Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best reads of 2012

1. Centre Church: Will Mancini said of this book "I am halfway through this book and I believe it is the most important book on church leadership written in my lifetime'. All the books that Keller has written have been a blessing to me but this one is his 'magnum opus' and offers the clearest analysis of how to be, create and lead a gospel and grace-saturated church. It collects together all the strands of Keller's teaching (three-ways to live, contextualisation, cities, engaging with culture etc) and wraps it all up in one go-to reference text that I (and you) will be dipping into for years to come.

2. The Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom: This got lots of airplay on the blog this year and offers pastiches of places and people that have influenced Emery White. There is tons of wisdom, story, place and people here that is all woven into a book that will live with you long after you are finished. It will also make you want to go on pilgrimage to some of the places that he writes of so beautifully and affectionately. 

3. Rod: Dare I put this on my list. Here's the thing. I was rushing through Gatwick airport and needed a book to read so I grabbed the first one that appealed from the bestseller display. Now dear old Rod has had a life and in its stream is more relational carnage than you can drive a bus through. But he is also a supremely talented man and tells you the history of rock and roll from 1960 to the present day. If you are going to have a life with no Jesus that indulges your every whim Rod may well have lived that life. But he has not seemingly for a moment (save one sentence in the book) contemplated his maker or any eternal purpose to his work and so it all leaves you feeling rather empty and lost.  Read with caution.

4. To be delivered in the event of my death: This is the book I recommended and gave away most during 2012. Chris writes letters that capture a key truth and he does this in a very engaging and accessible way. One friend who I recommended it to gave it to her friend who then went and bought three more for her friends to read. The chapter entitled 'Why?' kept someone up late into the night reading. If you want a giveaway book for the spiritual seeker in 2013 this might be the one to slot into the armoury. 

5. Dangerous Calling: This is a book that requires any pastor to come to terms with all their xxxx (although clearly he doesn't put it quite like that). Pastors (of which I am one) have issues and this book forces them out into the open and says to you 'What are you going to do about that then?' This book will be one that will continue to challenge and confront me as I walk through the year ahead. Tripp is, I fear, not yet quite done with me. I would also commend you reading this on behalf of your pastor. It will give you insights into how to care for, encourage and bless them in their calling and work of leading and teaching you. 

6. The Agony and the Ecstasy:  Michelangelo was a man who was obsessed and this book will totally and utterly immerse you in his world. I have an A level in History of Art  (C grade) and have meant for years to get around to reading this book. I took it on a two week break and really enjoyed connecting with this incredible man's story. You will come away from reading it planning a week's break in Florence with no other intention but to see his sculpture. Read this and be transformed. 

7. The Holy Spirit in Mission: I read this book in one sitting and it reminded me that God really does still do stuff. Now of course I know this and as someone who has just planted a church I surely know this better than most. This is a book about the Holy Spirit doing 'the stuff', as Wimber called it, through ordinary Joe's like you and me. Loved this- but it may just have caught me at the right time. 

8. Loving mercy: Much like our hearts needing a HS spin so too they also need a 'Loving mercy' overhaul. My heart does anyway- constantly. Si's book is a little dynamo of stories, passion, truth and challenge about what it means to be people who grow into those who truly do 'love others'. 

9. God of the Mundane: Matt Redmond is not the famous worship leader but a man who has a proper job in a bank (I used to have one of those). It's a book about how you do life when your not waving your hands in the air or doing the coffee rota at church. You know, the rest of your life- kids, smelly socks, commuting and the job you do that pays the bills. This really blessed me. 

10. Deep and Wide: I am only halfway through this but think if you are looking for a book about how to do church for those who aren't coming this will have a thought or two to propel you into some new ideas and thinking for 2013.  

Runner up reads

Failure of nerve
Any Human Heart
Jesus never planted churches
Hitch 22
Management in 10 words





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