I'm often asked what books and blogs I read and recommend. So, without further adieu and in no particular order, here are a few I am recommending this week-- they will change next week.
The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch is a book on how to reactivate the missional DNA in the life of the church. If you are looking for a helpful book on missional related to churches this is helpful one to get. The section on communitas alone is worth the price of many books.
The latest book by Tim Keller, Generous Justice, speaks to us on the theological balance needed to effectively minister to the poor and hurting. This is where a lot of churches as pastors are right now, and I go so far as to say it's a movement of God. We need to be wholeheartedly engaged, but also discerning and this is why this book is important.
This will sound a little self-serving, but Transformational Church by Thom Rainer and myself. LifeWay's research turned up many important characteristics common to churches that are seeing real life transformation in real ways. It gives a good framework to do that kind of ministry well and clearly.
Add to that Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. This book challenges the notion that more is better, especially when discipleship is concerned. They suggest four imperatives in disciplemaking: Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus. Yep, it's that simple.
A book from a few years back is The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. This was the book that began to explain how border no longer make a difference for working, how the internet was bringing everything and everyone together. The technology revolution is huge. Pastors used to say, "I say it, they hear it and do it." Now, they say it to each other whether the pastor likes it or not, and often online. Blog revolutions in various denominations, social media use in democratic uprisings and individuals posting their frustrations in a chat room are all evidences of the flattened world.
Glocalization, by Bob Roberts, Jr., was an application of The World is Flat premise to the context of world evangelization. Written specifically for churches it is a game changer in thinking of how churches can relate to other cultures, taking advantage of the flat world. This is a great book to buy for the missions committee or team to help expand their thinking on ways to interact with unreached peoples.
Two business-oriented books I would recommend are The Thank You Economy (Gary Vaynerchuk), which proposes ways that organizations should engage customers via social media. This is one we've been reading around LifeWay recently. Far from being a simple marketing book, it talks about the need to deepen relationships with customer by using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and the like. Lots of application for business owners and some for thoughtful churches.
By popular business speaker, Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, may be the most important team oriented book of the last decade. Using his well known style of leadership fables, he explains how to get the most from every team member in every meeting so as to avoid "They then adjourned the meeting, whereupon everyone went to the parking lot, lit a cigarette and said what they really were thinking" syndrome. This book will help every church's committee/team structure be better. Not to mention pastoral staff.
Among blogs that I read, again in no particular order, are Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed. This is an especially good blog if you are a centrist evangelical. He's been at it a while and is bringing some good theological content forward.
I read the Gospel Coalition aggregated blog where a lot of content from Reformed writers is produced. You can find writings from Tullian Tchividjian, Don Carson, Ray Ortlund and others there.
David Fitch's Reclaiming the Mission blog is really challenging in getting us to refocus the whole of evangelicalism. He's an Anabaptist so his blog is sort of deconstructive and reconstructive at the same time.
Of course there are many, many more, but these are a few. Among all the quality books available, the most important thing is not so much what you read, but that you read. Ecclesiastes 10:10 reminds us, "If the ax is dull, And one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success" (KJV).
The reading of good books sharpens us, and that wisdom brings success.
Any books and blogs you might suggest?