Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: "More Than Cake: 52 Meditations to Feed Your Teams"

Joe Miller is a college professor, church planter and devoted family man. In his book "More than Cake: 52 Meditations to Feed Your Teams" he writes out of a passion for helping other church planters and pastors avoid some of the challenges he has faced in ministry.

One issue many leaders must deal with is our human tendency to not like certain kinds of people. Joe challenges his readers to consider if , "Maybe, like Jonah, there are people in our own lives whom we hate, and so we just don't bother to share Jesus." This is unacceptable to God and if we hope to start effective churches, we must learn to love even those we hate. When the entire leadership team learns to love those they hate, churches can really begin to impact their communities.

According to Joe, one of the reasons we struggle to love others as we should is because "Christians have hurts, they have fears, they have struggles, and yes, they have sin too." To illustrate how challenging sin is to deal with, Joe tells this story:

Have you ever tried to sweep up leaves when the wind was blowing in all directions? Just when I got one area clean, another gust would come and bring in more leaves. As people walked by they would laugh and say, "Give it up. Don't you know a lost cause when you see it?" The answer, of course, is simple. Wait for the wind to stop, then clean up the leaves. The problem with life; however, is that sin is part of our nature and will not stop creating disasters. But there is hope for those who fear the wind and leaves.

According to Joe, the way to overcome our sin is to understand that "genuine faith knows that God will never fail, but I might. The risk in following God is not that He will ever let me down, but that He may ask me to let go." Most of us are not willing to let go so God can be in charge. If we cannot let God be in charge, it will be hard for us to ever control our sin. If leadership teams cannot get a grip on their own sinfulness, how will the rest of the people in the church learn to deal with sin?

Joe also talks about how "far too many people who are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect time, the perfect plan and the perfect promise of success before they will get out and follow after Jesus." The best time to serve the Lord is right now. There will seldom be a perfect set of circumstances, so we must just work with what and who we have and trust God to do something big with it.

We must make sure we keep Jesus in the center of all we do. Joe observes, "I see lots of people who are passionate about politics and reform and compassion, but where is Jesus? I apply the same question to my own vision for creating an arts center in my community. What, if anything, in my actions will lead people to salvation in Jesus Christ?" This is a challenging question. After all, we can only consider servant evangelism effective if we actually do some evangelism while we are serving.

Joe challenges his readers with 52 of these team building meditations. At the end of each "meditation" is a list of 4 questions the leadership team is to discuss. They include:

1. MEANING: What meaning does this devotional have for you?
2. CONNECTION: As you think on this meaning, what passage of Scripture has special significance? Why?
3. CALL TO ACTION: What message does this devotional have for your team?
4. FINISH TOGETHER!: After you meet with your team, write the ending to each sentence:
a. "Based on the challenge of this devotional, my role in the team..."
b. "Based on the challenge of this devotional, my vision for the team..."

This book is easy to read. It challenges the reader to think about how our human nature interacts with our leadership efforts and how we can shape those efforts so we can be more effective leaders.


  1. Good article. Our church is meeting every Thur.night for prayer and having a good attendance. Praying for vision, but none is coming. Joe M. dealt with the sin issue and NOT waiting for the perfect set of circumstances, but thriving in sp
    ite of the imperfect and dealing with one's own sin. Exactly the challenge we need. Some of our leaders have a way to deal with being disgruntled in church ...... run back to a group outside of church who will always soothe you and never exhort you!!!!!! I wonder what Joe would suggest about that.

  2. Terry, thanks for the review brother.

    Joan, the book itself deals with a variety of topics over the 52 team devotionals, and that does include the experience you share about. One of the goals for the book is to help people discover together what it means to live as a Church-Family and to stay united through the struggles of life. Pick up copies for you and your entire team and I pray God uses the stories to help foster unity in your church.