Friday, December 20, 2013

My Top 5 Books I read this year

I read a lot of good stuff this year but I did not read as much as I have in recent years. But I will give a few that really stick out to me (in no particular order).

1) Center Church, by Tim Keller

I started this book last December and finished it very quickly. But our Elder Board has been working through it together this year. I simply can't think of a better book out there on how to think through what faithful ministry should look like where you live. It is aimed at pastors and is basically a textbook so it is comprehensive. It will be a common resource for us sometime. His insights on contextualization, the church and culture, and the "missional church" are fantastic. Pretty much everything I have been wrestling with in ministry for the last five years is found in this one book.

2) The Cross of Christ, by John Stott

A modern classic on the subject of the atonement. Easy enough for anyone (in that it isn't bogged down by complicated jargon) but it is very dense. A must read when trying to think through what is meant by the claim "Christ died for our sins."

This book is the main reason why I didn't read a lot more this year because it was a monster. It deals with one of the biggest problems in our day - interpretation. He is funny, quirky, exhaustive, and precise. But this is by no means an easy read. Anyone who studied literary criticism or was bombarded by postmodern philosophy in college would benefit greatly from it.

4) Everyday Church, by Steve Chester and Tim Timmis

I am now using this book as training for our group leaders. Its simple, clear, and avoids some of the extremes among "missional church" guys. In some ways this book is Christianity 101, but it does depth and great questions to ask yourself, and your group, if you really are doing what you ought to be doing. We have a bunch of copies in the church lobby if you want to check it out.

I can't decide between the two so I will cheat and recommend 6 books and call five by using a tie (annoying I know). The first ought to be a must read because so many struggle with finding satisfaction in their work today. In some ways, work is the major idol of our day (definitely in Silicon Valley) because it is one of the primary ways we try to create meaning for our lives in a secular culture. This book is just good. We had a great time walking through it in our Faith and Work class.

The second, Redemption, is a very pastoral book in that it gently, lovingly, walks you through overcoming serious wounds and sins in your life. I really enjoyed it and am hoping and praying to have a group in our church walk through it in the future as a part of Redemption Groups for those struggling with abuse, pornography, eating disorders, or whatever else is preventing you from living life to its fullest in Christ.

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