Books That Shape My Pastoral Vision

There are several books that I have read over the last few years that have been a great blessing to me and really help to open my eyes to the complexities of our modern-day culture and the wondrous necessity of living and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am certain that I will update this list as well.

  1. The Bible (God). Duh, shock, LOL. But I am more convinced that the Gospels are the richest resource we have for getting a peak at how Jesus, the Incarnate One, impacted the lives of everyday people. And think: he did this without holding one leadership conference.
  2. The Upside-Down Church (Greg Laurie). This book is my personal favorite when it comes to discussing how the Church should be the Church. He uses Acts as the foundation of his book and while biblical scholars and historians debate whether Acts should be viewed as a historical document or a “how to do ministry�? record, Laurie captures the adventurous journey of the early Church as these men and women submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit to turn the world upside down for Jesus. No gimmicks, no charts, no special offers for video material.
  3. Courageous Leadership (Bill Hybels). Hybels shares my passion for the local church and building being used by God to build it from the ground up. The book is a practical, inside look at the good and bad things Hybels did that help create Willowcreek Church.
  4. Rethinking the Successful Church: Finding Serenity in God’s Sovereignty (Samuel Rima). This General Baptist leader tells it like it is. I read this book during my second year of seminary and felt the Holy Spirit literally stamping out just about every desire I had for a “successful�? ministry. Rima bears his soul, revealing the struggles he had early in his ministry with the success trap and how God broke him. I believe that church leaders, especially those who are in training, should read this book.
  5. Women Leaders and the Church: 3 Crucial Questions (3 Crucial Questions) (Linda L. Belleville). Let’s face it: the controversy over the issue of women in church leadership will never be silenced on this side of eternity. But as a woman, I appreciated reading a scholarly study that supports such women without sacrificing a high view of Scripture. I know that Piper and Grudem won’t buy her arguments but it’s nice to know that there are scholars, particularly evangelical women scholars who will not back down from their position.
  6. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit (Jack Deere). This former Dallas Theological Seminary shared his personal testimony of his journey from the stale cessationism taught in the halls of a lot of conservative evangelical scholarship to a serious adventure with God as he learned that (shock!) the Holy Spirit is alive and well. Most valuable to me is the appendix, which is replete with a series of refutations of criticism from such venerated pastors/teachers like Dr. John Macarthur.
  7. The Younger Evangelicals (Robert Webber). This book just might be my favorite book about what is going on in the body of Christ from a generational perspective. Without really getting into the emerging church argument specifically, Webber lays out how three main groups—the moderns, the pragmatics, and the younger evangelicals approach what it means to be the Church and how we deal with a host of issues surrounding the mystical body of Christ. This book made everything “click�? for me, confirming some of the ideological shifts I had sense among fellow Christ-followers of my own generation.
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