I love books and am always looking for books for myself as well as my wife and kids. One of the books that has caught my eye over the years is the The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. They are fantastic full of practical helps, historical facts and fun games and activities. They are heaps of fun to pick up and read wherever as each chapter is self contained and you can read them in any order you want. It’s a brilliant concept and a fun read. The one thing you notice for a book that teaches kids the nostalgic arts of marbles and tea time, is the almost total absence of religion.
Recently I stumbled on a book called The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith. Something I am always looking for as a Pastor of Families and as a father is resources to help disciple kids. This book is laid out similar to the Dangerous and Daring books for kids. How it is different is its focus is around theology, church history, practical how-to’s and fun things to-do.
One of the things that concerns me for my own kids and for the kids I pastor is overwhelming influences in their lives that teach them good but not ultimate things. I am concerned about what my kids are being discipled into. I am not so sure that one hour a week is enough for kids to gain their footing in the truths of the world or see the beauty of the gospel. We need more resources that are practically useful and theologically deep. Not an easy combo by any stretch but one Champ Thornton accomplishes in his Radical Book for Kids. He does an excellent job of making complex ideas accessible.
For those of you who are looking for presents for next Christmas or want to spend the Amazon gift cards, you got for Christmas here are the ten best books I read in 2016 and why you should read them too.
- Confessions – St. Augustine
Confessions is a Christian Classic and rightfully so. What is so profound about the book is that it is an autobiography from a giant of the Christian faith written in the form of a prayer. It is the story of a restless soul because of disordered love. How a restless heart found it’s home in Christ. Beautiful, timeless and life-giving. A must read at some point in every Christian journey.
- The Call to Joy and Pain. – Ajith Fernando
This book was a book that came into our home at the perfect time. Every year we as a church family read four books together that tie into our pastor’s messages for the year. This was one of those books. It was not just a book that my wife and I read out of obligation to our church community it was profoundly helpful as we walked through the joy and pains of cancer. It is by far one of the best books I have read on the topic of suffering in the Christian life and the pastoral vocation.
- The Rule of Love – JV Fesko
The Rule of Love is a deceivingly small book. I read this in preparation for writing our VBS curriculum which was centered around the Ten Commandments. Fesko brings the Decalog to life in such a way that you are convicted afresh by each command. You see each command in ways you have never seen them before. JV doesn’t just leave you there wounded and bleeding he follows each command with the all-surpassing beauty of Christ that moved me to worship time and time again.
- You Are What You Love – James K. A. Smith
Many books have recently been written about worldview. These books are valuable, and I thank God that they have been written because their value in a post-Christian America should only increase. What Dr. Smith has done in his Book You Are What You Love is complete the picture that the worldview arguments begin. So many worldview books are written from a rationalistic point of view. Smith writes this book to say our worldview matters but what matters most is what do you love. He says we are first and foremost lovers. And he is right. For all you Family Pastor’s out there he has a couple of chapters on teaching kids and raising kids that are killer. Such a great book.
- The Psalms of Jesus – Tim Keller
I am not sure that I have read a better devotional in my life. Keller’s devotional on the Psalms came at the perfect time as my wife, and I walked through this devotional daily as we faced the task of walking through cancer treatment a day at a time. I found David and Keller the perfect companions for a journey that had good days and awful days but in both days a never changing sovereign God who never let go.
- Christianity and Liberalism – J Gresham Machen
This book was written in 1923 and read like it was written in 2015. The Liberalism that invaded the Mainlines in the early twentieth century has invaded much of evangelicalism as a whole in the twenty-first century. Machen’s diagnosis is powerful and more relevant that you could imagine. It serves as encouragement and warning to the church today.
- The Pastor: A Memoir – Eugene Peterson
This is a book I will read again. It is the Autobiography of Eugene Peterson the pastor and author of The Message translation of the Bible. It was not at all what I was expecting in all the best ways you could imagine. His approach to the scriptures, church, and to life, in general, was mystical yet theologically grounded in the scriptures. Out of all the books, I read this year this one challenged more presuppositions and spoke to me in a language I needed to hear from a pastor I have come to respect because he just wants to be just a pastor in a world that is telling pastors they need to be relevant, famous and efficient.
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
I read this book because of the considerable hype by everyone online. It did not disappoint. It was a beautifully written historical novel set in World War II. I was a story of sacrificial love and hope that was well worth every moment.
- Reclaiming Conversation – Sherry Turkle
As a parent, this may be one of the more important books you can read. It is all about how do we reclaim conversation in a world that is increasingly nonverbal and overly electronic. Technology is not going away, and we need to be better at understanding and to leverage it in raising our digitally native kids so that technology enhances their world rather than destroying it.
- Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis has a way of making extremely complicated truth understandable. His down to earth orthodoxy makes him so unique that his books even though they are half a century old they are completely relevant and not difficult to read. If you can only read one book by Lewis, I would say it should be this one. Mere Christianity is the cornerstone of Lewis’ view of the Christian faith and life in general. For those who are new to the Christian faith, it is formative for those who have been a Christian for a while it provides much-needed language in which to communicate your faith to others.
This year was a change for me I started graduate school a little over a year ago, and the books I want to read are now waiting for me because of books I have to read are taking precedence. I have learned a couple of things about reading this year.
1.Reading books above what you typically read or are comfortable reading push you to read more efficiently and read more widely. There are books I would never have read this year if it were not for that.
In 2014 it was estimated that there are over 8,000 multi-site churches in America. In the past 2 years, I am certain that number has grown. The reality is Multi-site churches are not going away anytime soon. There are many challenges to doing Family ministry in a multi-campus setting, from staffing to leadership development to volunteer management. One of the greatest challenges I’ve found is in logistics. How do you make things work at campuses in different locations, of different sizes with different needs.
One of those challenges we have always struggled with is how do we show videos at various locations? Most curriculums now offer video teaching or video elements to their curriculum. Distribution to the various locations is difficult. We’ve done most everything from burning DVD to sending custom made jump drives. Those all took lots of time and had lots of room for error. This lead us to our current system.