Well we are coming to the end of 2020, which I am sure we are all sighing with relief. But it also means that I get to post the best books I read this year. It has been a much better year of reading for me than last year. Lot’s of great books, but the main focus was on leadership and how to be a better assistant minister, see the section on leadership.
Book of the Year
Thinking Through Creation by Christopher Watkin.
This was a book I actually started last year but ended up reading it twice it was so good. Watkin takes us through the first few chapters of Genesis and shows how the ideas we have there are essential for living life today. He is thoughtful, readable and very well researched and read, cutting through the red herrings and getting to important issues that we need to miss because of the distractions. I have recommended this book to several people, no-one has come back to me and said this is not worth reading. Please read!!
Leadership Strategy and Tactics by Jocko Willlink.
As I mentioned in my introduction, I worked on reading through books that would help me be a better follower (Assistant Minister) rather than leader. There were a number of Christian books in this area: Leading Up by Maywood, How to Lead when You are not in Charge by Scroggins (re-read), and How to Lead when your Boss Doesn’t by Maxwell (awkward title to have on your desk when the boss walks past!). These were OK, but seemed to be saying very similar things.
But the most helpful books were by Jocko Willink, whom I stumbled upon by accident. He is ex-navy SEAL and commander (the guy makes people in the military look soft). He doesn’t muck around, but most of the ideas he has about things like the importance of relationship, humility and responsibility could come from the mouth of Jesus. Leadership Strategy and Tactics should be essential reading, Extreme Ownership is also incredibly helpful.
Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching by Various
This was the only book I got to read on preaching this year. A series of excellent essays on the importance of preaching in the ministry. I would have recommended it even if there were other books read. Great contributions by Sproul, Sproul Jnr, Piper, Mohler and others.
Made Man by Craig Hamilton.
I really wasn’t expecting this book to be as good as it was (sorry Craig!). A great book on the doctrine of the incarnation which doesn’t seem to get the attention that it deserves. It was readable, explaining complex ideas easily – I loved that the heresy of docetism is described as vegan meat . It covers both the Biblical data as well as the early church Christological controversies.
Talking to Strangers by Graham Gladwell explaining why we shouldn’t trust strangers, but do anyway and was probably the best non-Christian non-fiction book I read that wasn’t by Willink this year. Reformed Anglicanism is a series of essays on why Anglicanism should be evangelical in nature, including a great chapter on the history of Anglicanism. Dominion by Holland was recommended to me as a history of the world through the lens of Christianity. It was readable and well researched, but I felt Holland actually missed the centre of the Christian message: the cross is what saves us.
Strong Songs Kirk Hamilton.
Last year I started a new, non-book category. This is podcasts. Strong Songs is a podcast where Kirk Hamilton dissects a song over the course of 30-45 minutes. It’s not Christian, he chooses a wide variety of songs from pop, jazz and even musical items. But what he is actually teaching you is how to exegete and analyse, to listen carefully. He happens to be doing it through song, but the same principles could be applied to the Bible. And well… his enthusiasm is just infectious.