I love reading.
One of my mentors told me that "anyone who has ever learned anything worth knowing has put that knowledge in a book." I think he's right.
Every year I set a goal to read a certain number of books. Some years I hit my goal. Some years I don't.
Last year I read 25 books. (If you think this is impressive - don't. I know of people that read 100+ books a year!) Plus, quality over quantity matters in reading books. What we're reading should not only inform our thinking but it should then naturally lead to informed living. Right thinking leads to right thinking.
"To know and not do is to actually not know at all." A.W. Tozer
With that perspective in mind, my 2016 goal is to read 30 books. Along with other positive lifestyle changes, my wife and I are going to challenge each other to read more and watch less TV this year as well.
the top 15 books that were impactful to me in 2015:
1) Kingdom First by Jeff Christopherson & Mac Lake
If you want to see where my passion for church planting, living missionally, and seeing the multiplication of the Kingdom of God comes from, read this book. It was easily one of the most influential books I read all year. I will be using this as one of many resources for training and equipping tool for upcoming leaders and disciple-makers at Redeeming Life Church in 2016. Find on Amazon
2) Concise Theology by J.I. Packer
One of my personal growth areas is theology. This is a great resource to have as a very concise overview of all the major theological positions. Highly recommended. For those needing a quick reference in theology, this book is for you. Stout yet very readable. Find on Amazon
3) Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
In our day and age it’s becoming harder and harder to filter through cultural teachings and biblical truth on the topic of homosexuality. In this short and concise read, you’ll find a very strong biblical case against homosexuality that also encourages the reader with practical ways to walk alongside someone who struggles with same sex attraction. It also answers many of the most common questions today like: “Surely gay marriage is ok as long as the couple is faithful and committed, right?” or “Jesus never mentions homosexuality, so how can it be wrong?” as well as many other very culturally common questions and objections to homosexuality. I will be recommending this book to every Christian I know that is interested in this topic. If nothing else, it will equip you to think biblically and rightly about this topic. Find on Amazon
4) What is the Great Commission? by R.C. Sproul
This is a short yet concise look at a very crucial command of Christ: the Great Commission. Dallas Willard is famous for a book about what he calls the "great omission" which includes what this book address: making disciples and evangelism. Find on Amazon
5) Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This is a classic on Christian community that would be helpful to anyone seeking to find some biblical foundations for the "best practices" that make Christian community so beautiful. Find on Amazon
6) The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
If there is one book on evangelism you should read this year, this is it. I've read this before but it was helpful to re-read it again in light of our church planting work with Redeeming Life Church. This book is full of the much needed and refreshing "no nonsense" approach to evangelism today. Some Christians think evangelism is optional - if that's you - read this book...and good luck with that.
Find on Amazon
7) Living By The Book by Dr. Howard Hendricks
Have you ever struggled to know how to study the Bible? This is one of the most simple, practical and profound books I've ever read on the art and science of studying the Bible. If you've never read it or if you're discipling new believers, this book is a must-read. Find on Amazon
Also, if you know anything about Howard Hendricks, you know he was a master teacher. Through some cool circumstances with a mutual friend who studied under Hendricks, Pastor Bryan and I came across an old audio recording of Hendricks teaching on motivation at a Campus Crusade for Christ rally. It was very influential in my thinking as a pastor and a disciple-maker. Listen to the recording here.
8) Church Unique by Will Mancini
This was a "game changer" for me personally. In terms of ministry leadership, this is one of the most needed books in our day today. Driven by missional vision, Mancini provides tons of incredibly practical resources and tools to help you create crystal clear vision, mission, and values that drive everything in your ministry. Any leader in the Church leading anything would benefit from this book. Find on Amazon
9) Is God Calling Me? by Dr. Jeff Iorg
One of the best books on personal and ministry calling. This little book is a quick read but is so practical and helpful in discerning your calling in life and especially if you're called into ministry leadership. I have been blessed by Dr. Iorg and his writings this past year, as he is the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which is where I'm currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies degree.
10) Seasons of A Leader's Life by Dr. Jeff Iorg
Once again, Dr. Iorg has provided some priceless leadership insights in this book. In sharing his own experiences and insights, Dr. Iorg outlines the various stages, or "seasons", that leaders go through, how to make the most of each season, as well as what to expect in each season. This is a staple on leadership.
Find on Amazon
11) 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth
In our world of constant busyness and the relentless pressure to do more, this book is a much needed breath of fresh air. Taking a strong biblical approach, Sleeth addresses one of the most easily ignored commandments: the Sabbath. Providing the biblical foundation for the Sabbath, Sleeth provides great insight into living within God's design of rest and Sabbath. I was surprised at how convicting this book was and has shaped my convictions even further. Highly recommended.
Find on Amazon
12) Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson
As I have recently been diving into more pastoral leadership at Redeeming Life Church, this book has proven to be very helpful and timeless (like much of Peterson's writings). He explores three common themes: Scripture, prayer, and spiritual discernment and takes all three to a new depth of understanding in regards to the pastoral calling. A must read for anyone in pastoral leadership of any kind. Find on Amazon
13) A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
Another classic from Peterson about the Christian life being one epic journey in the same direction: discipleship in Christ. There are so many timeless principles packed in this wonderful book about worship, service, humility, joy, the Church, and so much more. Definitely a staple spiritual disciplines book for your library. Find on Amazon
14) Practicing Greatness by Reggie McNeal
This was another "game changer" for me personally in the area of leadership. McNeal unpacks a solid list of essentials that every great leader must possess. The one that struck me the most was the chapter on self-awareness. I will be referring to this book for a long time.
Find on Amazon
15) The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation by Justo L. Gonzalez
This was required reading for a seminary class this past semester and I'm so glad it was! I have never encountered such an enjoyable history book. Incredibly readable and fun, Gonzalez does a great job informing the reader on one of the most important and fascinating eras in world history. I'm looking forward to reading his second volume next semester, "From the Reformation to the Present Day". Find on Amazon
BONUS BOOK: Life On Mission by Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe
This should be mandatory reading for every person that identifies as a Christian. All of us struggle to find our calling and place in the story of God, and this book is incredibly helpful, down to earth, and helps equip every Christian to see, biblically, that they are to live as an everyday missionary in the context God has already placed them. Perfect for the new believer or the believer that has been walking with Jesus for decades. The Great Commission doesn't have an expiration date; what are you doing about it?
Find on Amazon
OTHER HELPFUL BOOKS FROM MY READING LIST IN 2015
Concentric Circles of Concern by Oscar W. Thompson
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
The 21 Most Effective Prayers Collection by Dr. Dave Earley
How People Grow by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
Stepping Up: A Courageous Call to Manhood by Dennis Rainey
So what's on my reading list for 2016?
Here's what I have so far and I know I'll add some along the way to hopefully reach my goal of 30 books in 2016. Happy reading, friends!