What would you be reading if you were me?

30 07 2010

It has been said that “leaders are readers”.  Someone asked me what I had been reading lately.  Unfortunately, what I’ve been reading is a much shorter stack of books than what I really want to read this year.  Sadly I do have a stack of books to read this year, that won’t be touched this month.

It’s no cliche’ that the Bible is the one true inexhaustible resource…it’s the one that will never run out…it will always have relevant TRUTH to offer any situation we come across.  I really do go to the Bible for real answers every day.  In “The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership”  Steven Sample points out the reality that very few books are being written today that will be relevant 100 years from now.  He suggests that the amount of time you give to the current news, periodicals, and modern books should be proportionate to the value they hold.  He suggests that “super-texts” (manuscripts that are still found relevant 200 years later) should be worthy of more of our time than their modern counterparts.  He refers to The Bible, Plato, Shakespeare, and other ancient texts.

I tend to agree with Steve Sample.  Every week I budget the all too rare reading time I have with regard for value…or priority.  That means that the Bible gets a “lion share” of my reading time.

That being said, here’s a list of the two stacks.  Maybe it helps.  Maybe it doesn’t.  It’s just a list.  The reality is that this list may be no more help to your daily life than a Super Bowl TV ad.

If you have any advice for me, please send it!  What would you be reading if you were me?

Church planting books that helped me:

Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age Ed Stetzer

Planting Missional Churches Ed Stetzer

Planting growing churches for the 21st century Aubrey Malphurs

Starting a new church: the church planter’s church guide to success Ralph Moore

Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church Mark Driscoll

Starting New Churches on Purpose Ron Sylvia

Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch Nelson Searcy

(Ed Stetzer’s blog sponsored by Lifeway Research)

Books that have helped me in preparation for church planting:

The Emergence of the Church: Context, Growth, Leadership & Worship Arthur Patzia

Natural Church Development Christian Schwarz

Simple Church Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger

No Perfect People Allowed John Burke

Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church Nelson Searcy

Jesus the Revolutionary Communicator: Seven Principles Jesus Lived to Impact, Connect and Lead Erik Lokkesmoe Jedd Medefind

Courageous Leadership Bill Hybels

The Leading Edge Jack Hayford

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork John Maxwell

Selling the Dream Guy Kawasaki

Death by Meeting Patrick Lencioni

Good to Great Jim Collins

Good to Great for the Social Sectors Jim Collins

The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership  Steven Sample

Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager

My American Journey Colin Powell Auto Biography

Books that are next on my list:

How to multiply your church Ralph Moore (how to become a church planting church)

Conspiracy of Kindness: A Unique Approach to Sharing the Love of Jesus Steve Sjogren

Multi-racial Church Leadership Books on my list:

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America Michael Emerson & Christian Smith

Church Planting in the African American Context Hozell Francis

Secular Books in Business and Communication that I plan to read:

What Americans Really Want Really Frank Lutz (research) must have

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership Ronald Heifetz Marty Linsky (Harvard guys Read slow) Leading change

The Art of the Start Guy Kawasaki

Real Leaders Don’t Do Powerpoint Christopher Witt

Church related books also on my list:

10 Stupid things that keep Leaders/Churches from growing Geoff Surratt

Church for the Unchurched George Hunter

Axiom Bill Hybels

The Multi-site Roadtrip Geoff Surratt

Sun Stand Still Steven Furtick

Money Greed and God J Richards

Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision Andy Stanley

Taking Your Church to the Next Level Gary McIntosh

Biblical Church Growth Gary McIntosh

What’s Right with the Church: a Manifesto of Hope Elmer Towns

The New Apostolic Congregation George Hunter (church growth reconceived for a new generation)

How to Reach Secular People George Hunter

Zero to Sixty Bob Franquiz

Sticky Teams Larry Osborne

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism Timothy Keller

Getting Things Done David Allen

How the Mighty Fall Jim Collins

The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational Dan Ariley

Delivering Happiness Tony Hsieh

Just As I Am Billy Graham

Predictable Success Les McKeown

Radical David Platt

Forgotten God Francis Chan

Wild Goose Chase Mark Batterson

Confessions of a Pastor Craig Groeschel

Vintage Jesus and Vintage Church Mark Driscoll

Transformational Church Ed Stetzer Thom Rainer

Viral Churches Ed Stetzer

Linchpin Seth Godin

Servolution Dino Rizzo

Volunteer Revolution Bill Hybels

The Christian Athiest Craig Groeschel

The Reason for God Tim Keller

Principle of the Path Andy Stanley

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Bradberry and Greaves

Managing the Non Profit Organization Peter F Drucker

Finding a rental home in Baltimore:

24 07 2010
Baltimore has a good amount of rental homes.  It’s a good size market.  Yet we’ve found it difficult to find a great value.  Older homes warrant making a careful decision.  Neighborhoods vary greatly.  We’ve spent weeks in the city, learned a bit, and have a whole lot more to learn.  Of course, our circumstances of only a couple of quick visits and shopping remotely complicates the search.  We had one place rented right out from underneath us early on.


We’ve heard many warnings about individuals who have been scammed renting houses through Craigslist.  Even some of the most credible books, working to bring tourists and new residents, strongly warn you about unethical landlords.  We’ve even stumbled across a Nigerian scan twice.  But realtors and leasing agents also use it to advertise.  Sadly Baltimore’s real estate Craigslist is a fraction of what it is in other cities.   It’s in your best interest to be sure the landlord has a good track record.
This is a great site becuase it has lots of photos and you can tell if there is a listing agent or not.


Local multi-state realestate company.



Our friends the Talaiver’s had a great experience with this realtor for buying their home.

He can find a rental house for you!  For $100 he shops for you from listings and landlords that are filtered.  Good protection from less than ethical situations.

He will email you pictures, etc..
I spoke with him, he sounded great, but we had already lined up a house.

Darrell S Pope  Long & Foster Real Estate

http://darrellpope.lnfre.com/Please let me know if you want his contact info.

On the lighter side, there are quite a few resources to help you get acclimated to Baltimore.

http://www.livebaltimore.com/ is helpful when you don’t know much about a particular neighborhood.

US Census data is very helpful in viewing the percentage of homes in a neighborhood that have been foreclosed, etc..

is great for learning more about the city.  If you haven’t already used the online presence of twitter – you really should!  There’s no need to get text messages on your phone.  It can just be an online profile.  Most news, food, music, kids stuff, bloggers, entertainment, government, sports, and event organizations keep up a live feed of info and happenings.  If you’re curious you can check out the list I generated at: https://twitter.com/#/list/BenMalmin/baltimore

Baltimore is a great city and we can’t wait to be there! I hope this info helps.

Ben & Rebecca Malmin

Mario Andretti and a few of my heroes have good stuff to say about working toward the goal!

11 07 2010

My dad taught me to always be learning. I once heard it said that, “the day you stop learning is the day you start to die.  This means that I’m always trying to learn more from other people.

As we move from Portland OR to Baltimore MD, with the intent to start a church from scratch, we are preparing for the adventure of a lifetime!  Here are a few thoughts in my head as we make this move.

Millions of people don’t know what a difference Jesus Christ can make in their life, TODAY!  Jesus gave us His all, that we can be forgiven, redeemed, and filled with new purpose!  Jesus said, “I will build my church” and he commissioned his followers to “go and make disciples”. We have been given both the “message” and “ministry” of “reconciliation” according to 2 Corinthians 5.  Because God loved us when we were at our worst…we are now able to help others realize that Jesus offers redemption.  The church is the hope of our present/future as it keeps focus on redemption by Jesus and relationship with Jesus.  This is incredibly simple, but also incredibly difficult.  Jesus intended the church to be a movement (believers responding to Him and acting upon their faith) not a monument (building that only house a weekly event).

How should we respond to this challenge?  How do we meet this great opportunity?

1.  We cannot be deterred by obstacles.

2.  We cannot lose sight of the goal.

3.  We should “sell all” and “buy the whole”.

4.  We must “pray and obey”.

5.  We will “live sacrifical love”.

6.  We can live with purpose and direction.

7.  We must serve people with love, connect them to Jesus Christ.

How should we respond to this challenge?  How do we meet this great opportunity?

1.  We cannot be deterred by obstacles.

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

– E. Joseph Cossman

I don’t know much about Cossman, but this is a great quote!

2.  We cannot lose sight of the goal.

Here’s what Mario Andretti, the famous race car driver had to say about motivation and success:

·         Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.

·         If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.

·         Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.

3.  We should “sell all” and “buy the whole”.

4.  We must “pray and obey”.

5.  We will “live sacrifical love”.

Pastor Wendell Smith

Pastor Wendell Smith

Pastor Wendell’s Blog

The City Church

One of my father’s best friends and one of my childhood heroes is Pastor Wendell Smith, founding pastor the The City Church (Seattle).

In reference to building the church Pastor Wendell referred to Matthew 13

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.  Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

With this story Jesus advises us that we may need to “sell all”, walking away from other pursuits, to “buy the whole field”, own the vision in order to “gain the pearl of great value” and achieve the goal!  It takes complete dedication.

  • Sell all
  • Buy the whole field

In this story you see complete dedication!  This also means that you must accept both the good and the bad of where and to whom you are called.

Pastor Wendell went on to say, “Pray and obey then do whatever he tells you!”

Next he advises us to love our spouses like Christ loves the church…glorious church and this includes advice to live like Jesus – sacrificial love for the church (believers and followers of Christ).  This comes with a purpose, see Ephesians 5:25-27.

Thankfully Pastor Wendell also cautions us that God will find a way for it to grow, describing the spiritual life that is in the seed (Jesus) of the church.

6.  We can live with purpose and direction.

7.  We must serve people with love, connect them to Jesus Christ.

Pastor Frank Damazio

City Bible Church

Pastor Frank Damazio’s blog

Pastor Frank Damazio has been my pastor for years.  For more than 30 years he has greatly influenced leaders across the US and in many other countries.  His writing on leadership has been shaping the development of movements.  He is a hero to us!

Pastor Frank and City Bible Church represent our roots.  The DNA of this church will change the way you look at living the message of Jesus Christ.  It will shape how you look at “HOW” we should be going about building the church.

“This first church of the first century became an unstoppable force that literally turned the world upside-down – or really, right-side-up. Our goal should be to be an A2 church, a local church with a brand new force that changes culture around them; a church that is thriving and alive.”

Pastor Frank’s “A2 – Building an Acts 2 Church” series is among the most practical, insightful, and powerful material available on the subject.

“When we as believers live life, we live with a sense of direction and purpose. We move forward with progressive clarity. We go with what God has done in us and for us to take and give to others. We need to understand what it means to go into the highways and byways, into all places of work and recreation, with the purpose of taking something with us and giving it away.”

“The GO church is a praying and interceding church, one that knows how to stand together in one accord and pray with authority. We cannot shake our cities if we do not first move into a powerful position of prayer as a united church.”

Pastor Frank points out that we must serve people with love, connect them to Jesus Christ, and work together to change culture.  He describes a movement that is alive!  This cannot be something that is dry and only out of obligation.  It also cannot be a weekend event where people come to perform a duty or simply watch other people relate to God.

Remember that people wanted to be around Jesus.  He clearly attracted people with broken lives.  His love and life brought about change.  He shared life with people who became leaders of a movement that changed human history.

He said, “I will build my church.”

We cannot drift from this reality.  It is His church to build.

It’s a thrill that we are able to share in the adventure!

How should we respond to this challenge?  How do we meet this great opportunity?

1.  We cannot be deterred by obstacles.

2.  We cannot lose sight of the goal.

3.  We should “sell all” and “buy the whole”.

4.  We must “pray and obey”.

5.  We will “live sacrifical love”.

6.  We can live with purpose and direction.

7.  We must serve people with love, connect them to Jesus Christ.

Our story

11 07 2010

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Rebecca and I didn’t fall in love at first sight (that came later and wow), but we fell in love with Baltimore at first sight.  Don’t you want to live in a city with friendly people and a culture worth talking about?  If you don’t already know what Hon Fest and Pit Beef are…you need to!

Over the years we have often traveled through the Mid-Atlantic region of the US and found it a great cultural fit for us.  During our years as youth pastors in Virginia we spent our anniversary weekends in Baltimore.  We enjoyed the culture, food, history, and the aquarium! 

When I was a kid my dad was an Oriole’s fan.  Later we enjoyed one of Ripken’s last games.  There’s nothing quite like Camden Yard!  Not many know that prior to the glory years of ’66-’83 the O’s won it all in 1894, 1895, and 1896.  Despite the recent threat to set the opposite records my kids now sport the O’s gear and so do I.  Truth is that anyone who knows me knows that I am a rabid NFL fan.  Can’t wait to see this year’s preseason game between the Ravens and the Redskins!

Rebecca and I grew up in Portland Oregon.  She also lived in Monterey CA (near a great aquarium) and in Uganda (near Lake Victoria that has our favorite fish: African Cichlids).  The Aquarium on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is already one of our kid’s favorite places.  Charlotte age 6 and Gideon age 3 love the city!

More than anything, Rebecca and I love to serve people.  We love to see people find a real life change in Jesus Christ!  We’ve worked in schools, tutored, done school assemblies, coached sports, served churches, and been involved in community efforts to bring real healing.  Any effort we have put into teaching, preaching, and writing in the past has been focused on bringing real help to people.

We have always been called to serve people for Christ.  We have served the church in different roles.  We have been mentors to people who now serve as leaders in youth, worship, eldership, and senior pastor roles.  We have ministered by “sharing life together” and being a family example of “life that works”.  For more than 10 years we have heard the call to pastor and now the time is right.

The weekend of July 10-11 2010 – new opportunities!

10 07 2010

This weekend City Bible Church (Portland) our “sending” church gives everyone an opportunity to contribute to the cause of a new church in Baltimore!  Tonight and tomorrow there will be a special offering for this cause in the CBC services.

You may be aware that there will be no monthly donation of funds.  This is the big push!  We are thrilled to see this honor given to the baby church.

I plan to work full time to support our family during the early months/years of the church.  This weekend’s offering will help us with moving expenses, but mostly go to the expenses of starting the church from scratch.  That means it will go directly to helping people who do not yet know Jesus Christ!

Join with us as we serve the city of Baltimore!

We are so very excited about this new opportunity!  We are just about three weeks away from the BIG move.  We’re finalizing details today and just can’t wait to see what God will do.  We love you all so much and feel so very grateful for your support this year!

If you would like to donate: please visit www.citybiblechurch.org

You can click on Donations, Online Giving, when you click on “Categories” you will see “Other” select it and then “Baltimore Church Plant” will be an available option.  Thanks in advance!

Stay tuned as we build our team, move across country, and launch a church!

follow Ben Malmin on twitter: http://twitter.com/benmalmin

You can read more about why we chose Baltimore…how it chose us…what we hope to do…at my blog:


Our facebook “group” page has some GREAT info about CBC Baltimore and the City of Baltimore!  Check it out – you can learn more about Baltimore and our team:
CBC Baltimore Facebook Group

Thank You for the continued support!

Ben, Rebecca, Charlotte, and Gideon Malmin

Why Baltimore?

10 07 2010

Baltimore is a beautiful city! We love to be in a city on the water.  We love to live in a neighborhood where people know each other.  Baltimore is known as a “city of neighborhoods”.

Everybody needs Jesus!  He gave us instructions for sharing His love.  When you read about churches being started in the Bible and in history – it is in cities!  You would see the “church planter” go to the heart of the city and get started.

On the east coast, I-95 has more large cities in close proximity than anywhere else in the US!  Baltimore is a beautiful city in a perfect position.  It has a rich history and a bright future!

We have met so many people passionate about living in Baltimore!  This city of neighborhoods is a great place to live!

We must give people an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ!

Here’s a few thoughts:


There is so much to do here – in the way of sports, business, parks, museums, and the arts! Across our nation, major cities are seeing a significant influx of young professionals who are aspiring to live the “urbanite” lifestyle as they work toward influence and the life of their dreams.


Baltimore has long been a region of peace, power, and influence.  As the colony of Maryland in 1634 it was known as being tolerant of both Catholic and Protestant believers.


Baltimore is such a beautiful city with such great potential!  Called the “City of Firsts” it has long been a gateway city of importing and exporting (even some of my favorites coffee and sugar).  The city rests where the Patapsco River empties into the Chesapeake Bay, which then flows to the Atlantic.  Despite the 1706 influence of tobacco, the proximity to the sugar trade from the Caribbean gave Baltimore a distinct advantage over New York and Boston.  It grew as a port city with one of the best railroad systems, influencing the central states.


It has been a “safe harbor”.  Known as our nation’s capitol (where Congress met for the three months) and then the site of the ratification of our Constitution (1776-1777).  After the British burned Washington DC, US forces successfully defended Baltimore against them during the War of 1812 from Fort McHenry.  These events, in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.


Prior to the Civil War, Baltimore was a “city where they could settle” (Psalm 107) for the greatest number and the greatest concentration of free African Americans.  That is prior to the Civil War!  Irvington is largely known as the first neighborhood of African American professionals.  During the Civil War the region had some of the nation’s most successful “underground” railroad.


Being the second city (in US history) to have a population of 100,000 it has its share of “big city problems”.  The city has seen specific depression (1873), devastating fires (1904) and riots (1835, 1961, 1968), but I believe that none of them caused as lasting an effect as the long history of people vacating the city limits.


Now it can be known as a medical city or a “place of healing” with Johns Hopkins (teaching hospital) serving as the city’s largest employer.  We found that the University of Maryland hospital, and an organization researching viral diseases are also significant employers.


The city has been in a 30 year effort to rebuild the downtown area.  The Baltimore Convention Center was the start of this effort in 1979.  In the early eighties restaurants opened up in the Inner Harbor.  The early nineties saw the baseball and football teams move into new stadiums in nearby Washington Village.

Bridge the Gap

Rebecca and I have long felt called to build a soul winning church in a city on the water.  We have dreamed of being in a city where we could interact with both the “under privileged” and the “over privileged” in a place where we could serve both the “under educated” and the “over educated”.  We believe that we are called to and uniquely positioned to be able to help people come to faith in Christ, equip them, and then send them to serve their context – to become a “city within a city”.

What if?

What if we could serve God’s vision to build a church that served the city?  What if the church had both spiritual depth and cultural relevance?  What if it attracted people in because it trained believers to live a missional life out in the community?  What if the church had passionate presence driven worship with the power of the Holy Spirit, connected with the mind of the guest by the power of the Scripture?

Here’s a few facts:

The cities – Why Baltimore?

  • We love cities on the water.
  • We fell in love with Baltimore during the early years of our marriage.  We were living in Richmond VA and would spend our anniversary weekends in the city.
  • John’s Hopkins, a famous teaching hospital, has great influence in the medical field.
  • Under Armor, Black & Decker, and several other corporations bear corporate influence.
  • It was the second US city to reach 100,000 and has a long history of urban problems.
  • Only 38% of Maryland population identify themselves as “Christian”.
  • Only 9% of US population associate with charismatic or non-denominational church.
  • The city has a need for local churches seeking to serve the community.
  • The city has a need for Spirit filled churches that are built by intention.
  • The city has a need for local churches built by a multi racial leadership team.
  • We see a need for a strong multi site local church that is planting new churches.
  • June 29, 2009: Baltimore rated third most family-friendly city by Forbes Magazine
  • The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first metropolitan cathedral in the United States.
  • The 745-acre Druid Hill Park ranks among the oldest landscaped public parks in the United States (2nd to Central Park in New York).
  • Fort McHenry: where the words to The Star Spangled Banner were penned.
  • 220 years old, Lexington Market is the world’s largest continuously running market. Still occupies original site since 1782.

The region – Why the Mid-Atlantic region?

  • It is a good fit for us culturally and we have established relationships with other local churches in the region.
  • The Mid-Atlantic hosts the seat of US authority and is an American culture “melting pot”.
  • Most of the US population, living in cities, can be found along the Eastern Seaboard.
  • Along the I-95 corridor these cities anchor some of the most densely populated US cities.
  • The Mid-Atlantic region has been and continues to be a gateway for much of the US.
  • The DC – Baltimore Metro Area is the 4th largest metro area in the US with 8.3 million.
  • 34.7% of people over 25 have at least a Bachelor’s Degree (among highest % in US).
  • 28.8% of DC – Baltimore residents are African American (among highest % in US).
  • It is among the most racially diverse region of the US, and yet very few truly racially blended churches exist (using the 80/20 rule where the majority race cannot be more than 80% of the church).
  • Baltimore is the 20th largest US city with 2.7 million.  DC is the 8th largest with 5.3 million.
  • These cities host among the “poorest” poor and the “wealthiest” wealthy, in the US.
  • Only 54.6% of residents are from the area (among lowest % in US).  These cities host tens of thousands of young professionals who are transplants to the area, for the sake of their resume.  They will in turn leave to effect culture abroad.

Here’s what I believe God is saying from His Word:

“the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:3b-5

He will provide the wisdom!

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

He has opened the door!

“I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Revelation 3:8

He will make the way!

2 “I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:2-3

In Acts 2 Peter quotes a Messianic Psalm that has great personal meaning:

In Acts 2 Peter quotes: “I saw the Lord always before me.” But in Psalm 16 our translation says, “I have set the Lord always before me.”  The entire Psalm (below) is meaningful, but this phrase instructs me (us) “how” we must do the “what” of “what” we must do this year…as we go to the “pleasant” places mentioned below.