My Top Books of 2022

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know books play a key role in my weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythm. I have numerous books going at once. I am surrounded by books in my office. If I’m not reading then I don’t think I’m living a particularly healthy or helpful life. And when it comes to holiday periods I’m usually struggling to decide which books to leave behind and not take with me. 

This year has involved a few changes in life circumstances but it has also included a strong desire to keep reading, even though there have been times where it has lapsed for weeks on end. In any case, this year I’ve managed to work through 36 books, ranging from biography to practical theology to trashy crime novels. And, as usual, I have a few here to recommend to the interested reader.

Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life: From the Cross, for the World by Stephen J. Nichols

I can’t recommend ‘The Christian Life’ series enough, so much so that there are two on this list. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer then this is a good introduction to him. He is considered a friend to both liberal and conservative theologians with much written about his days as a pastor-theologian in Germany during the 1930-40s. It is clear Bonhoeffer was a very smart and clever man, someone with an exceptional intellect who could interact with scholarship. However he is also known for his mentorship and community-driven focus on what it means to be the church together. This book highlights Bonhoffer’s life in Nazi Germany and the tension of being a disciple in such a regime, his heart as a pastor, and the various theological themes that helped guide his life and understanding of God.

The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones – 1899-1981 by Iain H. Murray

I think this is the best biography I have ever read. Murray condenses his large two-volume set on Lloyd-Jones into one, and I think he makes it better, sharper, and more poignant. 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a significant Welsh evangelical pastor of the 20th century, sensing a call to the ministry while entering the echelons of the medical fraternity in London, England. Lloyd-Jones’ upbringing wasn’t easy, with his father making some unwise decisions for the family unit that meant they struggled financially. However, given his aptitude and some help along the way Lloyd-Jones studied and was mentored in medicine by the top doctors in Harley St, London. However, in his late-20s he sensed a call to preach and with his wife moved back to Wales to serve in a local church. After 7 years he then moved to London again and was involved as assistant or senior minister at Westminster Chapel. 

This biography gives a terrific outline of his life and the major turning points in his faith. It works through his childhood and some tragedies that occurred during that time that may have shaped him further in life. The book I have now has oodles of underlines in it and it is an encouraging and inspiring read, particularly for anyone considering or in ministry. Those seeking to know more about a minister-preacher a generation or two behind us will also find it enjoyable. 

Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus by Jeramie Rinne

I found this a helpful book to consider what the criteria for elders is and also how to think through their role in the local church. It gives a clear understanding of biblical eldership, although some will debate the complementarianism that is explicit throughout. Nevertheless, this is a book worth working through with leadership groups or other pastoral staff. It is worth talking through the chapters presented with elders themselves. This book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re in church leadership or at a church that has people considered ‘elders’ then this would be a helpful volume. 

Teach Us to Pray: The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church and Today by Justo L. González

I read a number of books on prayer in the lead up and during a series I preached through the Lord’s Prayer. I found this work to be the most fascinating as it works through each line of the prayer through a historical theology lens. That is, it talks about the meaning of the text as it has been understood by the great theologians and pastors of church history, working from the early church fathers, through the middle ages, into the reformation and then more recently. I just found this so helpful and it provided more insight into the text. It was also comforting to know how powerfully this prayer has been through the ages and that we continue to be part of that today. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Narnia series is almost an annual read for me and in this year’s read through I was struck by the classic story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Perhaps part of the joy in reading this again was that I read it with my daughter too, but it again highlighted those Christian themes of discipleship, love, sacrifice, and the whole good versus evil things as well. If you’ve never read it then you’ve got to grab a copy. If you have and it’s been a while then I’d recommend returning to it. 

Preaching for God’s Glory by Alistair Begg

Preaching has gone up a step for me this year. In becoming a senior pastor the majority of the years preaching has now fallen to me. This being the case I thought this short book on preaching was a helpful reminder in the task. While I may have read plenty of books on preaching there is always more to learn, think through, and be reminded of. I found this book does all of these things. Plus, Alistair Begg is my favourite preacher of this era so I knew I was going to like it. 

Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary by Jeannine K. Brown

Next year our church will spend a significant amount of time in the Letter to the Philippians. As part of my preparation I read through this commentary on the book. It’s a reasonable length, published in 2022, and an update in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. 

I found Brown engaging in her writing of this work and it gave me good insight into the issues that modern scholars are thinking through about the letter. Because it has been so recently released I feel like it has given me good oversight of things commentaries in the past may not have been thinking about. If you’re leading a Bible study on the book, preaching through the letter yourself, or just want some further depth to personal study then you won’t find much better. 

The Work of The Pastor by William T. Still

I’d never come across William Still before reading this book. He happens to be a 20th century minister of a church in Scotland and had a strong expository preaching ministry. Again, like Begg’s preaching book above, I found this a helpful volume as I stepped up into the senior leadership role. 

This is part biography, part war stories, and part ministry tips. It’s not a long book, it’s full of examples that relate to anyone who has been in ministry for a while, and it provides insights to the work from a Scottish perspective. I was encouraged and inspired in parts as it reminded me of the main focus of pastoral ministry.

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire by Jason C. Meyer

Yep, you read that right, another Lloyd-Jones book, this time in ‘the Christian Life’ series. Flowing on from the Murray biography is a dense volume that not only dips into aspects of his life but gives a greater focus on the theology Lloyd-Jones taught and lived. From a theology of God the Father and God the Son through to the work of the Spirit to a theology of prayer and preaching this isn’t an easy read but a worthwhile one in thinking through such themes. I took a few turns in getting through it but found it helpful in my understanding of God and living the Christian life with solid foundations. 

Well, this now makes it nine years in a row where I’ve published my favourite books of the year. If you’re game enough you can go back and have a read of previous years here: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021

If you’re that keen to know all the books I’ve read in 2022 then head to Goodreads to see a summary.

3 Specific Reading Reflections

Reading is an important building block in my life. It’s part of my relaxation and leisure time, it’s part of my role as a pastor, it’s part of my development both personally and professionally. Reading, forever and a day, has always been part of my life and I can’t really think of a time when I haven’t read. Maybe late high school and into university, but that’s about it.

Each year I have a certain number of books I seek to read. This number of 26 (equivalent to one per fortnight) hasn’t changed since I was 24 years old. Some years I don’t make this target, most years I exceed it. And I don’t say this for boasting sake, but I say it for goal-setting purposes. I know I won’t be able to finish a book each week. I know I won’t be able to retain as much information as I would like if I read more non-fiction than I already do. I know I prefer to read physical books over audiobooks and ebooks. I know certain things about my reading habits, now having analysed my last 15 years of reading.

However, over the years I have learnt certain aspects to reading that has helped me know myself more. This includes these three tips below. Perhaps they’ll be helpful for you as you think about your reading too.

1. Choose Books You’re Interested In

If you’re not interested in the topic or theme of a book don’t waste your time. There are too many books out there to waste time on ones you’re not interested in. For example, I’m not particularly interested in reading about military battles, so I don’t really read anything military related. I’m interested in sport biographies, particularly cricket and basketball. I’m interested in Christian history. I’m interested in junk-time crime thrillers. None of them may interest you, you may think they’d be so boring. Stay away then. Pick books you’ll be interested in, it makes reading easier.

2. Stop Reading The Book If It’s Terrible

There is no need to finish a book if it’s not happening for you. If you are finding a book isn’t meeting your expectations then just stop and leave it. You don’t have to finish every book you pick up. Last year I tried to read a very popular leadership book by one very famous and highly recommended leader. I got about 60-80 pages in and pulled the pin. I found the writing terrible, the examples used were lacking depth, and it just didn’t seem like a book worth the expectations. It was time to finish up.

3. Use A Pencil, Mark-up the Margins, and Dog-ear the Pages

A book is to be read, and to be used. Show me a book in perfect condition and I’ll show you a book that either hasn’t been read, thought about, or digested.

A book is one of the cheapest development tools, particularly if we’re thinking non-fiction, and so we should mine the gold as much as possible. What other lifelong development tool is available for $15-$25?!

When reading non-fiction I like to use a pencil to underline important sentences and paragraphs. I’ll also dog-ear the page so that I know there’s something important in the book that I can go back to and make reference to or re-read later. I also make notes or comments in the margins that spark thoughts or memories or questions. Sometimes I even write short notes at then of chapters. Doing this slows my reading down, but it also allows me to think through the various issues and helps me learn more from the book. At the end of every read I usually copy those underlines and dog-eared paragraphs into a searchable digital format.

I get it. I enjoy reading. I enjoy learning. I think it has a place and priority in life. You may not. I get it. However, if you want to get more into reading or would like to improve in it then that’s a few random reading reflections for you. Any you would add?

My Top Books of 2021

I’ll be honest. I’m not particularly satisfied with the balance of my reading this year. Sure, I well and truly went over my goal of 26 books for the year, but the balance of authors and topics just wasn’t right. If I was to analyse it I would say that I didn’t have enough ‘old’ books, ones which might have helped my understanding of the present world from the perspective of a different time and place. Perhaps this might change as I begin to think about next year’s books.

Nevertheless, there were some great books I did read this year, many of which I would strongly recommend to others and, in fact, have purchased as Christmas presents to fellow pastoral staff members. The books below are all books I gave 5 out of 5. In my opinion they were excellent.

The Care of Souls by Harold L. Senkbeil
It was no surprise this book won a 2020 Christianity Today Book Award. While Senkbeil is not of my denominational persuasion, it is clear that he has a great grasp on what it is to minister to people in a congregation. The book walks through aspects of pastoral ministry, highlighting the need to pastor souls within the system of the whole. What I found most helpful was the reminder to focus on people over programs, and the encouragement to give thought to helpful ways in which to care for people in life and death.

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
This book has also won many plaudits and has been promoted heavily in certain circles. I loved the reminder of Jesus’ own description of himself as ‘gentle and lowly.’ I found the first half of the book the most compelling—so compelling that I used Ortlund’s angle in a sermon I preached on Matthew 11:28-30. In a time of busyness, change and added pressure, this book helped to remind me of how Jesus is the one in whom we can rest.

Spirit and Sacrament by Andrew Wilson
Our young-adults group did a four-week series on spiritual gifts earlier this year. I read plenty about the topic but found this book most helpful. While the Baptist in me had a few quibbles, the understanding of the Spirit’s work through the gifts today helped solidify my continuationist position. This is not a long book, but it is profound and gets straight to the core issues surrounding spiritual gifts and ordinances.

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times by Peter L. Steinke
What other book does one need to read in the times we live when everyone seems anxious, weary, and stressed by the pressures of the day. Despite being written a little while ago, it is still helpful and helps the reader understand the ‘system’ of our churches. It can help us appreciate, not only understand, the levels of anxiety within our communities, and also how best to lead a congregation in these times. An excellent read for anyone in pastoral ministry

Visit the Sick: Shepherding the Afflicted and Dying in Your Congregation by Brian Croft
This is a short practical guide to help pastors and pastoral carers help those who are sick. Brian Croft uses his years of expertise in ministry to provide practical suggestions in how to care for those who are locked-in due to their health, or who need visiting in hospital or at home, or who need to be cared for because loved ones are dying. A perfect book to work through with a group of people and apply it to your local church community.

Read to Lead by Jeff Brown
I jumped on one of those pre-release deals to gain a whole lot of other resources alongside this book. I suspect that any of us who have written at TGCA or in these ‘Year in Books’ series would agree that our leadership has been helped by our reading. This book offers both anecdotal and research-based insight into the value of reading. It is a personal growth book with the sole purpose of encouraging leaders to read more and make time for it. I was inspired by the reminder of how the accumulation of reading helps widen and mould my leadership. The importance of reading can’t be underestimated.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
With the 20th year anniversary of 9/11 this year, there were plenty of books, podcasts, and documentaries reflecting on its impact. I found myself listening to this in-depth audiobook, covering everything from the beginnings of Al-Qaeda, the political climate of the 1970s through to 2001, and the formation of those participants involved in the event itself. It was a compelling 15-hour listen, and I’d recommend it.

Expositional Preaching by David R. Helm
Again, this book isn’t a long one but is a great reminder of the importance and place of expositional preaching in the life of the church. While there is a brief case made for the priority of this preaching in the church, I found the practical aspects formational. Topics such as the importance of systematic theology; the balance of contextualisation; the arrangement of material in the sermon; effectiveness through understanding your audience, make this book a great gift for your pastoral team or a book to work through together.

Leadership is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say – and What You Don’t by L. David Marquet
Leadership has evidently been a theme in my reading this year, and this was probably the best of the secular leadership books I read. Marquet is known for his TED talk and first book, Turn The Ship Around, which focusses on how, as the commander of a poor performing submarine, he made it the best performer by enabling others to make decisions. Leadership is Language focusses further by highlighting the need to not only ask others to collaborate but also to give people time to pause and reflect on what might help make the work more effective.

I found this book helpful in providing me with better questions to ask. Marquet provides great examples of when and how to put intentional leadership into practice through the language we use, rather than stifling collaboration through directive and authoritarian questions. This is certainly a worthwhile read for those of us leading teams of people.

This is now the eighth year in a row I’ve published a post that outlines my favourites books for the year. You can go back and have a read of previous years here: 201420152016201720182019, 2020.

This post was also published at The Gospel Coalition Australia as part of their ‘My Year In Books’ series.

If you’re that keen to know all the books I’ve read in 2021 then head to Goodreads to see a summary.

My Top Books for 2020

I’m getting in early this year by releasing my list of top reads a few weeks before we see the back of 2020. For the last six years I’ve posted about what I’ve read each year and I might as well continue the tradition into a seventh. 

I’m not sure whether it was because of what 2020 became but I have smashed any reading goals I had this year. Each year I aim to read, on average, one book per fortnight, that’s 26 books per year. By the end of May I had reached that goal. What this meant was that I had plenty of time to read more over the coming months, and as it stands today I’ve read 53 books for the year. This is really pleasing and definitely my best reading year ever. 

Throughout I’ve read a range of genres – sport biography, missions history, theology, politics, church leadership, fiction, biblical theology and commentaries, a couple of books my daughter is into, and more. There is a sense my reading this year was a bit more balanced than other years, which was also pleasing. 

So, without any further ado, I present below a list of books I thought were 5 out of 5 stars. And if you’re interested in reading my top reads from previous years you can do so here too: 20142015201620172018, 2019). 

Enjoy. 

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

I started off the year wishing for more rest, space, and slowness in my life. This book articulated the importance of rhythms and rest and Sabbath, and many other spiritual practices that help ground us in life in God. I found this an excellent book, and it’s probably time to read it again. As I look at my bookshelves I do notice it missing so it evidently was kept by someone who borrowed it! Good books always disappear. In any case, this is a helpful book that gives rise to habits and systems in life that contribute to sustaining a life-long, well-paced, Christian life.

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson

The best fiction book I’ve read, this year at least and possibly ever; although who can top The Partner by John Grisham–I digress. This is a serial killer crime thriller, one of Patterson’s first ever novels published in 1983. The suspense and the build up is terrific, and there’s a great twist at the end which gets you. It’s violent and disturbing, but what do you expect from this kind of genre? Top shelf fiction. 

On Being A Pastor by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg

Improving in my vocation and my particular role as pastor is always high on the priority list each year. And this book was certainly a big help in doing so this year. I really appreciate everything Alistair Begg shares, his sermons, conference messages, and witings. Here he partners up with his former mentor-pastor Derek Prime and they take you through the theological and practical of operating as a pastor. I found this immensely helpful to think about in my role and in developing others in the ministry. It also provided many tips to help in areas of preaching, pastoral care, time management, and the like. This along with some broader chapters dealing with calling and vocation as a whole were useful. 

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

Once we got into lockdown for a second time I became obsessed about re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Since finishing the series again I have been listening to the theatrical audio series produced by the BBC and others. I’ve been listening to them as audiobooks while in the car and doing chores, and they were easily found on YouTube. They’re so good. Anyway, a particular shout out to The Horse and His Boy and also The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (my favourite of the series). If you’ve never read this series of seven short books that detail the story of Narnia then do yourself a favour. Lewis is such a good writer and his illusions to the Christian life are throughout. 

The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

I’ll admit, there was a theme in my reading regarding spiritual practices. This was another of at least 3-4 I read overall this year. Warren really writes in an engaging way, she’s so good. And here in The Liturgy of the Ordinary she writes in the intersection of ordinary life and the Christian faith. She takes big theological understandings and helps us see their relevance in the mundane everyday practices and rhythms of life. Whether it is waking up and making your bed, to preparing food and eating with others, or doing the dishes after a meal, each has relevance to the Christian life and at times it’s a mindblow. I highly recommend getting your hands on this, I even borrowed it from the local library! 

Owen on The Christian Life by Matthew Barrett and Michael Haykin

Each year I usually read a few biographies and this year I landed on John Owen. Owen is a Puritan from the 17th century, and extremely influential in the Reformed and Presbyterian church. This book details his life alongside the theological contributions he has made to the faith. Owen is well-known for his writings and sermons, particularly around the doctrines of the Trinity, communion with God, and sin and sanctification. For example, when writing about communion with God he says:

“When the believer has a taste of this communion with his Savior, sin is bitter on the tongue. Furthermore, says Owen, the believer is on guard against sin, lest it should interrupt and disrupt this sweet communion he enjoys so much with his Savior. Owen writes: When once the soul of a believer hath obtained sweet and real communion with Christ, it looks about him, watcheth all temptations, all ways whereby sin might approach, to disturb him in his enjoyment of his dear Lord and Saviour, his rest and desire. How doth it charge itself not to omit any thing, nor to do any thing that may interrupt the communion obtained!”

Great book. Have a read. 

The Sermon on the Mount by DA Carson

I hung out reading the Sermon on The Mount for most of the year. It goes hand in hand with the themes of spiritual disciplines and grounding faith in action, among other things. And so to help understand the various sections of the sermon I read Carson’s commentary on it alongside. Carson is always clear, concise, and compelling. He’s one of the best commentators in the world and is highly regarded. This was originally a series of lectures turned into a brief commentary. Whether devotionally like me, or for preaching and teaching, I’d recommend dipping into this one. 

Anyway, there’s my list for this year. Let me know what you read and enjoyed this year, I’ll add it to my list!

Published: Choosing Love by Heidi Johnston

After a long absence I had a book review published at TGCA recently. I wasn’t really the intended audience of Choosing Love by Heidi Johnston, however it was still worth the read. It would be particularly helpful for parents to talk through with their daughters, or a youth ministry leader with their youth group or small group.

You can find the review here.

“From the outset, Johnston puts these themes of love, relationships, marriage and sex into perspective by reminding us that we are all created in God’s image: made for relationship, and therefore are to express our love and desire for one-another in the way God intends. The foundation of the imago dei, and the defining of love as that which comes from God, and shown through his Son Jesus, is an important truth to be understood for teenagers and adults alike.”

Other writing can be found here

My Top Books of 2019

Well, it’s that time of year folks.

The unveiling of the top books I’ve read for 2019.

Exciting, isn’t it?!

Continuing my long-standing tradition of pretentiously blogging a list of books I read and rated highly, I submit my 2019 edition to you.

Oh, and here’s the previous years if you wish to read those lists too: 2014201520162017, 2018.

My Top Books of 2019

Excellent. This is an excellent book. Theology of sleep. Theology of rest. Theology of living by grace. Theology of sustaining ministry. Excellent. I don’t think I could’ve started the year off with a better book. In this age of hurry, burnout, and distraction this book is a good reminder we need to slow-down in this hurried life.

A different approach from Grisham in some ways. I found the storyline great, although I know plenty of people who didn’t. As usual it’s fast-paced, full of intrigue, and picking up themes of race and culture in the American South.

I haven’t read this since I read a children’s version when a child. It was good to listen to the audiobook and I found myself reminded of how good the story of ‘Christian’ is. Some terrific Christian themes and a good reminder of what it takes to remain faithful and persevere in the marathon that is the Christian life.

This was the best youth ministry book I read all year. It only came out mid-year and I was keen to get my hands on it. As I wrote in a review:

I have not read a youth ministry book which actually quotes Hebrew and Greek in its pages. But now I have. And it’s not just quoted for McGarry to look scholarly, it’s quoted to show the meaning behind a number of texts in the Old and New Testaments that build towards the book’s aim of,

…presenting a clear and simple but thoroughly biblical framework for thinking about youth ministry as the church’s expression of partnership with the family for co-evangelising and co-discipling the next generation. (p3)

Sam Allberry writes really well about biblical sexuality and same-sex attraction. A same-sex attracted minister himself, Allberry writes this brief book about the biblical understanding of homosexuality and what it means for those who are same-sex attracted. I found this a very helpful primer on these themes.

Continuing in a similar vein, DeYoung dives deep into the various passages in the Bible which speak of homosexuality. Furthermore, he writes to those who are critics of Biblical sexuality seeking to winsomely show the fault in their understandings. It is very good on the exegetical front and a good resource for teaching on such a topic.

For a personalised summary of all the books I read this year you can check out my Goodreads infographic for 2019.

Published: A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry by Michael McGarry

A friend of mine from the USA, Mike McGarry, recently published this great book, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry. It’s an excellent read, and a much needed contribution on the theological foundations for youth ministry.

I reviewed the book and had the review published at TGCA. You can read the whole thing here.

Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 10.43.43 am

You can find my review of A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry here.

 

Published: The Power of Two by Danny Hunt

My friend and colleague, Danny Hunt, recently wrote a book about being a second-chair leader. That is, a leader that has a boss.

It’s a short book but packed with wisdom and reflection from his 30-plus years of experience in church leadership. It is aimed mainly at those who are involved in church life, but would be suitable for other industries as well.

I was fortunate to read the book recently and have a review of it published on TGC Australia.

You can find it here.

Published: Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry

I recently read the book Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry.

It’s a book I’d highly recommend. And it is a book I found time to write a reflection on to better process some of the content.

As it happens, I’ve had that reflection published as a book review at The Gospel Coalition Australia site. You can read it here.

“I couldn’t be more different from Jackie Hill Perry.

I’m a man, she’s a woman.

I’m white, she’s black.

I’m from the wealthier side of Melbourne, Australia. Jackie is from a rougher area in Chicago, USA.

I’m hetero, she’s a former lesbian.

There’s a few differences, yet at the same time we now find ourselves brother and sister in Christ. No matter the differences of the past, or the differences now, our stories intersect as part of God’s grander story in Christ. And what a privilege that is having now read Jackie’s memoir, Gay Girl, Good God.”

I found it to be a great memoir, exploring the intersection of God’s story upon Jackie’s story as she wrestles with her sexuality and upbringing. It’s well worth reading if you have the time.

The full review can be found here.

Other books I’ve read recently, and written short summaries on, can be found here.

Recently Read: April 2019

Here are some short summaries of books I’ve read recently. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like in recent time, but here are some of the books I’ve dipped into.

Recently Read_ April 2019

1. The Reckoning by John Grisham

This is the best Grisham book I’ve read in a long time. It is his usual fiction, but this time structured differently as he delves into one of the character’s past in particular detail. This is a very sad story in many ways, but keeps you interested as there are plenty of turns and twists and secrets, only to come together in the final few pages. A great read.

2. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

I hadn’t read The Pilgrim’s Progress properly, well, not that I can remember. I certainly remember the child versions I had when I lived at home. But thanks to Christian Audio I listened to it via their app. It was a great reminder of the trials and joys it is as a believer. This is Bunyan’s classic work and is an allegory for the Christian life, following Christian and his wife and family as they seek the Celestial City.  Definitely worth the read (again) and encouraging for my walk with Jesus.

3. Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry

This is a memoir, which details Jackie’s life as she has wrestled with her sexuality and lesbianism. It tells of the horrific situations she has experienced in her childhood, everything from abuse, to being discarded by her father, to family breakdown, and more. But then she tells of how she has been be called by God to follow Him and in turn find her life transformed. This is a powerful story, and great story that points more to God than it does to Jackie herself. It’s certainly worth the read.

I’ve written a more in-depth review here.

4. Tactics for Teen Ministry by Scott Petty

Scott is a youth minister up in Sydney and has written a whole selection of books for young people. This one targets the youth pastor and volunteers.

I found this book really helpful, and will most likely use some of the content to help train my leaders. It gives a good theological and ministry philosophy foundation at the beginning. The book then moves into more practical and specifics aspects of youth ministry, everything from team meetings, youth group meetings, how to prepare a talk, how to communicate to kids, parents, leaders, and the church etc. It also comes with good resources very clearly laid out in the appendices. And, it’s short – 100 pages or so.

I’d recommend this to any average youth pastor like me.

5. The Autobiography of William Jay by William Jay

I’m still working through this second half of this book but it is excellent. Jay was a minister and preacher in England during the 19th century. He was pastor of Argyle Chapel in Bath for 63 years. His story is amazing; but his reflections on life, discipleship, evangelism, church, and preaching, and writing are even better. He writes these reflections in 19 letters to his children, about ten years prior to his death. There is a wealth of gold in these letters and reflections, some of which I’ll no doubt write about in due course. You can read a little something I wrote about his views of writing memoir and keeping a diary here.


You can also read more book summaries I’ve written at the following posts: