Network: Europe

There was a multitude of books available in 2022 for people seeking encouragement, advice or personal development and you are guaranteed to find a book that speaks to your heart amongst classics and current bestsellers. For a wider perspective though, how about the books our Acts 29 Europe pastors read? In this blog we’ll explore the books that helped shape their minds, encouraged their hearts and developed their ministries. So, let’s take a look at the books our pastors read in 2022!

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, by Tim Keller

“Can’t anyone teach me how to pray?” Millions of people today are asking the same question. There is a sense of the necessity of prayer – we have to pray. But how?’

Prayer is central to Christian faith; indeed, as Timothy Keller notes in his introduction, it is the main way we experience deep change. Yet so many people struggle with prayer – a struggle that the author himself has shared. This wise and inspiring book is the fruit of those struggles, offering a real and glorious vision of what it can mean to seek God in prayer.

Keller begins by giving a theological underpinning of what prayer actually is – both conversation and encounter with a personal God – before describing how we can learn to pray, and then deepen that prayer. Finally he gives detailed, practical suggestions on how to make prayer a part of the reality of daily life.

Called to Be Saints: An Invitation to Christian Maturity, by Gordon T. Smith

Evangelicals are known for their emphasis on conversion. But what about life after conversion and beyond justification?

Desperately needed is a comprehensive theology of the Christian life from beginning to end, along with the means of formation and transformation. In Called to Be Saints, Gordon Smith draws on a distinguished lifetime of reflecting on these themes to offer us a theologically rich account of our participation in the life of Christ.

Both profound and practical, this book is a trinitarian theology of holiness that encompasses both justification and sanctification, both union with Christ and communion with God. Smith unfolds how and why Christians are called to become wise people, do good work, love others and enjoy rightly ordered affections.

If holiness is the ongoing journey of becoming mature in Christ, then there is no better guide than Smith. Christians in every walk of life will find this a rich resource for learning what it means to “grow up in every way . . . into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Elders: Developing Elders & Revitalizing Teams: Developing elders and revitalizing teams, by PJ Smyth

In Elders, PJ shares how to build healthy, happy and effective eldership teams that get the best out of the leader and the team. This book is ideal for training potential elders and revitalising existing teams of elders.

PJ has been developing elders for many years. He has planted and led churches in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the USA, and leads the Advance Movement of churches. He is the author of Crossing the Line of Faith, Through the waters of Baptism and How the Gospel Moves from Friend to Friend. He lives in the greater Washington D.C. area with his wife Ashleigh, and three sons.

“This is the best book on eldership I have ever read.” Andrew Wilson, Author of Spirit and Sacrament.

“Theologically rigorous. Eminently practical. Incisive and persuasive.” Sam Storms, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma.

“A book built on scripture and honed in the trenches of real-life ministry.” Larry Osborne, Author of Sticky Church.

“This is one of the best books I’ve read on eldership in the local church.” Josh Kouri, Frontline Church, Oklahoma.

The Gospel for Disordered Lives by Kristin L. Kellen, Rob Green, and Robert D. Jones

The gospel of Jesus Christ—the heartbeat of the Bible—brings life-changing hope and power to real people with real problems. Inspired by that conviction, The Gospel for Disordered Lives provides an introductory guide to the theory and practice of Christ-centred biblical counselling. Intended to serve as a foundational textbook for students in Christian colleges, universities, seminaries, and graduate schools, the book also provides a useful overview that working counselors can reference in their ministry contexts. Additionally, it can serve pastors and current counselling practitioners as a helpful refresher and a resource for common counselling problems.

Lies We Are Told, the Truth We Must Hold, by Sharon James

We are surrounded by lies. They are incorporated into the worldview of our culture. We daily absorb them, and these lies can have deadly effects on individuals, societies and whole civilisations.

Sharon James investigates the origins of some of these lies and looks at how we have got to the point where ‘my truth’ is as valid as ‘your truth’, and absolute truth is an outdated way of thinking. In examining the evidence of history, she highlights the consequences of applying dangerous untruths. She also looks at how Christians often respond to the culture’s lies – in silence, acquiescence or celebration of them – and why these responses can be as harmful as the lies themselves.

In the second part she turns to the truth which leads to real liberation and justice. She shows why we don’t need to be ashamed of Christ, or intimidated by the claims of those who are militantly opposed to the Bible.

This book aims to equip Christians to navigate the minefield of current claims. To understand our inherent human significance, to know genuine freedom, and to work for real justice, we need to know the truth.

God’s Unfaithful Wife: A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Adultery, by Ray Ortlund

The biblical theme of spiritual adultery stands in all its bluntness for a deeply offensive sin – the unfaithfulness of God’s covenant people in departing from Yahweh, their husband, and going after false gods.

Dr Ortlund begins by showing how the Genesis version of human marriage provides the logic and coherent network of meanings for the story of Israel’s relationship with Yaweh. He traces the theme of marital unfaithfulness, first through the historical books of the Old Testament and then through the prophets, particularly Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Turning to the New Testament, he shows how the sad story of Israel’s harlotry is transcended by the vision of ultimate reality in Christ and his church, the Bridegroom and the Bride.

This beautifully written book is marked by careful exegesis and deep sensitivity. It is a rare thing – a work of scholarship which calls the reader to love God with an ardour that suffuses all of life.

Faithful Leaders and the Things That Matter Most, by Rico Tice

“Well done good and faithful servant.” Every ministry leader wants to hear these words when they meet their Lord. But what does successful ministry look like?

There are many books on leadership strategies and church structures, but this one looks at what matters most: the character and attitude of church leaders. It recognises that the spiritual health of the church leaders in large part determines the spiritual health of the congregation and therefore the success of the ministry.

In this short, punchy, challenging, and at times surprising book, Rico Tice draws on decades of experience in church leadership to call fellow pastors and others with oversight of areas of church ministry to define success biblically, fight their sin, lead themselves, and serve their churches. It will be a battle, but one worth fighting because personal holiness and godly leadership matter eternally.

A must-read on pastoral leadership for pastors, elders, worship leaders, youth leaders, and anyone else with a leadership role in church ministry.

Authentic Ministry: Serving from the Heart, by Michael Reeves

Authentic Ministry offers practical guidance and spiritual nourishment for all who serve the church. Each of the nine chapters orients readers to the “one thing [that] is necessary” (cf. Luke 10:42)-abiding in Christ-while asking and answering questions both simple and profound: What is prayer? How should I respond to suffering? Who is my friend? What is theology? What does it mean to love?

This short volume originated as a series of talks delivered to various assemblies of students, pastors-in-training, and church leaders in the UK and beyond.

No Little People, by Francis A. Schaeffer

16 Encouraging Sermons on Human Weakness and God’s Sufficiency by Francis Schaeffer

Most Christians take an honest look at themselves and conclude that their limited talents, energy, and knowledge mean that they don’t amount to much. Some even ask, can I really make a difference? Francis A. Schaeffer counters this claim with truth from the Bible, arguing that with God there is no such thing as little people.

No Little People contains sixteen sermons from Schaeffer that explore the weakness and significance of humanity in relationship to the infinite and personal God. The focus of this collection is the lasting truth of the Bible, the faithfulness of God, the sufficiency of the work of Christ, and the power of the Spirit. Readers will be encouraged by the value that God places on each person made in his image to accomplish his redemptive plan.

The Unwavering Pastor – Leading the Church with Grace in Divisive Times, by Jonathan K. Dodson

Leadership is hard. Pastoring through divisive times is even harder. How do we lead well when criticised? How do we keep loving the church when hurt by her? What does it look like to remain committed to the gospel in cultural division?

Seasoned pastor Jonathan Dodson comes alongside struggling pastors and ministry leaders to guide them into the comfort of Christ. But he doesn’t stop there. Full of wisdom drawn from 2 Timothy, this book will equip you to lead the church with grace, charity and spiritual power through divisive times.

Great for pastors and ministry leaders who need encouragement and insight, or are wrestling with their calling. Makes a thoughtful gift.

Jesus, Lover of My Soul – Fresh Pathways in Spiritual Passion, by Julian Hardyman

Delve into the riches of the Song of Songs in this succinct, joyful look at and what it reveals about the dynamic of our relationship with God – a God that the Bible describes as the lover, with us his beloved. New pathways of spiritual intimacy are illuminated by Julian Hardyman’s exploration of this beautiful piece of Scripture, showing us more fully what it is to love Christ and for him to love us. Filled with profound insight and encouragement, this is a powerful call to become more intimate in our relationship with God and experience more of his love in a way that cannot fail to transform our lives. 

The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart, by Harold L. Senkbeil

Pastors care for a soul in the way a doctor cares for a body. In a time when many churches have lost sight of the real purpose of the church, The Care of Souls invites a new generation of pastors to form the godly habits and practical wisdom needed to minister to the hearts and souls of those committed to their care.

Harold Senkbeil helps remind pastors of the essential calling of the ministry: preaching and living out the Word of God while orienting others in the same direction. And he offers practical and fruitful advice—born out of his five decades as a pastor—that will benefit both new pastors and those with years in the pulpit.

Drawing on a lifetime of pastoral experience, The Care of Souls is a beautifully written treasury of proven wisdom which pastors will find themselves turning to again and again.

Managing Leadership Anxiety: Yours and Theirs, by Cuss Steve

Pastor and leadership development expert Steve Cuss explains how personal anxiety and leadership frustration is the result of not being “self-aware” and provides simple tools readers can use to do something about it.

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: A New Guide to Sex in the 21st Century, by Louise Perry

Ditching the stuffy hang-ups and benighted sexual traditionalism of the past is an unambiguously positive thing. The sexual revolution has liberated us to enjoy a heady mixture of erotic freedom and personal autonomy. Right?

Wrong, argues Louise Perry in her provocative new book. Although it would be neither possible nor desirable to turn the clock back to a world of pre-60s sexual mores, she argues that the amoral libertinism and callous disenchantment of liberal feminism and our contemporary hypersexualised culture represent more loss than gain. The main winners from a world of rough sex, hook-up culture and ubiquitous porn – where anything goes and only consent matters – are a tiny minority of high-status men, not the women forced to accommodate the excesses of male lust. While dispensing sage advice to the generations paying the price for these excesses, she makes a passionate case for a new sexual culture built around dignity, virtue and restraint.

This counter-cultural polemic from one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary feminism should be read by all men and women uneasy about the mindless orthodoxies of our ultra-liberal era.

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, by Carl R. Trueman

Since the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015, sexual identity has dominated both public discourse and cultural trends—and yet, no historical phenomenon is its own cause. From Augustine to Marx, various views and perspectives have contributed to the modern understanding of self. In The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman carefully analyses the roots and development of the sexual revolution as a symptom, rather than the cause, of the human search for identity. This timely exploration of the history of thought behind the sexual revolution teaches readers about the past, brings clarity to the present, and gives guidance for the future as Christians navigate the culture’s ever-changing search for identity.

The Church: An Introduction, by Gregg R. Allison

What comes to mind when you think of the word church?

In this volume, Gregg R. Allison helps define the church and its mission by presenting an overview of the specific doctrines and practices of different churches and denominations. He lays a basic foundation for better understanding the common practices among local church communities (“mere ecclesiology”) and the ways that they diverge from one another (“more ecclesiology”). Through this systematic primer, you will come away knowing not only how various churches differ but also how they’re ultimately united as the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Written by: Ronell King on December 20, 2022