If you’re thinking, “I got some down time this summer, I should read, but I don’t know what.” Here are the 10 books on my summer reading list.
Church Membership: by Jonathan Leeman
I read this book four years ago as a church plant resident. It was good then but frankly, I didn’t get much out of it because it was “required reading.” In this season of life I’ve found myself in a place wrestling with my own ecclesiological (what is the church, what are Biblical roles in the church) convictions, this little book has suddenly become quite relevant.
In Church Membership Jonathan Leeman wrestles with questions like, “is church membership the equivalent of joining a club or service provider?” Or is the church more like an embassy our outpost of a kingdom not of this world? If an embassy than it is meant to protect its home nations (God’s Kingdom) interest as well as the citizens of that nation as they live in a host nation. What does that look like practically?
Church Discipline: Jonathan Leeman
At the end of Church Membership Jonathan Leeman recommends readers to continue the conversation by reading his follow up book on church discipline. Church membership according to Leeman is a churches affirmation of a an individuals faith through gospel profession and baptism. The church also promises to provide oversight to the individuals discipleship, which includes church discipline. In response to the church the individual formally submits their discipleship to the authority of this body and its leaders.
Church discipline becomes key in the church providing oversight, as well as the individual Christians walking in submission and faithfulness to the leadership God has placed over them. Church Discipline is a deep dive in the role discipline plays in the local church, both for the good of the believer and unbelievers.
Church Elders: Jeramie Rinne
In the same vein as Church Membership and Church Discipline this book on church elders is meant to help Christians wrestle with and clarify what is the nature and function of the Church, specifically regarding who leads the church.
In Church Elders the author wrestles with the question, “who leads the church?” Is the term “Elder” or “Bishop” in the New Testament exclusive to only paid pastors? What qualifies someone as an elder? Biblically, what responsibilities does an elder have?
9 Marks of a Healthy Church: Mark Dever
I’ve come to really respect and appreciate Pastor Mark Dever in the last 3-4 years. He’s been the Senior Pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. for the last few decades. In 9 Marks of a Healthy Church Mark shares the 9 non-negotiables for a healthy church. This book has made such an incredible impact on the wider church an entire “9 Marks” ministry has spun off from CHBC as a way to resource and equip local churches.
Deliberate Church: Mark Dever and Paul Alexander
In Deliberate Church Mark Dever and Paul Alexander get into the nuts and bolts of implementing the “9 marks of a healthy church.” I figured if I’m going to read Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church it would be wise to read how exactly this gets implemented in the local church.
Mestizo Augustine: Justo Gonzalez
Justo Gonzalez is a Cuban American, a Theologian, and Church Historian. Within evangelical circles he’s primarily known for his two volume set on Church History. A few months ago I read his book Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective and it is one of my top 3 books of 2018.
In Mestizo Augustine Justo Gonzalez takes a look at the life of Augustine of Hippo to examine how he experienced Christianity from a mixed background. Especially as the church continues to become more diverse this book helps see Christianity through a culturally diverse lens.
A Theology as Big as the City: Ray Bakke
I actually don’t know much about Ray Bakke but every time I have a conversation about understanding a theology of the city his name comes up. I’ve always had a heart and desire to see the church have a holistic presence in cities, specifically in the non-gentrified inner cities. Now that I am working for a non-profit literally named, “For the City Network” I want to ensure I personally have a robust understanding of God’s heart for cities. Along with this book I would also recommend Tim Keller’s Center Church and Stephn Um’s Why Cities Matter.
Exclusion and Embrace: Miroslav Volf
This book was a late addition to my reading list. Recently, a new pastor at my church spoke to my staff team about growing up in apartheid South Africa. In his conclusion he mentioned this book by Miroslav Volf as a way to understand how the church can actually pursue reconciliation across ethnicities and class.
Furthermore, my wife finished reading Tim Kellers Making Sense of God a few weeks ago. As we discussed some of her key takeaways from the book she kept mentioning Keller quoting a book from, “some guy named Miroslav Volf.” When I asked her to look up the title in the footnotes, sure enough, it was Exclusion and Embrace. What I’m most excited about with this book is that my wife and I plan on reading through it together. Family book club!
Faith & Foster Care: John DeGarmo
Part of my job is to oversee a foster care ministry… The only problem is neither Bible college or seminary taught me anything about foster care. A key part of my job come August will be to help three campuses at my church engage in foster care.
My main goal in reading this book is to get to at least a novice level of understanding on how Christians should see living out their faith in the area of foster care. Furthermore, my hope is to begin to unpack how orphan care and foster care are heavily intertwined, but not exactly the same issue.
Orphan Justice: Johnny Carr
Continuing the thought of my last paragraph above Orphan Justice is a book that focuses on broadening the scope of what it means to biblically love orphans. At least in the Western church orphan care and adoption have virtually become interchangeable terms. The question I have been wrestling with is, “Does the Bible see orphan care and adoption the same way as the church?” If not, what pieces of God’s heart in caring for the orphan is the church I serve lacking?