One of the things that I love about my job is how the Church gives me time to study and prepare. It’s a real blessing, I get paid to go off every year to pray and study, and it’s not just to write sermons, it’s to equip the priesthood of all believers for ministry. So when people ask me if there are any books I recommend I’d like to be as helpful as possible.
So here it is, my annual list of book suggestions. There are lots of good books that I read this year, but If they’ve made this list it’s because I’ve found myself recommending them to friends over lunches or coffee on multiple occasions
So for any of us who are looking for some new reads in 2016, here they are, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite books from this year :
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. Accessible, hopeful and a book that every church leader (and member) ought to read. If you want to regain an appreciation for what the local church can do and should be doing in a deeply divided world, get this book and read it.
I know it’s a great book, if I read it more than once. I’ve read this book 3 different times. I took several of our ministers at Highland through this book. I found it incredibly helpful into understanding myself and the nature of how sin works in my life to keep me from being the person God made me to be. There’s not been a book that has impacted my life as much as this one this year.
One of the most surprising books I read in 2015. James follow up book to “Half the Church” is about why the way we talk about gender roles in church is not helpful to both women and the men of our churches…and how it’s also not faithful to how the Scriptures talk about men and women. This book is amazing, filled with Biblical insights that I had never seen before, and frankly changed my mind a few times. I recommend it highly.
Full Disclaimer, Josh is a good friend and I wrote an endorsement for this book years ago. But with all the global events going on in the world and the anti-Muslim rhetoric floating around, I think this book is a must read for 2016.
So this one is probably not for everyone. But if you are a preacher or if you ever preach, this is a great book for you. I wrote a few blogs reviewing this book earlier this year, but in a nutshell Keller’s genius is that he thinks like a missionary, reads culture well, and knows how to communicate effectively to it.
This book was a breath of fresh air. Scott Sauls takes on the most polarizing topics today from politics to abortion and does so in a way that helps build bridges and understanding between Jesus people without sacrificing convictions. After I read this book, I started recommending it often. I didn’t realize how much the church needed a book like this until I’d read it.
This book is different than others on here. It’s not for everyone, and I never would have thought I’d be recommending a book like this at the end of the year. I’ve just found myself recommending it so much throughout the year, and I think it might be helpful for some people now. It’s a book about the powerful pull that secularization has on every institution, and why Christian organizations need to consider fighting to be distinctively different and Christian.
This is one of my top 5 books of the year. Swaboda is a great writer and this book is incredible. Swaboda’s big idea is that the Christian experience mirrors the final three days of Jesus’ life. Every disciple’s life is filled with places of death, waiting and resurrection. God is found in all three days, and each are important.
Ortberg is one of my favorite preachers and writers, and this book is his best since Who is this Man. If you’ve got a transition in life coming up, or just wondering what comes next for you, this is a great little book to read.
If you heard any of the series I preached at Highland this past fall, than chances are you heard me talk about this book. Ruden is a classical literature scholar as well as a Christian. And in this book she turned her attention and expertise toward challenging some of the misconceptions the Western world has about the Apostle Paul. This book is brilliant, and worth the price for her chapter on Paul and women alone.
I’m biased here because I go to church with Richard and love the Becks. But this is an excellent book. Beck is a psychology professor at ACU, and he’s also a good thinker and a great church person. This book is in his wheelhouse of connecting psychology (fear and denial of death) with the Christian faith. I loved it.
The good Bishop does it again! I actually got to meet Bro. Tom this year to talk to him about this book #humblebrag and I told him that I’ve begun praying for his health. Everytime he writes a new book, I get a new sermon idea.
I’m not a contemplative, but I really want to be. And I know for many of you, I’m very late to the party with this book, but for others of you who have never heard of Merton, or never picked up any of his stuff, this is a great place to start…especially if you’re interested in prayer. Merton’s writing is poetic and his content is inspiring. I described this book to a friend as one of the most peace-filled books I had read in a long time. This is a great book from one of the best Christian authors ever.
This one is a bit different than the others. Like the title says it’s a book made from private letters from Mother Teresa. This was an incredibly inspiring and insightful read. It humanizes Mother Teresa and helps you appreciate her ministry even more. On a year where she is about to become beautified and recognized as a Saint, this book would be a great place to start to help understand what a difficult, wonderful life she lead.
This book is both wonderful and convicting. Filled with stories of generous people doing incredible things in the world, Shinabarger does the hard work of getting us to consider the question that just about all of us never ask ourselves: Do we really need more, or is it possible that life could be better with less?
This is a harder, more philosophical read than others on here, but it’s worth it. Smith is a great thinker and writer, and this book is a few years old, but incredible relevant to today. I wish every church leader would read this book and ask the question about how do our church assemblies and church life together help us desire the Kingdom of God more?
So that’s my list for 2015. One of my favorite parts of blogging is finding out and reading what other people suggest, so what did I miss? What needs to be on my list for 2016?