I. LOVE. TO. READ.
For any other nerds out there who mark ‘reading’ as their favorite hobby, below are 10 of my favorite books I was privileged to read this year:
1. Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible by George H. Guthrie
This year I read the Bible through chronologically for the first time. I highly recommend it. For some reason, for me, I enjoyed it better than any other approach. Guthrie’s compilation of the passages was very helpful. On day seven of each week, he does a tremendous job of summarizing everything you have read in about 2 paragraphs.
2. Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley
I recently became a huge Andy Stanley fan. His mission is to create churches unchurched people love to attend. This book is how they do it in Georgia. Whether you agree with him or not, if you are somewhat interested in church health, I think you will find this book to be an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
3. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
If I had to pick a favorite read for the year, this would be it. As a matter of fact, it is next on my list to read through again for this upcoming year. If you communicate to groups of people, at any level, I think you will find the research composed by the Heath brothers will add much value and strength to what you do.
4. One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill
The one thing you cannot do in heaven is share the Gospel with unbelievers. Unbelievers will not be there. Cahill not only provides compelling biblical reasons for why Christians must share their faith, but he also provides ample practical suggestions for doing it.
5. Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul by Gary Thomas
If you are a Southern Baptist who loves to eat fried chicken and banana pudding, beware. This book wore me out. . . in a good and hurtful way. Thomas does a tremendous job showing how self control and what we choose to put in our bodies directly affects our personal relationship with the Lord. It’s good, but read at your own risk. Forced me to think through some things through a biblical lens I had never used before.
6. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni
GREAT resource if you are a leader and oversee a group/team of individuals. All leaders know that anything by Lencioni is good. But this book, in my opinion, is by far his best work.
If I told you to eat a frog, what would you do? Look at me like I was crazy. Why? Because eating a frog would be disgusting. Nobody wants to eat a frog. But if you were forced to, it would be better to go ahead and get it out of the way instead of dreading the task all day. In this book, Tracy helps his readers deal with those unpleasant tasks that all of us face. He argues that if you go ahead and do those unpleasant tasks first (eat the frog), the rest of the day goes by much easier and with more efficiency.
Before I left Wynne Baptist, I ordered this book for all the staff guys there. I commented to them that if I ever had the opportunity to teach a Pastoral Ministry/Leadership course at an educational institution, I would use Reiland’s book. It is a remarkable leadership read – in particular for leaders in full-time Christian ministry. If you are a pastor and are looking for a good leadership book to read this year – I HIGHLY recommend Reiland’s work.
9. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson
All I can say for this book is that God used it in a unique way in my life this Spring when I was seeking His will about moving to El Dorado. Thinking back on it now, I am not sure if I would agree with everything Batterson says. However, I can testify to the reality that the heavenly Father used it mightily to lead me this year. Batterson does a tremendous job of encouraging God’s people to pray. Pray and expect God to move in response. I am grateful for this work.
10. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul David Tripp
The associate pastors at FBC El Dorado are working through this book right now. Let me just say this – and please take my word for it: If you are in the ministry in any way, shape, form, or fashion – read this book. If not, buy it for your ministers.