Are You in the Game or in the Way Book Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Are You in the Game or in the Way?

Author: Ross Holtz

Genre: RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Pastoral Resources

Release Date: March 10, 2017

Front Cover

Are You in the Game or in the Way?

A men’s ministry reality check: What is standing in the way of a vital men’s ministry in your church? 

The guy who should be at the forefront is often in the way of the program getting off the ground. 

·         Are you, as pastor, the main obstacle to the growth of a vital men’s ministry? 

·         Are you the guy who wants to start a men’s ministry in your church but don’t know how? 

·         Is fear or a sense of inadequacy keeping you from starting such a ministry? 

Pastor Ross Holtz tells his personal story of how he became a catalyst for growth, instead of an impediment will inspire pastors and men’s ministry leaders. 

What works, what doesn’t, and what is required in forming a vital men’s ministry. Practical and honest teaching filled with relevant and tested examples from recognizing the problem to finding the fix.  

Pastor Ross Holtz is a man who has earned the right to speak on ministering to and through men . . . One man’s journey from being a sceptic to a fully-engaged pastor who sees the power of a clear ministry to and through men . . . Pastor Ross bares his heart, and is, at times, brutally honest in a way that will resonate.  

—Chuck Stecker, president, A Chosen Generation


Click here to get your copy.

Guest Review from James Barela

Are You in the Game or in the Way? was written by pastor Ross Holtz to other pastors and men who are either already in or aspire to men’s ministry. The book is intended to be a source of teaching on how to get men’s ministry up and running as a successful church ministry: focusing on the role of the pastor. Holtz’s passion about this topic is apparent and his motive appears to be a love of men’s ministry. The flow of his writing and thoughts were easy to follow, even for a layperson (such as myself). In addition to the author’s passion and clarity he provides an honesty in relating some of his own struggles in ministry over the years and asks some questions that are important and difficult for those in Christian men’s ministry leadership.


Are You in the Game or in the Way? does not come without some concerns. Passion, clarity, honesty, and asking good questions does not automatically make a resource like this adequate for the job it seeks to fulfill. My first concern is that though it was written to pastors and men’s ministry leaders about ministry to men it lacked an adequate reliance upon scripture. The book is 153 pages long and my first encounter with any reference or usage of scripture was not until page 105. Rather than scripture being the standard for understanding the problem of a failing or struggling men’s ministry the reader will encounter numerous quotes from about 2-3 men’s ministry leaders he admires or respects. There is an assumption that the reader must make if they are not familiar with these men quoted – the assumption being that these men relied upon the scriptures for their work.


Another large concern for me was the apparent and seemingly reliance upon pragmatism for the sake of pragmatism. This comes in many forms throughout this book. One example is at the end of the chapter entitled Men’s Men and Me where the author indicates he was the problem in that the men he was attempting to minister to “evidenced no real attraction to what (he) was offering” (24). Well, what was he offering you ask? He says, “My passion was the Scriptures and the stuff of books.” He rightly points out that he wanted these men to become part of the life of the church as he saw it (love of the scriptures and doctrine which we find in books) but that he was “inadvertently, attempting to draw them away from their own lifestyles and community to participate in mine.” First, the author was honest enough to recognize and admit he wasn’t willing to like the things they liked outside of the church such as fishing and hunting. But, secondly, he also uses words that lead the reader to think he was wrong for having a love of doctrine and scripture and that he was wrong for  wanting that for these men only because he was not more of an outdoorsman than he was. I don’t know for sure that he wanted to convey this, but it is a reasonable question based upon his words.


A couple other examples of this concerning pragmatism come in comments like the following:

  • “Most pastors and men’s leaders know the truth that doing something is men’s dominant form of spiritual expression, not religious talking and listening” (131). Before Jesus turned the disciples loose to preach, teach, and heal there was quite a bit of Jesus talking and them listening and there is no indication in scripture they complained.
  • After demonstrating several times that the men in his church, some saved some not, were not interesting in the things of church life, much less God, he states, “We didn’t know what most men wanted, but we thought we did.” In the book there is neither any discussion that he/church leadership considered what these men needed nor any reference to their need. The reader is left to assume it is all about what men want. Far too often than not this type of thinking leads to programs for the sake of programs in which in order to keep them in the doors you keep having to think about what gimmick you need to keep the men’s attention.


The number of concerns was far too long to include all of them here, but I believe it noteworthy to mention, in this review, there a few times the author chose to retell a story referencing in greater detail than necessary the use of unedifying language. In one story he refers to a Pentecostal who uses the “s- “word; though we read “he doesn’t always use the word stuff.” Is this necessary? In another section of the book he tells his readers he must use restraint from using a scatological term in reference to hearing that American men are not emotional. He also makes a comment about the disciples and flatulence. While these are not great sins in and of themselves, I must ask, “are they really becoming a pastor in a pastoral work to other pastors?”


As I bring this review to a close please keep in mind that I know that it is difficult to put your work out there for others to review and provide feedback. The heart and intent of my feedback is constructive. I would ask the author if he took the time think some of the comments through to their logical end. For this reader, I gained more insight from the last few paragraphs of the book where he briefly exposits a pastoral epistle written to Timothy – from a pastor to a pastor. This is what this book desperately needs to be a valuable tool to other pastors. Yes, it was honest, passionate, clear, easy to read, and asks good questions, but it fails to fully and biblically answer those questions adequately and for that reason I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Redemption Press via Celebrate Lit Tours. All opinions are my own.

About the Author


Geoffrey Ross Holtz, DD, is founding and senior pastor of The Summit (ECFA) in Enumclaw. He was awarded “Pastor of the Year” in 2014 by the National Coalition of Ministries for Men. Ross and his wife, Athena, the founder and publisher of Redemption Press, have a blended family of eight adult children and seventeen grandchildren and enjoy time spent sailing.  


More from Ross

I’ve been asked to tell something about myself or tell a personal story. I’m not adverse to talking about myself, but I’d rather tell you a very personal story.

There was a show on television, maybe still is I guess, called Overhaulin’. The plot of the show was that each week they would sneak a person’s car away from them, with family help, and overhaul it to make it really cool. It was every car-guy’s dream; to have someone restore a vehicle for you, that was special to you. And to restore it at their expense; Wow, doesn’t get cooler than that.

I never was on that show, but I have a story that I want to tell you. It was late summer in 2014. I had just remarried after having lost my wife of 49 years awhile before. The church that I pastor was having a car show as a community outreach on this particular Sunday. The day had started out rather weird. Several people seemed to be inordinately interested in my movements and where I was going to be as we set up the show.

“Oh, Ross, you need to go into the church, someone is looking for you.” Or, “Hey Ross, would you run get this for us across town?” Yeah, weird things. But I obliged and made myself scarce for the time leading up to the church service before the car show officially started.

So, we do the obligatory service; it ends, and my new wife and I start walking through the grassy field looking at the custom and restored vehicles that had come to the show. I, as is my style, was meandering along the cars talking to people I knew and folks with their fancy cars. Athena, my wife, seemed to be hurrying me along which was not like her at all. And, which was like me, I was just strolling along enjoying the cars.

Then, down the row a few cars, I spot the open hood of a 1961 Chev pickup. That year had a very distinct hood which was used only one year. “Oh, look at that. I had a truck like that years ago. Wow, and look at that, it’s yellow. Isn’t that gorgeous.” Funny, I failed to see the horde of people and cameras set up in front of that vehicle, all looking towards me.

Anyway, I hurriedly moved towards it and recognized it as a limited addition of that year’s Chevy truck. I said, “Hey look at that. It’s the same model that I had. That’s not your normal ’61.” I wondered if someone had restored my old truck.

I must give a bit of back story on my old truck. It had been purchased new in Los Gatos, California by my dad. He had needed someone to drive it home so he pulled my out of school to do that. I was 14. My father was not a stickler for legal technicalities. So I was the first to drive his new truck. It was new, but it was ugly. It was painted an ugly shade of puce. I mean it was really an awful color. My mother called it “Rosebud” because it reminded her of some kind of flower.

In 1975 my dad gave me the truck because he had no further use for it. So I drove it until about 1988 when it was totally worn out. So I sold Rosebud to a friend named Randy who had plans to restore it eventually. I sold it with the understanding that if he should he ever sell it, I’d get first right of refusal.

Fast forward Twenty-five years. A bunch of guys were sitting around a campfire talking and Randy announces that he’s moving to another state and getting rid of everything he owns.

“What about my truck? Are you taking it with you?” “Oh,” he said, “I gave that truck away a while back.” Those who were there said I looked disappointed, or something. I don’t remember feeling that, but it was said.

Now, back to the story. I was looking at this beautiful truck, wondering if it was the same truck, when I saw Randy on the other side of it. “Randy, you son of a gun, you restored my truck.” He said, “It’s your truck.” “Yes, I can see that. You’ve done a beautiful job with her. But why didn’t you tell me?” He said once more with strong emphasis, “It is your truck.” “Are we playing games?” I wondered out loud. And, to make it more cruel, someone had entered the truck in the show under my name. That wasn’t nice.

I was not very situationally aware at that moment. I didn’t see all the cameras and people that were focused on me. People were laughing and cheering. I didn’t notice. I was focused on the pickup that had been my dad’s. It took them four or five time to finally get across to me that this beautiful bright yellow, completely restored truck was a gift from the men of the church to me. Randy had given it to the men’s ministry of The Summit with the request that they make it new for me as a gift for nearly 30 years of ministry to the church. Dozens of men had spent 18 months completely disassembling and rebuilding it from the ground up. It now had a fresh corvette motor, disc brakes, power steering, and a custom paint job. I had been Overhauled. Not by Chip Fouse, but by a group of men, and boys, who cared enough for me to invest months of blood sweat and tears. Not to mention the thousands of dollars it took. I wept. I still weep when I think about it.

One final part of the story that needs telling. I remarried after Cathy died, as her instructions (another story). I guess I didn’t wait long enough for some people, or something. People, about 100 people, abandoned me and left the church. They might not call it abandonment, but I do. I asked some of the more prominent people, “Is there a sin issue here?” “No,” They said, “We just don’t think it’s good for the church for you to remarry.” As you might imagine, it was an extremely painful time for this 67-year-old guy. I had found another person to finish off my life with, which I didn’t think possible, and some people considered it wrong for me to do. They didn’t consider my feelings, and needs, only thinking of  theirs. Or so it seemed.

But all the while this tragedy was taking place, a whole bunch of good and committed friends, were investing their time and efforts, in secret, to rebuild my dad’s old Chevy truck. All the time I was in such pain, these good men were giving up evenings and weekends to do this wonderful thing for me. Isn’t that like God? Sometimes while we are in the dregs of misery, He is working, unseen, to bless us, to encourage us, and to show His love for us.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 11

Vicky Sluiter, November 12

Artistic Nobody, November 13 (Author Interview)

Just the Write Escape, November 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 15

A Baker’s Perspective, November 16 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, November 17

janicesbookreviews, November 18

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 19 (Author Interview)

A Reader’s Brain, November 20

Inklings and notions, November 21

My Devotional Thoughts, November 22 (Author Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, November 23 (Guest Review from James Barela)

Lukewarm Tea, November 24 (Author Interview)


To celebrate his tour, Ross if giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of his book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

6 thoughts on “Are You in the Game or in the Way Book Review & Giveaway”

  1. Thanks for your honest, candid thoughts about the book. My grandfather was always very involved in men’s ministry, and he would have shared your opinion and concerns, from what I read here.

  2. Good Morning! Thank you for the book description.These tours are great and we have found some terrific books so thanks so  much

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