Reading the Signs of Daily Life
By Henri Nouwen (HarperOne, 2013)

The Facts: The final volume of Henri Nouwen's spiritual trilogy explores four avenues of discernment. The first, "read the way forward" (reading books and other writings), and the third, "pay attention to people in your path," are more straightforward. It's the second (read the book of nature) and the fourth (discern the signs of the times) that will likely stretch readers. Even those who do not agree with Nouwen will benefit from hearing from his insights in this book. In the last section of the book, Nouwen gives his thoughts on discerning questions of vocation, presence, identity, and time.

The Slant: This book is classic Nouwen: deep, wise, and honest. He gives multiple examples of reading the signs of daily life in his own experience. One rather powerful display of transparency: "I found myself speaking to thousands of people about humility and at the same time wondering what they were thinking of me." What church leader can't identify with that? I have benefitted from many of Nouwen's books and this one is no exception.—Bob Mink

What Every Pastor Should Know

101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church
By Gary L. McIntosh and Charles Arn (Baker, 2013)

The Facts: With real life examples, a scriptural backing, and hard research, McIntosh and Arn show what it takes for a church to grow, welcome guests (not visitors), and start and maintain classes or groups, and more. They cover financial issues such as building campaigns and address what portion of the budget should go to different expenditures. The book provides a wealth of information and data to help churches make the most of their efforts.

The Slant: The title might give the impression that this is a book of ministry maxims and inspirational quotes. It's not. The book is built on data, observation, and the Bible. Every church will run up against the challenges and questions the book addresses. It also contains helpful metrics for different areas of ministry and timely tips for correcting weak areas. What Every Pastor Should Know lives up to its title. Any church leader will benefit from having this volume within reach.—Barnabas Piper

Encounters with Jesus

Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions
By Tim Keller (Dutton, 2013)

The Facts: Tim Keller, one of the finest Christian thinkers of our day today, examines 10 interactions Jesus has with people in the Gospels. In each instance Keller defends the humanity and deity of Jesus while helping the reader draw closer to him in a deeply personal manner. In the end, the reader is left with both a stronger foundation of faith and a more vibrant love for the Savior.

The Slant: Think of this book as sermons for church leaders. It answers questions, and responds to doubts. The book reflects Jesus' ministry in both content and tone. Keller tackles hard questions while holding out comfort for those who are hurting. Readers will see Jesus afresh while gaining a better understanding of how to respond to the most common pressing questions of faith in an intelligent and winsome way.—Barnabas Piper

Boundaries for Leaders

Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously In Charge
By Dr. Henry Cloud (Harper Business, 2013)

Resting on more than two million bookshelves across the country is the 1992 bestseller Boundaries. Henry Cloud and John Townsend's clear, biblically-based book called readers to set limits, organize schedules, and restore sanity to hectic lives. The book's wild success spawned two decades of spin-offs: Boundaries for dating, kids, teens, marriage—many of which have been praised by church leaders.

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