Christian Book Expo recently published a list of the bestselling Christian books of 2016. There were a few good ones on the list, but on the whole, it was full of books I would not recommend to my church members. What makes a list like this so tragic is that there really are a lot of great books out there, but instead people are bypassing those great resources to buy books that won’t help them as much, and in some cases will actually be detrimental to their spiritual health.
I don’t place all the blame for these bestsellers on the people buying the books, though. Part of the blame rests on pastors and church leaders who need to be helping their members grow in their hunger for good, solid resources, and in their ability to discern between the good and the bad. Part of the blame also rests on the Christian bookstores themselves who promote and display prominently the junk they know will make money rather than the books with good content that might not sell as many copies. The average Christian is probably overwhelmed when they walk into a Christian bookstore and see thousands of books on the rack. How do they know what to buy? If they just randomly buy something off the shelf, there’s a good chance it won’t be worth reading. And we’ve already established that going over to the bestseller rack isn’t going to help.
So, rather than just complain about all of this, I’ve put together a list of ten books that I would encourage my church members to read. None of them are too academic, so you don’t have to have a degree in theology to read and understand them. Also, this is not a top-ten-books-of-all-time list, and they aren’t in any particular order. They’re just ten good Christian books that are actually worth your time. If you are wanting to get your hands on some good books this year that will help you grow, here are ten good ones (with links to buy them on Amazon.com):
- Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis—A true Christian classic. This might be a bit more difficult to read than the other books on this list, but it’s worth it. Great defense of the Christian faith.
- I Am a Church Member, by Thom Rainer—Short, helpful book on what it means to be a faithful church member.
- Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send, by J. D. Greear—The goal of the local church shouldn’t be to grow as large as it can, but to send as many people out to fulfill the Great Commission as it can. J. D. tells us how to become this kind of church.
- The Cross-Centered Life, by C. J. Mahaney—So many Christians go throughout their days and weeks without a thought toward the gospel, or they are trapped in a legalistic mindset of works-based religion. Mahaney shows us how to stay focused on the gospel of God’s grace.
- What Is a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever—Just as Rainer’s book explains the marks of a healthy church member, Dever’s book explains the marks of a healthy church. Every Christian should want to be a part of a healthy local church, but how do we define what that is?
- What Is the Gospel, by Greg Gilbert—It’s been said that if one generation assumes the gospel, the next generation will lose the gospel. Gilbert does a great job of laying out very clearly the contents of the gospel message.
- Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples, by Robby Gallaty—How do we fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples in a 2 Timothy 2:2 kind of way: “What you have heard from me, entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”? Folks at Calvary who have joined a discipleship group in recent months will be familiar with much of what Robby says here.
- God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible, by Vaughan Roberts—If you want to know how the big story of the Bible fits together, you won’t find a more helpful little book than this one.
- Ten Who Changed the World, by Danny Akin—Akin highlights ten missionaries from church history that made a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.
- Family Worship, by Donald Whitney—This book casts a vision for why families should have regular times when they gather together in their home to read the Bible, pray, and sing together. If you’ve wondered how to do family worship, this short book will be a tremendous help.