My Favorite Books of 2008
It is customary, if not cliche, to end the year with lists. Tonight I was thinking through some of the books I read in 2008 and decided to post my favorite books of 2008. Here they are (listed in alphabetical order by author):
God’s Empowering Presence by Gordon Fee. This book has been the source of my “personal devotions” for the last several months. Fee is a master of Pauline exegesis and my understanding of God’s Word has grown tremendously. Even though I’ve read this book before and even had his daughter as a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary (for a class on the Holy Spirit!), Paul’s understanding of the Holy Spirit has really come alive for me in a new way this year. Perhaps that’s the Holy Spirit at work…
The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch. This book is a fantastic introduction to missional thinking, including both missional theology and missional practice. It is a dense book but stretched my thinking tremendously. This book was even more fun because I read it along with my Co-Pastors and the entire Elder Board. Needless to say it lead to some fun and thought-provoking conversations.
Leadership on the Line by Marty Linsky and Ronald Heifetz and Linsky. Unlike my Co-Pastor John, I’ve never been a big reader of traditional leadership books. But this year I read several. This book is by a couple of Harvard Business School professors who provided me with an understanding of technical versus adaptive challenges and the leadership required for each. This distinction has challenged me considerably. Now I just need to learn to do a better job of putting it into practice!
The Present Future by Reggie McNeal. I had the privilege of sitting under Reggie for a week in Hawaii this year. Reggie is a lot of fun and a very challenging missional thinker. Reading all of his books is just like sitting in his class. This book is a fantastic summary of the missional church. I’m looking forward to his new release in 2009, Missional Renaissance.
The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh. Even though I learned a lot from the Harvard business guys, leading a congregation is different than leading a business. This book by Roxburgh expanded upon the concepts of technical and adaptive challenges and applied them to congregational ministry. I’m still trying to grasp everything in here, but it has really challenged the way I am thinking about leading a congregation.
The Ministry of the Missional Church by Craig Van Gelder. Van Gelder is a missional theologian who provides not only missional theology in this book, but missional practice. This book provides perhaps the most important concept in understanding the missional church: the church is, the church does what it is, the church organizes what it does (or, shorthand, the nature of the church leads to the activity of the church).
Don’t Stop Believing by Mike Wittmer. Mike’s teaching had a tremendous influence on me while I was in seminary, and he continues to influence me through his books. Don’t Stop Believing is a fun, engaging, and important book addressing one of my favorite subjects, the Emerging Church Movement. Readers will grow philosophically, theologically, biblically, and will be better equipped to interact with one of the most formidable movements in North American Christianity this century.
Finally it is important to put two books into a special category. These are books written by first-time authors and friends. If these two books are any indication, they both have a long and wonderful writing career ahead of them:
Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns. Chris can add “great writer” to his resume of “great pastor” and “great preacher.” This book is wonderfully written, but more importantly, exegetically profound. I think Chris single-handedly challenges what 99% of Christians think about forgiveness. I think God will use this book to help a lot of people.
Virtual Integrity by Dan Lohrmann. I’m not sure what is more exciting, reading Dan’s book or sitting across from Dan at Bennigans talking about his book. Dan is passionate about this book and how God might use it to help indivdiuals, families, and the entire world. I have no doubt that God will use Dan to accomplish all of these things and more.
This is also the first time that I have been involved in a book launch. It was a privilege and a joy to launch this book at Grand Ledge Baptist Church and to experience it with Dan’s family and friends. What a great memory from 2008! I look forward to walking alongside Dan in 2009 to see where the Lord leads.