Issue No. 220 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting recommends a page-turner for your summer beach reading—the first novel from apologetics guru Lee Strobel. And this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Lee Strobel waits until the end, page 268, in his first novel to write his disclaimer. “Given my role as a pastor at two of the country’s largest churches, it would be natural for people to try to guess who the book’s characters most resemble. But it would be a futile effort, because they are the creation of my imagination.”
Given my years at Willow Creek Community Church and Willow Creek Association, and the proximity of Saddleback Church to my home, (the two churches where Strobel served) it was impossible not to devour Lee’s fictional account (he says) of a megachurch pastor on the horns of a dilemma.
Set in Chicago (where I survived 21 winters), the novel has it all and doesn’t disappoint. Murder. Mayhem. Megachurch. The mob. And Chicago politics! How I’ve missed Chicago politics!
Maybe I’m giving this page-turner too much credit because I know Lee, the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. His personal story of atheist-turned-megachurch teaching pastor is stunning. His bestselling books like The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator are now part of our apologetics lexicon. While this first novel gets its case for faith licks in, at its core the story is perhaps more akin to John Grisham meets Tim Keller.
I’d recommend The Ambition if for no other reason than the mouth-watering description of an authentic Chicago hot dog (I miss the dogs more than the politics). Actually, there’s another reason. Strobel uses the investigative reporter’s voice to hang out the dirty laundry on pastors who turn sermons into published books. The newsman grunts, “Seems to me he’s unduly profiting from a tax-exempt church.”
Even if this first novel was only half as good, I’d probably still recommend it out of loyalty to Chicago and Strobel. But it is good—and just in time for your summer beach reading.
I won’t spoil the beginning, the middle or the ending. But…hmmm…are these megachurch characters really just from Lee’s imagination?
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for The Ambition, by Lee Strobel.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Is truth really stranger than fiction? If you were to write a fictional account of your church or organization, describe at least one memorable character—positive or negative.
2) At a CEO Dialogue in New York City several years ago, Ed Morgan, president of The Bowery Mission shared this axiom, “Never do anything you don’t want published in the New York Post.” If New York or Chicago newspaper reporters were snooping around our organization, would they find anything front-page worthy?
3 Cheers for Pruning! Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Results Bucket, Chapter 1, in Mastering the Management Buckets is that, per Peter Drucker, you must slough off yesterday—that is, abandon those sacred cows and dead horses that are holding you back.
This week over coffee, I affirmed a gutsy CEO’s decision to close down two major entities. Painful? Yes. And somewhat sad? Yes.
Yet he told me that once the decision was made to cut their losses—the staff was supportive. They trusted the thoughtful leadership of the board and the CEO—and even though it was a very difficult decision, it was the right decision. Pruning is powerful. Without appropriate pruning, you won’t have appropriate growth.
For more resources and books from the Results Bucket, including a downloadable worksheet, "When the Horse Is Dead, Dismount," visit the Results Bucket webpage.