My Top 10 Books from 2017


I love books. Every year I try to read widely and read more than the previous year. 

When I first started this discipline back in 2008, I could barely get through 5 books a year. Now, I usually average at least 10-20 books a year and hope to increase that in order to intentionally be learning, developing, and growing in all areas of my life spiritually. 

Here are the top 10 books (in no particular order) that impacted me greatly this year. May they be an encouragement to you in your spiritual development in the coming months.

1. Reaching the Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art by Peyton Jones

If you're a Christian and you're wondering why the book of Acts and American Christianity rarely look similar; this book is for you. This book is all about mobilizing the Church to be the Church just like they were in the first century. I've had the privilege of interviewing Peyton Jones on our Salty Believer podcast multiple times and he has quickly become someone I deeply respect for his church planting experience, missional expertise, and bold message to the Church. This podcast is specifically about the book and this podcast is about "A Pastor Is..." and is chalk-full of incredible insight as to what biblical pastoral leadership is.

This book will challenge your ecclesiology, missiology, and Christology from a very biblically grounded and Holy Spirit-driven kind of way in order to reimagine how we can join God in what He's already doing to reach the unreached wherever we find ourselves in society. If you want to "get in the game", this book will force you to hit your knees in prayer then hit the streets and start engaging the lost.

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2. Church is a Team Sport: A Championship Strategy for Doing Ministry Together by Jim Putman

One of the fastest growing churches in America, Real Life Ministries, is quickly becoming influential in the conversation of relational disciple-making. Jim Putnam has written a gold standard book on how to fuse team ministry, excellence, and relational ministry together for maximum impact. Full of timeless and biblical truth, this book will be a resource for many church leaders seeking to train and release leaders for effective ministry. 

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3. An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Rest and Work by Alan Fadling

This book rocked my world. In our world that is obsessed with efficiency and busyness this book is a much-needed manifesto for returning to a rhythm of life that Jesus would be pleased by. This book is one that you should read slowly in order to digest the deeply-rooted issues Fadling brings to the surface about our idols of work, efficiency, and striving. 

Read my full book review here

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4. Discipleship Uncomplicated by Warren Haynes

If you've never made a disciple or are new to making disciples, this book is for you. This short read is packed with some of the most practical and helpful discipleship principles I've ever found inside of one single book. If you apply the principles from this book you'll be well on your way to learning to make disciples that make disciples in the way of Jesus. 

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5. A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love by Milton Vincent

Jerry Bridges is often credited with the advice to "preach the gospel to yourself" each day. Because the gospel isn't a "one time use" thing; you would do well to immerse yourself in the gospel daily. This simple book, written devotionally, is one of the most transformative books I've ever spent time in. I would recommend this highly to any believe whether you've just come to faith or you've been walking with Jesus for 50+ years. The gospel is timeless and so is the helpfulness of this book.

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6. The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney

While this book is very short it is certainly not lacking in depth. This powerful little book urges the reader to keep the gospel front and center. There is a tendency in our Christian life to see Jesus and the gospel as the beginning point and then we can move on to bigger and better things. Unfortunately, that's a terrible way to view and approach the gospel; the gospel isn't just the beginning point, but it's the daily source of truth and hope for all of life. A short read yet if you've found yourself on a shaky foundation this book is for you.

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7. The Insanity of Obedience: Walking with Jesus in Tough Places by Nik Ripken

If you know anything about Nik & Ruth Ripken's life, you know that their story is a tremendous gift to the Church today. The Ripken's have lived and served as missionaries in some of the most unreached places with intense persecution among the Christians there. This book is the follow-up to Nik's first book, The Insanity of God, which I also highly recommend. I've had the privilege of interviewing Nik on the Salty Believer podcast and his insight and wisdom was powerful and challenging (Part 1 /  Part 2). If you're struggling with hardship or suffering, this book will be a great encouragement to you.

If you want to have your Christian calling shaken to the core, I'd highly recommend watching the documentary about the Ripken's story in "The Insanity of God" movie.

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8. Making Disciples: Developing Lifelong Followers of Jesus by Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore is the founder of the Hope Chapel movement and is directly/indirectly responsible for helping plant over 1,000 churches all over the world. This book is one of the most simple and readable resources for making disciples out there. Ralph has a ton of great stories and many great reminders about making disciples in the ordinary rhythms of life. Very helpful and practical for every believer looking to obey Jesus' command to make disciples.

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In my efforts to continually preach the gospel to myself, this devotional has been incredibly helpful. Paul Tripp is a gifted author who does a remarkable job applying the truth of the gospel to every possible aspect of our regular lives. He also writes out of the overflow of his own gospel-fluency and therefore writes in such a way that draws you deeper into the Word and wanting to learn more about the gospel yourself. 

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10. Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity by Gregory Coles

While I definitely do not agree with everything in this book, it was helpful in coming to a broader understanding of the conversation about Evangelicals who struggle with same sex attraction in the Church. There are some things in this book that were heart breaking to read. There were also some things that I theologically do not agree with. However, on of first steps (after knowing what the Bible says) in being able to dialogue with people who struggle in this area is to listen with the intent to understand. This book was certainly helpful in that regard. I would recommend it if you're struggling to converse on this matter because this conversation is one that is not going away nor should we be afraid to talk about it from a biblical worldview. 

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