Are you looking for essential reads for your reading list in 2017? Last week, I let you guys know about one of my audacious goals. I’m looking to read 52 books this year. That might be a tad much for you. So I wanted to offer you an alternative. I’ve selected ten essential reads that I’d suggest you read if you are interested in your own spiritual growth and development. I read and enjoyed all of them in 2016. I’ve included a synopsis of each book.
10 Essential Reads for 2017
1. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt
David Platt is the real deal. He left a successful megachurch pastorate to lead up a missions organization because of a conviction to live out the gospel as articulated in Matthew 28. He had it all. But the gospel compelled him to go and make disciples outside of the church’s four walls. This book is about that radical call to discipleship. Very convicting.
2. Every Day I Fight by Stuart Scott
Though this book isn’t a distinctively Christian title, it was one of my favorite reads last year. Stuart Scott is a former ESPN anchor—one of the first African-Americans to anchor the network’s flagship show Sportscenter. The book recounts his battle with cancer and created a sense of urgency in my own life. Scott writes, “This is what Cancer does. It makes everything profound. It makes everything urgent.” A good reminder for our short-lived time on this Earth.
3. #Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel
Craig Groeschel is a pastor, leader, and innovator. I love Groeschel’s leadership podcast and listen to it regularly. This book is about eliminating the noise in our lives. Especially the noise known as “Social Media”. In the book, Groeschel offers 8 biblical values to help restore balance in our lives. He also offers ten commandments to for using social media to grow the reader’s faith. Worth the read for those who aren’t too proud to admit they spend an exorbitant amount of time on social media.
Borrowing from Jim Collins’ wildly successful Good to Great, Ingram offers a Christian version that lays out ten practices great Christians have in common. He presents a good list of practices to help do some self-evaluation. I was especially challenged by his chapters on taking great risks and enjoying great moments. Those are two things I certainly need to work on.
5. Understanding the Great Commission by Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever
You could read this book in one sitting. It’s extremely short but looks at a familiar passage with piercing insight. The authors argue that churches are at the center of God’s Great Commission plan—which is a sobering thought. The fact that God would entrust his mission to broken people like us…mind boggling. But he does. And that Great Commission needs to be carried out in the life and work of the church. A good primer and a good reminder for the task before us.
6. Disciplines of a Godly Man/Woman by R. Kent Hughes
One of my favorite titles on spiritual disciplines. Hughes pastorally walks through the importance of implementing spiritual disciplines in your life and encourages readers to grow in their faith in Christ. For women interested in the same, Hughes’ wife offers a companion book called, Disciplines of a Godly Woman.
7. Breaking Down Barriers: A Black Evangelical Explains the Black Church by Dwight Perry
Racial tension filled 2016. I think some of it stems from ignorance—specifically ignorance when it comes to history. You’d be surprised at how little evangelicals outside of the Black Church understand about the Black Church. This book is by no means a comprehensive look at the Black Church. It does offer some good history on the Black Church and its role in American history. Especially helpful was Perry’s Distinctives of the Evangelical Black Church and strategies for continued growth. I think he’s dead on with his assessment.
8. Subversive Kingdom by Ed Stetzer
Ed is my new boss. Before I started, I asked him what I could read to prepare for my new role. He suggested this book. And I’m glad he did. In the book, Ed pushes the reader to demonstrate faith through living, relating, and caring for those around us. He also makes a point to let the reader know that the kingdom is easy to miss (in fact, the disciples nearly missed it and the king was standing in their face). Good read on the subversive nature of the Kingdom of God and how we are to govern ourselves as its citizens.
9. Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey
A very good practical read on the different categories of racial solutions and what makes for the best solution. It helps create a common vocabulary for different approaches to racial reconciliation and also gives a gospel-centered solution to breaking down racial barriers.
10. Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
This book wound up as my favorite read for 2016. Most Christians don’t want to admit that their prayers get repetitive and monotonous. If we aren’t careful, our prayer life suffers because of it. Whitney’s method was refreshing for me and infused my prayer life with scripture-filled communion with God. It’s a simple method, but potentially life changing. A short, powerful read on prayer as a spiritual discipline. Pick this book up and make it one of your essential reads for 2017.
Question: What kind of books are you looking for this year to help you grow spiritually?