I am always disappointed when I see the list of best-selling Christian books in my local Christian bookstore. There is so much published under a Christian banner that is simply self-help, or broadly spiritualistic, or plain heretical. (One online comic has summarized the best-selling list of Christian books for 2014 well here: http://adam4d.com/2014-bestsellers/).
But this doesn’t mean that there are no Christian books that are worth reading! By no means! There are many helpful, faithful Christians who use books as a way to help everyday Christians think through issues and serve God. As a pastor I read a lot of books, and I am using this blog post to recommend some books I have read in the past year that I found personally helpful, and which will definitely serve you better than the best-selling list. (The books are in no particular order).
Taking God at His Word – Kevin DeYoung
I cannot recommend Kevin DeYoung to you highly enough. I have read and benefitted from many of his books, including books on important topics like the will of God, the emerging church, and busyness. His latest book on the Bible is both helpful and clear. In a sense, there is nothing new here: he simply explains in simple terms what Reformed, Protestant Christians believe about the Bible. He unpacks what it means for the Bible to be infallible, sufficient, clear, necessary and more in less than 150 pages. It is straightforward and easy to read.
Can we still believe the Bible? – Craig Blomberg
This is more one for the people who have the patience to go a little deeper into the modern challenges to the inerrancy and usefulness of the Bible. Blomberg is a scholar and engages with challenges and issues around translation and inerrancy ably and clearly. It was encouraging to me to find in the conclusion a respected scholar calling for people to read the Bible and come to Jesus. (Unfortunately, not as common as you might think).
Why Cities Matter – Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard
All Nations is a city church, and thus I am often reading what is released on the unique opportunities and issues to do with ministry in a city. This book is really more sociology than theology, though it does deal with what the Bible says about cities. It shows that the rise in urbanization in the world is led by a range of issues that it is helpful for us to understand if we are to effectively reach those who live and work in cities. It is short, thought-provoking, and relevant to people who work or worship or study in the city.
Serving without sinking – John Hindley
I spent a previous blog post reviewing this, but I recommend this again here as I found it dealt with an important topic well. I have personally at times felt bitter or unmotivated as I serve God and his people, and it seems a common experience that we don’t use the word ‘joy’ to describe Christian service. Again, short and to the point, easy to read, good to give to any Christian.
Series of blog posts by Tim Challies on organization
This last recommendation is not a book, but a blog. I have followed Tim Challies, a Canadian pastor, for some time and usually find he has good things to say. He had a series of blog posts on organization last year. (One of the last ones can be found at www.challies.com/articles/how-to-get-things-done-maintaining-the-system, and there is a summary of the previous posts at the bottom of that blog post.) Those who know me know that I think organization is vitally important as part of faithfulness, and Tim Challies expressed this well theologically and practically.
Reading is a wonderful discipline and a great help to me. Thoughtful books and blog posts can make me rethink how I act, how I think about issues, and help me to practice my godliness. I pray these recommendations will be a blessing to you as well.