and build community that makes a difference.

Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson
Comment: This book is one of those “big picture” view of our world and our history. Ferguson explores many civilizations that have come and gone, flourished and diminished over the last several centuries. It is a perspective that we need to have a sense that it is not all about us and our ways of living and doing. I found this a wonderful investment of my reading time if for no other reason than to understand where we are now and what the future might be.

The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews
Comment: Interesting and entertaining … the key, as the title suggests, is that we all need to learn to pay attention to what is happening around us, to people and to relationships, and to our attitudes. It is told as a story of one who enters the lives of people and teaches those lessons. While we all need to develop that approach, the title is sufficient for getting the point.

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul by John M. Barry
Comment: One of my interests is history, and particularly those events and people who helped shape and guide our country and our way of living and ordering ourselves. This is a wonderful account of one of those early pioneers who ventured to these shores. Most of my knowledge of Roger Williams was associated with and limited to the Rhode Island experience, but there is more to the story. I found Barry’s book a helpful (re)introduction to Roger Williams.

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
Comment: More history reading! I had heard only inklings of this part of the story of the D-Day invasion. I was captivated by the telling of the stories and lives of so many people who were involved in counter-intelligence for years. As might be expected, the people were a collection of intriguing personalities, not all of them of character or hero-like abilities. But together, they had an impact on the outcome. Intrigue. Deception. Fun reading!

Some final brief comments for this reporting: Lest anyone think that my reading is limited to books related only to the tasks at hand, there were several novels that relax and entertain. So, there were three novels in a series by Phillip Margolin (Executive Privilege, Supreme Justice, and Capitol Murder). And, for good measure, another of David Baldacci’s “Camel Club” novels, Stone Cold, the continuing sagas by Daniel Silva, The Fallen Angel, and Charlotte’s own Kathy Reichs latest, Bones Are Forever.