Ten Book Recommendations for Pastor Appreciation 2018

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Every year I compile  a list of book recommendations for Pastor’s appreciation month. They would benefit any pastor who receives them as gifts next month. If you’re a pastor and get a gift card consider one of these titles. For last year’s list go here.

  1. Susie by Ray Rhodes (reviewed here).
  2. 12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson (reviewed here).
  3. High King of Heaven edited by John Macarthur (reviewed here).
  4. Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey (reviewed here).
  5. Preaching by the Book by R. Scott Pace (reviewed here).
  6. Preaching as Reminding by Jeffrey Arthurs (reviewed here).
  7. Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis (reviewed here).
  8. Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer (reviewed here).
  9. Some Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson.
  10. The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen

 

 

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Passion in the Pulpit: A Review

Passion in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley

Those who have studied preaching in seminary, and even some who have not, may be familiar with the concept that logos,ethos, and pathos are the essential parts of preaching. Much attention is given to logos, the content of epreaching, and attention is given to ethos, the character of the preacher, but pathos, the persuasive nature of preaching is often neglected or even ridiculed. This title helps serve as a corrective to that neglect and disdain.

In this book author Adam Dooley provides an exploration of each topic in the various chapters with Jerry Vines providing illustration of how the principles at hand are applied in the pulpit. One chapter that particularly stood out to me was the second chapter, which serves as a warning against personality driven preaching. I do have to disagree with what was said in chapter 4 when it states, “Though the Law is not binding as a moral standard for believers, it remains a relevant hermeneutical  key that helps us understand God and ourselves better (68).” Overall though this book is a helpful resource giving practical tips on how to be a better and more convincing preacher, pointing to the importance of heart felt preaching in persuading others of the truth of the Word.

I would commend this book as a valuable resource for any preacher. It offers practical insight and application in an area of preaching that is often ignored by preachers and writers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

12 Faithful Men: A Review

12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson

Pastors can never have too much encouragement in the trenches of pastoral ministry. Encouragement is exactly what the contributors to this volume have provided for pastors.

Twelve contributors explore the example of twelve godly pastors who suffered disappointment and suffering in different ways in the midst of pastoral ministry and remained faithful to the end. Men who are faithful to the end are needed role models for those of us in ministry today as a great number seem to be disqualifying themselves early on through infidelity in the church or in the home. Most of those looked at in this volume are familiar names whose life stories many pastors are familiar with. Three individuals who were unknown to me were John Chavis African-American pastor who faced great difficulty due to 19th century racism, Ugandan martyr Jana Luwum, and Chinese pastor Wang Ming-Dao who suffered under communist oppression.

Christian biography, especially biography of faithful ministers, is a great encouragement for those in pastoral ministry. I would commend this book to pastors and ministry leaders as it is a great source of encouragement.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Power of Vision 3rd edition: A Review

The Power of Vision by George Barna

In this latest edition of The Power of Vision Barna explores the continued importance of church leaders having God’s vision for their church. Barna’s working defintion for what vision is is “a clear mental image of preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants to advance His kingdom and is based on an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.”

In thirteen chapters Barna explores the meaning of vision, the importance of vision, and the impact of vision for ministry in the local church. I do think Barna gets his components of capturing God’s vision wrong in his sixth chapter he begins with self knowledge moves to contextual knowledge and ends with knowing God. You can’t rightly know yourself unless you know God, you can’t rightly understand the context you are in apart from knowing God. I believe that knowledge of God is foundational for every aspect of the Christian life. He helpfully points to the importance of prayer but should have addressed prayer before knowledge of self and context.

I have a bit of apprehensiveness in regards to book like this as they place a great deal of emphasis on something the New Testament in silent on. Paul doesn’t encourage Timothy and Titus to be visionary leaders, he encourages to be faithful leaders. Barna presents vision as this almost gnostic secret knowledge that God only provides to a select few, whereas in the New Testament we do have God’s vision for the church a community of disciples making disciples walking in holiness.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Embodied Hope: A Review

Embodied Hope by Kelly M. Kapic

The best books to read on suffering are those written by those who are personally acquainted with it. Author and professor Kelly Kapic writes not as one detached from suffering, but as a fellow-sufferer and the husband of one deeply acquainted with pain and suffering.

In eleven chapters Kapic provides pastoral and theological wisdom in regard to pain in suffering. In the early chapters of the book Kapic addresses how pain and suffering often tempt us to think ill of God and the need to be reoriented to God and the place of lament and questions in pain in suffering. In the second of section Kapic points readers to the cross and the significance there is in Christ’s identification with us for the pain and suffering we find in this world. In the final section Kapic addresses the importance of community for suffering saints, also noting how in  suffering there is a temptation to isolate oneself from community for fear of how others will react.

Of all the subjects one could read about it might be asked why anyone should want to read a book on pain and suffering. Kapic speaks to certainties of life in addressing pain and suffering. If you are a Christian you will suffer in some way, it is part of being a follower of Christ sharing in His sufferings. Not only that those you love and know will suffer. If you are in ministry everyone you minister is suffering or will suffer. Kapic’s book is a valuable resource that points faithfully to the bedrock foundation we have in hope even and especially in the midst of suffering.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Becoming a Welcoming Church : A Review

Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer

This latest title by Thom Rainer addresses the importance of the church being a welcoming place for new guests. What stands out is that as true in many areas of life common sense is not that common. Rainer draws from his experience in consulting churches to provide basic guidelines in regards to becoming a welcoming church. If you’ve followed Rainer’s blog over the year there really isn’t anything new or unheard of in this book but it is still a useful resource nonetheless.

In six chapters Rainer walks the reader from self-examination regarding whether the local church is as welcoming as we think it is, to seeing how outsiders experience church, to practical steps that help in being a truly welcoming church. What Rainer points to isn’t a seeker-sensitive understanding of the church, he’s pointing readers to simple things like clear communication and cleanliness.

As I said if you’ve followed Rainer for any amount of time you’ve probably seen much of this information in some form on his blog. While my church does practice most of the things he points to as being important for a welcoming church this book has given me some things to think about. This is especially true in regards to the meet and greet time, I think it’s too easy to forget what those times are like for someone who is a first time guest and the danger of coming across as disinterested in them or desperate for them to stick around neither of which are good. Over all I think this is a good resource for pastors and for church leaders especially those who might not get on the internet.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Spiritual Leadership: A Review

Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

One can look at any bookstore and see there is no shortage of books on leadership being published every year. J. Oswald Sanders classic which was originally published 50 years ago stands out because of the fact that it is throughly rooted in the Bible. The heart and soul of this book is what the Bible has to say about the character of a leader more than anything else. In a day and age where many churches and religious organizations are looking for natural leaders Sanders work serves as a helpful corrective.

In 22 chapters Sanders explores what the Bible has to say about spiritual leadership from every angle. Sanders from the start focuses on Christ’s requirement that leaders be servers. Sanders says “The real spiritual leader is focused on the service he and she can render to God and other people, not on the residuals and perks of high office or holy title. We must aim to put more into life than we take out (p. 14).” Every aspect of the spiritual life is addressed as it relates to fitness as spiritual leader from prayer to time management on to reading. Sanders also looks to the leaders task of raising up leaders who will be spiritual leader which is sorely needed in our day.

If you’re looking for a book that gets to the heart of what it means to be a true Christian leader get this book. It is the most faithful book on leadership I have come across and in every chapter gets to the heart of what it means to be spiritual leader who honors Christ.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Puritans and Pastoring Episode 3: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine

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In the latest episode of Puritans and Pastoring I look at A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine a work exemplary of Puritan evangelism. Alleine like many of the luminaries of the Christian church passed away at an extremely early age dying at the age of 34, though dead his work still speaks today.

 

Building the Body: A Review

Building the Body by Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson

This book had  a lot of potential but falls short because of wrong prioritization in the church. The authors intended goal is to guide churches to greater levels of fitness as a church body.

The first section addresses the evangelistic fitness of the church. The second, member engagement  in the ministry of the church. The third, the worship and leadership of the church. The fourth section focuses on love, church systems, and prayer. With the final section giving practical ways to measure progress in the different areas addressed.

I would argue that chapters 10 and 12 should have been placed up front and that they should have been prioritized as a greater marker of the fitness of a church than flexibility.  In fact these two loving community are not just markers of fitness but they are markers of whether a church is indeed a biblical church. If a church is not a loving community it is not in any sense healthy or a biblical church. If a church lacks divine empowerment it may be many things but it is not a healthy church, if it is a church at all. This book would have been much better if it had not placed numbers as the greatest metric of a church’s fitness level.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.