By Alan Nelson, Stan Toler
Reviewed by Greg Gilbert | 3.3.2010
I recently attended a leadership conference organized by a group of churches known as PDI Ministries. The setting for the conference was a hotel in Maryland, a nice and cozy place with ample space for meeting with friends, talking about ministry, and catching up with old acquaintances. My church’s staff had been invited to the conference by PDI’s leader, C.J. Mahaney. If you know the name, you just smiled. I know—you just can’t help it. C.J. is one of those rare breed of men that epitomize the love and discipline that mark the Christian life. In fact, I can say that my only regret about the time I have spent with him is that it has been so little. There is much I could say about the church that C.J. leads, but in the course of reviewing Stan Toler and Alan Nelson’s The Five-Star Church, I want to point out just one aspect of their ministry: PDI Ministries majors in excellence. The church’s commitment to quality was evident from the moment we arrived at the conference. Everything was professionally designed and professionally presented. At the registration desk, we were all handed a glossy black box, stamped in gold foil with PDI’s logo. Inside was a free copy of their latest worship CD, a copy of the ministry’s magazine, and a professionally made “back-stage pass” nametag. When we arrived in our rooms at the hotel, each bed had a gift basket waiting on it, filled with candy and juices, bubble gum and breath mints. On the first night of the conference, we were invited to a reception in C.J.’s room. When we arrived, we were greeted by a fantastic spread of cold-cuts, fruits, crackers, breads, and beverages. Now, if you ask any PDI leader about these parts of their ministry, I am sure the response would be that these little extras are absolutely negligible compared with the greater works of preaching the gospel and edifying the body of Christ. I would agree with them. I point it out, though, to say that I am not sure I have ever felt quite so loved and appreciated at a conference before. The little extras of gift baskets, fruits, and glossy boxes made such an impression that, well, here I am writing about them more than a year later. That idea is what Stan Toler and Alan Nelson want to communicate in their book The Five-Star Church: in everything, a local church should strive for excellence.