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
I 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
I 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
I 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
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
This 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:
What did you enjoy reading this past year?