This has not been my best reading year in terms of number of books. However, I was able to read a few great books that are worth mentioning. So, I proudly present to you my top five books of 2010.
- Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ
I love Eugene Peterson’s writing. I consider him one of my “author mentors”. I rarely have anything bad to say about anything he has written and this is no exception. In fact, I think that this is his best book yet. Yes, that is saying a lot. This book is essentially an exposition of Ephesians and he offers an stunningly realistic look at the reality of the thing we call “church.” I read this book during one of the harder times of my ministry life and it was so comforting to be reminded that the church is not always pristine, nor even pleasant. At the same time, it is so worth all the effort because it is through the Church that God is working. Eugene has helped remind me that we are all growing up in Christ and therefore all in process. However, this does not mean we can just sit back and be okay with being screw-ups. Two words emerged to form a phrase that has been a bit of a mantra for me this year: “Patient tenacity.” This is how we need to approach the christian life and church life. We need to approach it with an attitude of patient tenacity.One of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Church is an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines: death of nations, death of civilization, death of marriage, death of careers, obituaries without end…the practice of resurrection is an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, live that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.”
- Finding our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time
I love out of the box leadership books. In all the conversation this year about the death of leadership, it is leadership books like these that are actually worth our time. That is, books that deconstruct the top-down, machine driven leadership systems that we have created in the last 100 years. I think that in church environments (established as well as church planting contexts) we pastors and leaders tend to have issues of control which is rooted in a distrust of our congregations. This distrust isn’t often admitted or even realized, but I’m convinced it is there. But, it seems to me that we build church/community systems and structures assuming that people will not be committed and will not fall in line with our mission. As a result we build in structures and create models that tend to control people. This book gives us a better way forward. I think I have found one of my new favorite authors.
- The Next Evangelicalism
I think this is a really, really important book. Hard, but important. I blogged about this book at length a few months back. I talked about the importace of submission in the topic of diversity in this post. I won’t say much more about it here, I’ll let you read the post if you are interested.
- Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace
I am a little late to the game on this one. I actually bought this book quite a few years ago before I was to hear Miraslav Volf speak but did not get it read. Wow, I’m sad I waited so long to read it. This is an incredible book on the nature of forgiveness and generosity in light of the grace of God. Seriously, if you are looking for a book that will give you some new things to think about, order this one today. Volf is a brilliant mind and in this book he has given us a great and readable gift.
- When the Church Was Family
I admittedly have not finished this book. But I have been enjoying it immensely. There are some really challenging thoughts here on the ways that our individualized worldview is in deep contrast with the worldview of those in biblical times. I can not say too much about it because I am still digesting it but I have been really surprised by how much I’m enjoying this book.