Although I have been out of any formal education for a couple of years, I plan on always learning as a father, pastor, leader, and missionary. Typically I read 2-3 books at a time as I have a never ending list of books that I want to read, books publishers give me to read and review, and ones on topics of interests. This has led to me being more discerning in the books that I read as I realize I will never read them all, but here are the top 5 Christian books I read this past year (not necessarily written in 2015).
1. The Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary) by Scot McKnight
Emphasizing the historical distance between the New Testament and our contemporary culture, The Sermon on the Mount by Scot McKnight, part of the new The Story of God Bible Commentary series, offers helpful contextual insights for those seeking to discern how to live out the Bible in today’s world.
2. A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table by Tim Chester
Chester argues that meals are also deeply theological—an important part of Christian fellowship and mission. He observes that the book of Luke is full of stories of Jesus at meals. These accounts lay out biblical principles. Chester notes, “The meals of Jesus represent something bigger.” Six chapters in A Meal with Jesus show how they enact grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise.
3. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller
Most Christians—including pastors—struggle to talk about their faith in a way that applies the power of the Christian gospel to change people’s lives. Timothy Keller is known for his insightful, down-to-earth sermons and talks that help people understand themselves, encounter Jesus, and apply the Bible to their lives. In this accessible guide for pastors and laypeople alike, Keller helps readers learn to present the Christian message of grace in a more engaging, passionate, and compassionate way.
4. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore
As the culture changes all around us, it is no longer possible to pretend that we are a Moral Majority. That may be bad news for America, but it can be good news for the church. What's needed now, in shifting times, is neither a doubling-down on the status quo nor a pullback into isolation. Instead, we need a church that speaks to social and political issues with a bigger vision in mind: that of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christianity seems increasingly strange, and even subversive, to our culture, we have the opportunity to reclaim the freakishness of the gospel, which is what gives it its power in the first place.
5. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.