The Best of 2012: Books

centerchurchI read a lot of great books last year, and here are my favorites:

1. Center Church: Doing Balanced,Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller

This is easily the most important book on the practicalities of church ministry I have ever read. Keller gives us a model for doing ministry that is neither so rooted in his own context as to be non-trasferable, and yet not so generic as to be utterly useless. It is rooted in a good theology, good theory, and good practice. It makes no difference the type of church you have or the context you find yourself in, this book is for all pastors!

2. The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness by Kevin DeYoung

DeYoung’s book is so refreshing and so important for my generation and my church. The book essentially targets the overreaction to the legalism of Fundamentalism. He highlights the ways in which we downplay the importance of holiness in the church today, gives us both devotional and theological reasons for pursuing it and some context for understanding grace, failure, world-changing, and discipline. This is the book all young Christians need to read.

3. A Little Book for New Theologians by Kelly Kapic

I wish I had read this book years ago, if it had existed. Kapic’s useful discussion of how to do theology is not what you’d expect. It’s not about hermeneutics and methodology so much as it is about posture, character, and approach. He talks about the essentials of doing good theology that so often get overlooked, like: humility, prayer, repentance, faithful reason, and love of Scripture. It’s such a great book that I plan to use it in my prolegomena courses for Free Seminary.

4. Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, An Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke

This isn’t just a great story written in an engaging manner, it’s a wonderful, beautiful, and gritty picture of the organic and difficult nature of real discipleship. Too many discipleship books read like their a straightforward simple formula, and if you’ve ever done any discipling you know that such a presentation is ludicrous. Kluck and Jahncke tell their story, their friendship, and give us both a healthier and more realistic look at the process.

5. Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat

This is a thorough treatment of the wanning influence of the Christian faith in American culture. Douthat puts the blame ultimately not on the religious extremists nor the anti-religious haters, but rather on the Pseudo-Christianity that dominates the landscape. This is a sociological study worth reading, and particularly for any Christians engaged in church leadership today! Douthat is insightful, witty, and thorough. He leaves no stone unturned, and even if he occassionaly gives a bad interpretation of the data, his work will certainly be regarded as one of the most comprehensive treatements of American Evangelicalism in the modern era.

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