With the new year, fresh energy and renewed interest in self-discipline and self-improvement always come. January 1 came with the perennial commitments to working out, eating healthy, watching less TV, and reading more. I also woke up to January 1 with a counter full of leftover Christmas cookies, a fridge full of soda, a wintry day begging to be enjoyed from inside with hot chocolate, and a shelf full of new superhero movies begging to be watched from my pajamas. Inertia is a powerful force.
And this blog has been an incredible source of accountability and incentive to write regularly, to read deeply, to continue. The last few months I have focused on my new call as a solo pastor, and have chosen to let this be one of the commitments that goes in order to commit fully to my work as a pastor. The last three months have been incredibly rewarding, and exciting, and challenging, and with this new year’s arrival, I recognize that my blogging has been a source of re-creation for me, a place where I can develop and hone my thinking, share my reading, and continue to grow in the gifts that God has given me. Blogging is an essential part of my rule of life, my program of life-giving spiritual disciplines. So is reading.
So, knowing this is aspirational, I have set the personal goal to read 35 books this year. And in order to continue learning what I need to know for ministry, I picked out books in a few major categories: worship & preaching, mission, leadership, Reformed faith and practice, and personal devotions.
- Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology, by Gordon W. Lathrop
- A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony, by Leanne Van Dyk
- Leading through the Water, by Paul Galbreath
- Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, by Ron & Debra Rienstra
- Worship, its Theology and Practice, by Jean-Jacques von Allmen
- Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace, by James B. Torrance
- Preaching, by Fred B. Craddock
- The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture, by J. Todd Billings
- The Preaching Life, by Barbara Brown Taylor
- The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God, by Dallas Willard
- That the World May Believe, by Hans Kung
- Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission, by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis
- The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit, by Craig Van Gelder
- The Missional Journey, by Robert E. Logan
- How God Became King: the Forgotten Story of the Gospels, by N. T. Wright
- The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World, by Ronald A. Heifetz, et al.
- Kingdom, Office, and Church: A Study of A. A. van Ruler’s Doctrine of Ecclesiastical Office, by Allan J. Janssen
- The Compassionate Congregation: A Handbook for People Who Care, by Karen Mulder and Ginger Jurries
- Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups, by Ruth Haley Barton
- Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family, by Ronald Richardson
- Leadership from Inside Out: Spirituality and Organizational Change, by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
Reformed Faith and Practice
- Body & Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism, by M. Craig Barnes
- The Faith of the Church:A Reformed Perspective on Its Historical Development, by M. E. Osterhaven
- Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us, by Christine D. Pohl
- Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend:Managing Time in a Global Culture, by Edward O’Flaherty, et al.
- The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter
- Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality, by Belden C. Lane
- Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through Through the Year
- The Pastor: A Spirituality, by Gordon W. Lathrop
- New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton
- Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, by C. S. Lewis
- Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard
Last year I set out – ambitiously – to read 45 books, and I managed it: partially because I was finishing up seminary, and reading was a great deal of my workload, and partially because I discovered the public library’s comic book shelf, and those apparently count as books now. I reined the goal back for this year, and I recognize that 35 is still an ambitious goal, but my hope is that aiming high means I strive high. And posting this here is my way of giving myself accountability.
I will most likely quote and comment on what I’m reading here, hopefully fairly regularly, so stay tuned. Thanks! and Happy New Year!