Updated: Nov 17, 2019
It's summertime, and everyone is shifting gears into a more laid back approach to life. The kids are out of school, families are taking vacations, long afternoons at the beach or by the poolside become more common - and all of that makes it the perfect time to grab a book from the church library and lose yourself in it for a while!
In this post, which will be the final post of the ministry year (up next, summer hiatus!), we load you up with great suggestions of books to enrich your life, inform your thinking, and inspire your soul. Check out what we have for you!
Spiritual and Religious - Tom Wright
Don't let the casual moniker fool you, this is the same Tom Wright that more famously goes by the initials N.T. in his academic writings. When you see "Tom" on the cover of a book though you know that he is not writing for his ivory tower colleagues, or even seminary educated pastors, but for the rank and file people in the pew (or around the table as the case may be). In his most recent book he tackles the idea that we live in an age where everybody is spiritual but no-one wants to be seen as religious. In looking at this phenomenon Wright takes the reader back to the first century origins of the church and shows how we are now more like the people the apostles were ministering to than we have been in centuries, and how we face the same choices today that the first generations of the church faced in their day. Do we compromise with the paganism of the day, or do we retreat into an unbiblical dualism that de-spiritualizes the faith (gnosticism)? What if a third way was right before us the whole time? Wright makes the mystery and the majesty of a truly trinitarian faith accessible and compelling in this book and anyone would be enriched by spending some time with it this summer.
The Pastor - Eugene Peterson
I love me some good Eugene Peterson, but this work is somewhat different than what you might expect if you've read many of his books. The Pastor is not a devotional, or a theology book, rather it is a memoir. The story of the life and ministry of one of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers of a generation. Through it he traces not only his own story through the ups and downs of ministry, but gives you insight into his heart and motivation for what he does. Peterson first and foremost sees himself as a pastor, and all that he has done in his career always flows out of that calling and identity. I found his self-disclosure to be compelling and inspiring as a pastor myself, and I think that for the average lay-person who has not grown up in a pastor's home, or spent time answering the vocational call to ministry, this book does a great job of pulling back the curtain to reveal the heart behind the job. An A+ read for anyone who enjoys memoir or biography as a genre.
A Woman's Place - Katelyn Beaty
Very few books that I have read lately have garnered as many sideways glances as when I sit in a coffee shop, or at the neighbourhood wading pool and pull out this book. The title itself seems to elicit disdain and judgment, especially for those who have no idea who the author is, or what her thesis might be. But let me tell you at the outset, this is not a book about putting women in their place so much as it is a book about helping women find their place in the world that continues to change the rules of the game midway through. Katelyn was the first female managing editor in Christianity Today's history (also the youngest), and has taken her years of work at the magazine and her experience with women in all sorts of situations and callings between the home, the office, and the world. If you've read Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" you may recognize a familiarity with some of the concepts in this book, but do not write it off as a christianized version of that landmark secular work - A Woman's Place goes further and deeper than Lean In in very significant ways, into a more wholistic picture of calling and vocation that I think (a dangerous thing to say as a man, I know) is more applicable to the average woman in the world who is not the COO of one of the biggest companies in the world. Obviously, this book is targeted at the female demographic, but as a man, I found it enlightening myself and if you can tolerate the sideways glances, I would suggest it to the men of the church as well.
God Has a Name - John Mark Comer
Spoiler Alert: If you heard my sermon on June 24th (Celebration Sunday) you've already had a sneak peak at the central thesis of this book. That being said, my 15 minute sermonette hardly does justice to the amazing work that Comer has achieved in this book. Rarely do I come across a book that is both theologically robust and accessibly simple the way this book is. It is the perfect follow-up study to our six-month journey as a church through the book of Exodus. The entire book is based around the words of Exodus 34:6-8, and yet it never gets repetitive or stale or irrelevant. Quite simply this might be the best book I've read in the past year and I would love for more of you to read it too! A must read for the summer months.
There you go! Four great suggestions to get you through the summer. This is the season when I do all of my reading and so I hope to be back in the fall with a new list of great books for you to enjoy!