It’s crazy to believe that it’s been almost a year since I graduated from college. That’s seriously nuts! But anyways, after I graduated and no longer had hundreds of required pages to read each semester, I realized that I actually had time to read stuff that I was able to choose for myself. I then set a goal to read at least 2 books a month, which I plan to continue for as long as I can. That being said, with all the major magazines posting their own “To-Read” books from 2012, I thought I’d make my own list. So here we go. Here are the top ten books I’ve read in the past year that I recommend to all of you:
10. The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg
- This is a great devotional read. Ortberg is great at taking biblical, historical, and theological insights and communicating them simply for all readers to understand.
9. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt
- Platt is a strong biblical scholar and doesn’t water anything down for the sake of comfort. So read this book, but beware! It’s because of this that I’m going on a mission’s trip this summer!
8. Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity by Lauren Winner
- There are a lot of books about sex, Christianity, singleness, dating, marriage, and anything that you can think of to go with those topics, but not many engage the topic of sexuality from a strong theological perspective. But Winner does just that in an approachable and relatable style. This is my #1 recommended read on the topic of sexuality, particularly for those struggling with how to be Christian and single.
7. Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Book 1) by Richard Paul Evans
- Sometimes I seem to forget that fictional books still exist, but thanks to my sister who’s a teacher and Richard Paul Evans fan, I came across this one to mix things up a little bit. This is a simple read for young adults, but deals with real life issues such as physical disabilities and bullying….oh, and super powers! Now I just need to get Book 2.
6. Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones
- In the past year, I’ve become quite an Andy Stanley fan (which you can see by the fact that there are two Stanley books on this list; and if I make a list next year for 2013, I’m sure Deep and Wide will be on it). This is a must read for any growing preacher. Whether you agree with his method or not, it will certainly challenge you on your view of preaching and how you go about it.
5. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
- My only regret about this book is that I read it too fast. I wish I had gone slower and let each chapter sink in. I think one of the most significant issues with American Christianity today is that we ignore the holiness of God and our call to be like Him. This is a boost and a challenge for every Christian as it forces you to consider how mild you may view our HOLY God.
4. Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley
- This is one of those books that I’m not joking when I say every young leader should read, or at least skim. In the past few months, it has significantly impacted my personal approach to leadership and ministry. It’s an easy read, but powerful nonetheless.
3. It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel
- We can’t quite describe “it”, but we know when churches have “it” and we definitely know when they don’t. Groeschel digs into that x-factor in churches that differentiates the growing church from the dying one. This was a read that highly impacted me personally, caused me to think outside the box, and left me with dreams for what God can do through me and the ministry I’m leading. It’s particularly inspiring for those discouraged or stuck in a rut.
2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- After about two years, I finally got the chance to finish this book. Sad that it took me so long, but dude, so worth it! You can’t go wrong with Lewis. And this book really messes with you. There’s now no forgetting about the enemy we each face every day in spiritual warfare.
1. A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Gene Edwards
- This book gets my number one slot of recommendation because it’s a book that EVERY Christian should read. Have you ever struggled with authority? Wondering what you should do? When should you submit? When should you fight? Edwards takes readers through the life of David and the decisions he had to make when faced with life and death situations in leadership. This is a book on my shelf that I should probably read over and over throughout my years.
Well, that’s my list! Though I do have one honorable mention:
Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services by Nelson Searcy, Jason Hatley, and Jennifer Dykes Henson. I had to mention this one because it helped me ask some good questions when I started a young adult ministry back in June. If anyone is at the beginnings of a ministry with a regular worship service, this might be a good book to read!
So for those of you who enjoy reading and are looking for a good book, you now know my suggestions. And if you do decide to read one, let me know, because I also love book discussions!