Finding great Christian books that are worth the time, edifying for the mind and good for the soul is not as easy as it used to be. With so many Christian publishers having been purchased by secular entities, it becoming harder to find that “gem” that is a must read. With that in mind, here are my recommendations for the spring.
1. A Loving Life by Paul Miller – I did not think it was possible for Miller to top the writing in his seminal book, A Praying Life that has now become the go to book on prayer. This is certainly my favorite book of the ten that I am going to recommend. In it, he tackles the tough questions at the heart of our struggle to love head-on. Drawing from the book of Ruth, A Loving Life offers the help we need to embrace relationship, endure rejection, cultivate community, and reach out to even the most unlovable around us as we discover the power to live a loving life. I was profoundly challenged to evaluate how I love those in my life in a way that reflects how deeply I am loved by my heavenly father.
2. Everyday Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis– I am currently reading this book and enjoying every page. Written from the context of doing church in the post-Christian world of Great Britain, it has a lot to say about doing church in the USA as well. Many of the leaders in my own local church are reading it right now and being impacted by the concepts and ideas that they discuss. Their premise is that we live in an increasingly post-Christian culture. More and more we find ourselves on the margins as less and less people have any intention of ever attending church. What used to work doesn’t work anymore and we need to adapt. I really like their emphasis on living out the gospel in every sphere of life so that like the early church we will once again attract people because of “the aroma of Christ.”
3. Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower – As a Sunday school teacher of both children and adults, I am always drawn to Christ centered material that will help me point people to Jesus. In this new book, Jack makes the point that millions of church kids are growing up and deciding to leave the church. They listened attentively in Sunday school, made friends, and seemed committed. But one day, they quit. What happened? The Bible says we love God because he first loved us. So if we are not primarily teaching our kids about God’s love for us in Christ, we may miss our opportunity to capture their hearts. I love the fact that Show Them Jesus challenges the culture of low-stakes, low-expectations teaching and invites teachers to do nothing less than teach and treasure the good news of Jesus in every lesson.
4. What’s Best Next by Matt Perman – As a follow up to Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy, this is a great companion piece. In it, Perman states that productivity isn’t just about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done—the things that count, make a difference, and move the world forward. He shows us that when we take God’s purposes into account, a revolutionary insight emerges. Surprisingly, we see that the way to be productive is to put others first—to make the welfare of other people our motive and criteria in determining what to do (what’s best next). I love his emphasis on doing work that matters and giving me a practical approach for increasing my effectiveness as a leader.
5. Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung – This prolific young evangelical writer has taken the Christian book publishing industry by storm and recently won the coveted Christian Book of the Year Award. In this new book, he unpacks what the Bible says about the Bible. He deals with practical questions that both Christians and non-Christians have about the Bible. His aim is to show that the Bible is knowable, necessary and enough and how that should impact our lives. In a day when the word of God seems to be diminished by every new blog post that comes down the pike, this book is very timely. Far too many younger evangelicals are being persuaded that the Bible is too complex, insufficient for the modern world that we live in and not really relevant to the problems we face. I am delighted that CLC will be publishing a new book this fall called Blurry – Bringing Clarity to the Bible, which will be a great companion piece.
6. What’s Your World View by James Anderson – As a parent of teens who are facing big life choices, this book is of real interest to me. This innovative book is an interactive journey of discovery aimed at helping you understand and evaluate the options when it comes to identifying your worldview. Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief for World Magazine had this to say “What’s Your Worldview? is a brilliant concept, because each generation stumbles into its own ways to learn about God. Francis Schaeffer spoke about truth to many now old. James Anderson speaks to the young who grew up with ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, where the outcome depends on the choices readers make. A great gift for thoughtful teens who need to choose wisely.”
7. This World is Not Ours to Save by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson – This is a very practical and necessary book for the next generation of young adults growing up with the pressure to live “radical” lives of meaning and purpose. So many really do want to save the world, and have a dizzying array of worthy causes to pursue. But passionate enthusiasm can quickly give way to disillusionment, compassion fatigue or empty slacktivism. As they move from awareness to mobilization, they bump up against the complexities of global problems—and liking Facebook pages only goes so far. In this book, Wigg-Stevenson casts an alternate vision for doing good based on the liberating truth that only God can save the world. This has to be good news to a generation that can sometimes see “missional” as the “new legalism”.
8. Called to Stay by Caleb Breakey – Written from a millennial to his own generation, this book is passionate plea for his contemporaries to consider staying in the church and making a difference. In Called to Stay Breakey takes a refreshingly honest look at the church, the problem of Millennials leaving, and the stark reality of why the church desperately needs them. He holds nothing back as he unleashes an ambitious rallying cry to heal the church and inject his generation’s desire for truth, passion, and conviction into other believers. I love what renowned Christian author Kyle Idleman has to say about this book, “Before you leave your church, before you spread rumors about your church, and before you abandon the church altogether, read Called to Stay. If you read this book with an open mind, it just might change your perspective of what it means to be a church member.”
9. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller – One of my favorite authors has tackled an issue that has plagued the church for millennia. It is written in the same vein as the two classics, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, which was published more than thirty years ago, and C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, published more than seventy years ago. It is destined to become the definitive Christian book for our generation on why bad things happen and how we should respond to them. I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with grief and suffering.
10. Visions of Vocation by Steve Garber – I am including this in my list because it is so highly recommended by my fellow book lover Byron Borger. This is what he had to say about it, “I’ve mentioned more than once that this has been, in my experience, the best book I’ve read in years. It is so eloquent, thoughtful, interesting, and important. Garber’s call to care deeply about the world, even as we sense its hurts and brokenness, and to be responsible agents within the contours of history, is beautiful and vital. If you know young adults who are idealistic and care deeply about the world, this would be a significant gift to honor them at this season of their life.” This one is moving up the list of my “must read and recommend” books for the year.