My Favorite Books of 2012

This past year I set out to read more (needed a deeper well), and by God’s grace, I did so. So far, I’ve read 29 books this year and will hopefully finish two more before the ball drops in a few weeks. Here were my favorites this year. They weren’t all published in 2012, but were books I read in 2012.

Book that most re-inspired a needed vision for ministry… The Master’s Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman


This book is poorly titled–it’s more about disciple-making (which was Jesus’ plan for world evangelization), but it remains a ministry classic. It helped me see that there’s no getting around the need for Christians to invest their lives in others who will invest in others. This was not a new lesson, but one that reminded me of the nuts and bolts of what ministry is about.

Book that made me rethink my commonly held assumptions… Drive by Daniel Pink

DriveI used to think that motivation came mostly from external reward. This book made me re-think all of it. It was a thought-provoking book as it relates to personal change and leading an organization. Also parenting–one of the most helpful lessons: praise your kids for their effort and they’ll keep trying even when it’s difficult. Praise them for their success and they’ll quit when things get tough.

Book that had gobs of practical church leadership wisdom… Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley

deep and wide andy stanleyI have long admired Andy Stanley’s integrity filled and common-sense approach to ministry and leadership. He synthesizes his approach to ministry in this book and provides some fascinating insight into the experiences that shaped it. Some parts were surprisingly theological, while others were wonderfully practical. Read my lessons from it here.

Book that inspired in me a greater desire to walk closely with Jesus… The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

12.deyoungI have so appreciated the resurgence of gospel-centered theology in the church. I love the riches of the grace of the gospel. One of the greatest riches of the gospel is the power given to walk in obedience and holiness. This short book gives a great deal of biblical and practical motivation to walk obediently and enjoy the grace of communion with Christ.

Book that set me on a course to more sustainable ministry… The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz


This book was recommended by a number of people and it did not disappoint. The authors seek to help “corporate athletes,” those of us in professional industries who need to be “on” day-after-day. The subtitle makes their main point: “Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.” I envision myself returning to this book over the years to help me achieve a lasting ministry and sustainable pace.

Book that every organizational leader should buy and read today… The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

the advantage I’ve read a number of Lencioni’s leadership fables and have always found them helpful. This book, however is purely non-fiction and solid leadership gold. It’s been particularly helpful in helping our Redemption Church leadership team work towards greater clarity across our multiple congregations. Most of all, I liked Lencioni’s common-sense approach that isn’t filled with corporate silliness.

Book that is totally disconnected from ministry but was a great read… Bloody Crimes by James Swanson

Bloody CrimesThis book is about the funeral pageant for Abraham Lincoln’s body and the chase to find Jefferson Davis after the Civil War ended. I knew basically nothing about either of these historical events and found them both fascinating. It was a great follow-up to Swanson’s other excellent book, Manhunt.


Other Best Book Lists:

I’m a big fan of these end-of-year lists as they often help me find other great reads. Here are some lists I’ve seen so far:

Kevin DeYoung’s Top 10
Josh Reich’s Top 12
Tony Reinke’s Top 12
Tim Challies’ Top 7
Justin Buzzard’s Favorites
Brian Dodd’s Top 13
Trevin Wax’s Top 10


What did you enjoy reading this past year?

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

One thought on “My Favorite Books of 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: