Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Best Reads from 2021 - Ministry-oriented books

This is part 2 of my annual book list.  In this post, I have briefly reviewed the best ministry and ministry related books I read this past year, as well as a list of the rest of the books in this category.

Discontinuity to Continuity:  A Survey of Dispensational and Covenant Theologies by Benjamin Merkle.  There are a number of ways people look at theology and the big story of the Bible.  One of the ways is to emphasize either discontinuity or continuity, especially between the Old and New Testaments.  Merkle’s excellent survey takes the reader from classic dispensationalism (discontinuity) through to Christian reconstructionism (continuity) and most views in between, helping us see both the strengths and weaknesses of these varied views of Scripture.

Micah by Stephen G. Dempster.  This past year, I finished a series of sermons on the prophetic book of Micah at our church.  It may seem strange that I would put a commentary in a list of best books of the year, but I do it for this reason – Dempster’s book is an example of how commentaries should be written, or at least commentaries that are useful for pastors and teachers.  It is filled with meaty exegesis and expository/application-oriented insights.  I look forward to using other volumes of this commentary series.

The Care of Souls:  Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart by Harold L. Senkbeil.  Senkbeil is a retired Lutheran pastor.  As a result, I don’t agree with some of his views of pastoral ministry and especially the place of the sacraments in that ministry, but don’t let that deter you from reading this book or giving it as a gift to your pastor friends.  His tone is warm, his heart is gentle and his focus is fully on shepherding the flock, which is a lost “art” today.

Irreversible Damage:  The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters by Abigail Shrier  I do not believe Shrier is a Christian, but her topic has vital ministry implications.  She pulls back the curtain on the recent explosion of transgenderism in pre-teen and teen girls, tying it to the advent of social media and YouTube “influencers.”  She details the unwillingness of most authorities to speak up, even as thousands of girls do irreversible damage to their bodies.  Every parent who has a young daughter needs to read this book! 

Untangling Emotions by J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith.  If you have ever been confused by your emotions, you are not alone.  In this book, Groves and Smith give the reader an excellent, biblical perspective on our emotional lives as Christians and human beings.  Their advice is Scripture-centered and gospel-oriented.  I thought the best chapters were the ones in which they focused on specific emotions like anger, fear, grief and more.

New Morning Mercies:  A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp.  This is how devotionals should be written.  Tripp’s daily write-ups are short, but deep, thought-provoking and application oriented.  He continually brings the reader back to the foundation truths of the gospel upon which our faith is built. And he has additional reading at the bottom of the page for those, like me, who like to have extended passages of Scripture attached to their devotional reading.

Lead:  12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp.  Like many of Paul Tripp’s books, this book contains 12 variations on the theme of leadership.  And his specific focus is on the culture of leadership among pastoral staff and elders in the church.  What drives decision-making or even conversations among church leaders?  Is it an earthly principle or a gospel principle?  The book is chock full of sound ways to reorient our thinking and practice as leaders to line them up with the truth of God’s Word.

What God has to Say about our Bodies:  How the Gospel is Good News for our Physical Selves by Sam Allberry.  This is a wonderful survey on what the Bible has to say about our bodies.  While Allberry only occasionally addresses sexual identity issues, this book contains the foundational, Scriptural truths that we all need to begin to understand and biblically address our culture’s obsession and confusion over those things.  What does God say about our body’s present and future?  Read and be encouraged!

2nd Tier reads, still excellent and recommended:  

The Cross Before Me:  Reimagining the Way to the Good Life by Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor

Micah for You by Stephen Um

A Commentary on Micah by Bruce K. Waltke

The Heart of Christ in Heaven towards Sinners on Earth by Thomas Goodwin

The Day Approaching:  An Israeli’s Message of Warning and Hope for the Last Days by Amir Tsarfati

God Dreams:  12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing your Church’s Future by Will Mancini and Warren Bird

Running Scared:  Fear,  Worry and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch

Spurgeon’s Sorrows:  Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine

Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathon K. Dodson

Deacons:  How they Serve and Strengthen the Church by Matt Smethurst

Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp

Family Discipleship:  Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments and Milestones by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin

Faithful Endurance:  The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson

The Missionary Theologian by E. D. Burns

A Holy Minister:  The Life and Spiritual Legacy of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Jordan Stone

Faithful Leaders and the Things that Matter Most by Rico Tice

Simply Trinity:  The Unmanipulated Father, Son and Spirit by Matthew Barrett

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