Sunday, January 10, 2021

Best Reads of 2020 - Christian and Ministry

This is part 2 of my annual summary of the best books I read in the past year.  This post will focus on books pertaining to the Christian faith and ministry.  I set a goal to read 20 books in this category each year.  I barely made it this year.  Need to be a bit better in 2021.

The Gospel-Driven Church:  Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace
by Jared C. Wilson.  I don’t have much time of day for the church growth movement.  It is a movement that always seems to be tempted to over-apply business models to the church of the living God.  Wilson takes another approach.  What might it look like if we approached church growth with a gospel-driven perspective?  Read the book and find out.

Hearers and Doers:  A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine by Kevin J. Vanhoozer.  Disciple-making should be a central focus in any church.  Vanhoozer’s book is an insightful study of the pastor’s role in making disciples, through teaching and consistently reminding the congregation to be hearers and doers of the truths of Scripture.

A Big Gospel in Small Places – Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters
by Stephen Witmer.  The only ministry we often hear about is mega-church ministry.  Those are the churches who frequently make the headlines, for both good and ill.  Witmer’s book is a gentle push back against the assumption that ministry only happens in big places or big churches.  All you small town pastors and Christian workers – read it and be encouraged and challenged.

Sons in the Son:  The Riches and Reach of Adoption in Christ by David B. Garner.  This is a book for anyone who loves to dive deep into theology and the riches of the gospel.  Garner’s argument is that adoption, which at best is under-taught, at worst basically forgotten, is a central piece – perhaps THE central piece - necessary in our understanding of the salvation found in Jesus Christ.

Did America Have a Christian Founding?
By Mark David Hall.  Hall presents a well-argued and passionate defense of the Christian roots of America.  While he does not assume all of the founders were evangelical Christians, he pushes back strongly against the assumption that the pivotal founders were deists.  He takes scholarly consensus to task for their unwarranted assumptions, as well as their selective use of the evidence available.

Gentle and Lowly:  The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund.  Apart from the Bible, easily the best, and most encouraging, Christian book I read this year. Ortlund focuses on the many varied but always merciful and compassionate heart of Christ for those who belong to Him.  Jesus does not only love you, he likes you and his heart is continually and eternally bent in compassion and mercy toward you.  Believe it!

2nd Tier reads – still very good books, just did not make the “best” list:

Paul’s Vision for the Deacons: Assisting the Elders with the Care of God’s Church by Alexander Strauch
Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures for Approaching God’s Word by Matt Smethurst
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilken
A Praying Life: Connecting with God is a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller
How to Walk into Church by Tony Payne
The Power of Vision: How You Can Capture and Apply God’s Vision for your Ministry by George Barna
Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible by Mark Ward
Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
1 Timothy by Phillip Graham Ryken
One to One Bible reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian by David Helm
The Case for Biblical Archeology: Uncovering the Historical Record of God’s Old Testament People by John D. Currid
Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp
Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper
Journey Through Colossians: 36 Day Verse-by-Verse Devotional by Tara Barndt


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