Books of the Year

Amy and I sat down the other day to review our goals from 2018 and set some new ones for 2019. One of my goals for 2018 was to read 75 books (oops), and blog more (haha)! (I also had a goal to look into a lead pastor position if the opportunity presented itself, so check).

Consequently, 2018 was a big year of transition for our family and so many of our goals had to be massively readjusted. For 2019 I am not making any big promises: I’d like to write more, I’d like to read more, but this new job is a beast and so who knows (smiley face emoji). Nonetheless, I humbly submit my books of the year…

Top 5 Books of 2018:

Hero Maker//Gaining By Losing: These two books are foundational for understanding where things are headed at our little church in Davis. Both are focused on the essential discipleship tasks of equipping and sending. They challenge us to change the scorecard from building our kingdoms to building THE Kingdom.

God Is Stranger: Krish Kandiah is (probably) my favorite. One of my first series at Discovery was based loosely on his excellent book Paradoxology. This book picks up in a similar place challenging us to examine the weirder (and stranger) stories and characters in Scripture, because those are often the best places to meet our God. Krish smartly, but accessibly, helps us navigate the complexities of Scripture and our faith.

Reading the Bible For the Love of God: There are a lot of books out in the world on how to read the Bible. Most of them, in my humble opinion, get bits right here and there but then you have 150 pages of stuff that isn’t all that helpful. This is an “older” book that I finally read this year and as I read it I had the experience of realizing this was the book I had always been looking for. Now, when people ask me about a resource to help them understand and read the Bible this is the go-to.

Little Fires Everywhere: I did not read much outside of theology/church and crime mysteries (more on this in a moment). But I did dip outside of those boundaries a few times and in this case it was well worth it. Celeste Ng is a fantastic writer and this book will thrill you with her skills, keep you guessing until the end, and make you think about many of the layered issues in our world around race, culture, class, immigration, and raising kids.

The Fifth Risk: Michael Lewis can make anything interesting. I am convinced of this now more than ever. In this book, which I believe started as a long-form article and ended up a short book, he takes the riveting topic of government bureaucracy (I know, right), and makes it fascinating and vital.

Addendum to the Top 5:

Eldership and the Mission of God//The Board and the CEO: I have spent the last few years thinking, praying, and pondering deeply over the question of church/ministry boards and leadership (and the interaction between boards and senior leaders). These relationships are tricky and I’ve seen the dark side of this part of church life more than enough times. As with the “how-to-read-the-Bible” genre, there is a great lack of helpful resources in the “elder” genre. These two books were good gifts this year. Both do an excellent job walking through perils and pitfalls, but also painting a picture of what a life-giving, healthy board/leader relationship should look like. Pastor/elder friends, don’t read another book until you’ve worked through at least one of these!

Finally:

My sub-challenge in the reading category was to start working through a genre that I normally don’t read. A friend gave me a list of mystery novels to tackle, and so that became the theme of 2018. I read 20 mysteries this year, and it was so much fun I will continue on into the new year. I would highly, highly recommend Tana French’s Dublin Squad mysteries. They are easily the best writing of the 4 series I’ve read so far. You will feel like you know Dublin after you’ve read them. They are also a little weird (in a wonderful way) and walk the line between realism and the fantastical. If this doesn’t make any sense, just read a few of them and you’ll see what I mean. I strongly suggest reading them in order. If you don’t like it I’ll buy your copy off you for my own self.

Happy reading in 2019!


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