Christmas is near. I cannot think of a better possible gift than a book. Here are ten to consider. They are not always religious but they are interesting. The list is in no particular order. With each book there is information provided by Amazon.com followed by, “Why I recommend this book.”
“Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: and How 4 Acts of Love will Make Your Church Irresistible” by Thom and Joani Schultz. This book will forever change the way you think about church! The statistics are clear: The American church is in decline. And despite church leaders’ best efforts to stem the tide, more than 80 percent of people are finding something better to do on Sunday mornings. In this groundbreaking new book, Thom and Joani Schultz expose the church practices that are driving people away and thwarting spiritual growth. Yet they also reveal what can bring them back—the four keys to reaching the “unchurched” and the “dechurched.” The bad news? Your church is probably missing the mark when it comes to the core of Christianity. The good news? There’s hope. Lots of it. The truth may surprise you…but it can also transform your ministry into something truly irresistible.
Why I recommend this book: “We trust you want to make a difference. Our prayer is that you’re personally willing to do some things to grow and change. We’re all in this God-venture together.” (From Why) I have read many books that vividly describe what is wrong with the church of today. What makes this book unique are the practical and creative ideas offered in four areas of church life: radical hospitality, fearless conversation, genuine humility and divine anticipation. Utilizing just one or two of the hundreds of suggestions offered could radically transform your church.
“David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants” by Malcolm Gladwell. Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.
Why I recommend this book: “What the Israelites saw, from high on the ridge was an intimidating giant. In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness.” (From David) Malcolm Gladwell has a wonderful way of helping you understand a story or event from a different perspective. Whether it’s about coaching a little league team or looking at our nation’s civil rights struggles, you will gain fresh insight in how we deal with suffering and adversity.
“Overflow: Increase Worship Attendance and Bear More Fruit” by Lovett H. Weems and Tom Berlin. At the heart of why any church exists is to glorify God and to share God as revealed in Jesus Christ; thus worship is at the center of the congregation’s life. The church, of course, is more than worship, but without vital worship attendance, it is unlikely that members are growing and new disciples are being brought to faith. Worship attendance is also the one factor where improvement tends to help
every other aspect of the church’s ministry. Churches that grow connect people with God, and compelling and inspiring worship is a primary means of connection.
Why I recommend this book: “Worship is powerful. It changes lives. If you want to do something to increase the joy of God and bless others then it will be important to figure out how to make worship more real, more communal, more personal and more inclusive.” (From Overflow) If worship is important to you, then you will benefit from reading this book. Tom Berlin is pastor of a rapidly growing church while Lovett Weems provides a depth of research that helps us better understand what results in vital and life-changing worship.
“The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy” by Larry J. Sabato. John F. Kennedy died almost half a century ago—yet because of his extraordinary promise and untimely death, his star still resonates strongly. On the anniversary of his assassination, celebrated political scientist and analyst Larry J. Sabato—himself a teenager in the early 1960s and inspired by JFK and his presidency—explores the fascinating and powerful influence he has had over five decades on the media, the general public, and especially on each of his nine presidential successors. A recent Gallup poll gave JFK the highest job approval rating of any of those successors, and millions remain captivated by his one thousand days in the White House.
Why I recommend this book: “Because of its deep wound to the national psyche, November 22, 1963 was the focus of more books and TV shows than any other aspect of John Kennedy’s story.” Larry Sabato, Director of the Political Science Center at University of Virginia is widely recognized as an expert in the art and science of politics. “The Kennedy Half Century” offers a thorough analysis of the assassination and also closely examines the impact of the assassination and the Kennedy legacy on politics throughout the last fifty years.
“Sycamore Row” by John Grisham. John Grisham’s A Time to Kill is one of the most popular novels of our time. Now we return to that famous courthouse in Clanton as Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial-a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history. Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.
Why I recommend this book: John Grisham once again writes a riveting story, this time about a lawyer representing several families impacted by a last minute hand-written will. But in the midst of this story, there is a poignant scene within “Sycamore Row” about two teenagers who are killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver. The parents of one of the slain teenagers approach the driver before the trial and surprisingly offer complete and total forgiveness. Why? Because as Christians they believe this is what God would want them to do.
Next week: Five more books to recommend. Meanwhile, send me your comments or suggestions for other books to: LarryDaviies@PrayWithYou.org