I had the privilege of reading a number of very good Christian books this year. The best of them had a profound impact on me personally, which has filtered down to have a profound impact on my ministry and church life. (That is how it should work, isn’t it?) Here are 7 I consider the best, followed by a list of the rest.
AWE: Why is Matters for Everything We Think, Say and Do by Paul David Tripp. Wow – what can I say? Easily the best book I read this year. When I read it, Tripp’s biblical teaching coincided with a difficult time in my life, and what that intersection produced was a realization that my eyes, which had been almost exclusively on my difficulties, needed to be almost exclusively on the glories and work of God.
Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney. Probably the second best book I read last year. Bigney’s practical, hard-hitting teaching, combined with self-examination, let to some recognition of some of the idols that tend to rule in my life. I spun off a Sunday School class using Bigney’s sermons, which has impacted many who have attended.
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves. I have read 4 Michael Reeves’ books and he is currently one of my favorite authors. The Unquenchable Flame is a history book filled with great insights and fascinating characters. I have read much on the Reformation and he taught me some lessons I had not known.
Engendered: God’s Gift of Gender Difference in Relationship by Sam A. Andreades. Every pastor needs to be aware of the whole issue of sexual identity and gender in our current society. Andreades’ book is a remarkable study of the blessing of gender differences. Yes, those gender differences our spouse displays are meant to bless our marriages and families! Highly recommended!
The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. This is a book, obviously, about community in the church. In many churches, community merely means having others similar to you to fellowship with. Dever and Dunlop suggest that God would like to see much more than that in the church He placed on earth to display his love for the world.
Finishing Well in Life and Ministry by Bill Mills and Craig Parro. This was a book suggested to me by my associate Chuck. Bill Mills is a personal friend and a fine Bible teacher. I was not sure what to expect from this book about ministry burnout. After finishing it, I would say that anyone who finds themselves tired and frustrated in life and ministry can gain some great insights from this study of how the characters in Scripture finished well.
The Vine Project: Shaping your Ministry Culture around Disciple-making by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. This book is the sequel to The Trellis and the Vine, another book I read this year. The goal of this book is to give church leaders insight into nurturing a culture of disciple-making in their church. The book is both encouraging and somewhat overwhelming at the same time, and the path it lays down will likely affect our church for years to come.
Those were the best, here are the rest (in no particular order):
2nd Tier Reads – very good reads I would recommend to anyone:
Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Edward T. Welch
Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer
The Intolerance of Tolerance by D. A. Carson
The Secret of Spiritual Joy by William P. Farley (honorable mention, almost made the best of list)
Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme by Stephen Westerhold
Acts: Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament by Edward J. Schnabel
Acts: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament by Darrell Bock
The Acts of the Apostles: The Pillar New Testament Commentary by David G. Peterson
Acts: The Church Afire by R. Kent Hughes
After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Bryan Litfin
Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper
Good Faith: Being a Christian when Society thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves (another honorable mention)
The All-Sufficient God: Sermons on Isaiah 40 by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus by Zach Eswine
The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto against the Status Quo by Jared C. Wilson
The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that changes Everything by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
Preaching the Cross by Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, R. Albert Mohler and C. J. Mahaney
For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan Hamilton
Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside by Greg Dutcher
Zeal without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice by Christopher Ash
Hidden in the Gospel by William P. Farley
Theologians You Should Know: An Introduction From the Apostolic Fathers to the 21st Century by Michael Reeves
The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross by Dr. Nabeel T. Jabbour
3rd Tier Reads – good, but somewhat disappointing:
The Power of Loving your Church: Leading through Acceptance and Grace by David Hansen
Acts: NIV Application Commentary by Ajith Fernando
The Forgotten Awakening: How the Second Great Awakening Spread West of the Rockies by Douglas McMurry