“Ten Books for Summer” has become an annual tradition. I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are my favorite books for summer of 2016. 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 like this book.”

Lasting Impact

Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof. You’ve probably noticed … Churches aren’t growing. Young adults are walking away. Volunteers are hard to recruit. Leaders are burning out. And the culture is changing faster than ever before. There’s no doubt the church is in a moment in history for which few church leaders are prepared. You can look for answers, but the right response depends on having the right conversation. In Lasting Impact, Carey Nieuwhof leads you through seven conversations that will help your church grow and have a lasting impact.

Why I like this book: Carey Nieuwhof said it best. “What if … Having the right conversations could change your trajectory? There was more hope than you realized? The potential to grow was greater than the potential to decline? Your community was waiting for a church to offer the hope they’re looking for? Your best days as a church were ahead of you? Maybe the future belongs to the churches that are willing to have the most honest conversations at a critical time. That’s what Lasting Impact is designed to facilitate.” I plan to use this book extensively. There are so many helpful ideas and so many good questions that every church needs to ask and answer. If you only read one book on the list, read this one.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett (Author), Brian Fikkert. Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good. But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to himself. Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

Why I like this book: “A helpful first step in thinking about working with the poor in any context is to discern whether the situation calls for relief, rehabilitation or development. In fact, the failure to distinguish among these situations is one of the most common reasons that poverty-alleviation efforts often do harm.” (from “When Helping Hurts”) There are no punches pulled in this extremely helpful book for anyone or any organization seeking to help those entrenched in poverty. The strategies for helping often require much more involvement than many organizations currently provide and the materially poor can offer better answers to their situation than we think. We need to listen more as we discern their needs.

Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage by Richard Stengel. A profoundly inspiring book that captures the spirit of Nelson Mandela, distilling the South African leader’s wisdom into 15 vital life lessons. Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013 at the age of ninety-five liber¬ated a country from a system of violent prejudice and helped unite oppressor and oppressed in a way that had never been done before. This uplifting book captures the spirit of this extraordinary man—warrior, martyr, husband, statesman, and moral leader—and spurs us to look within ourselves, reconsider the things we take for granted, and contemplate the legacy we’ll leave behind.

Why I like this book: “It is extraordinary that a man who was ill-treated for most of his life can see so much good in others.” (from Mandela’s Way) There are many good biographies about Nelson Mandela but this book takes a different approach. Using Mandela’s teachings and stories, Stengel teaches fifteen unforgettable lessons about Life, Love and Courage. Each chapter is filled with real-life examples that provide guidance for us all. The lesson, “See the Good in Others” praised Mandela’s ability to see almost everyone as virtuous. “If you expect more of people, whether they are coworkers or family members, they often contribute more. Or at least feel guilty if they do not. In a curious way, prison opened up Mandela’s view of human nature rather than constricting it.”

Confessions of a Prayer Slacker by Diane Moody. Let’s face it. Most of us are clueless when it comes to praying. Why is that? And how come we’ve never done anything about it? In Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, author Diane Moody traces her own personal prayer journey with a touch of humor and a healthy dose of transparency. ”I want my readers to stop the merry-go-round of prayerlessness, quit acting like a bunch of spiritual babies, and get serious about this thing called prayer. Without it, we’ll never experience the warm, one-on-one relationship God desires to have with each one of us.”

Why I like this book: Even as a pastor who writes about and teaches the importance of prayer, I still struggle to pray regularly and well. If you struggle too, then you will appreciate this book. Moody confesses: “I’ve got shelves lined with books about prayer. I’ve tried prayer formulas. I even tried ‘praying the Scriptures.’ Sometimes, I’d be inspired by a sermon and recommit myself to pray daily. I’d buy a new notebook to organize my praying. And off I’d go… for a day or two. Time after time, I’d make the effort only to fail again and again.” If you are honest, you struggle too. So, get this book and be encouraged but more importantly, recommit yourself to improving your prayer life.

Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age by Jo Ann Jenkins. “50 is the new 30!” or “60 is the new 40!” A nice sentiment to be sure, but CEO of AARP Jo Ann Jenkins disagrees. 50 is 50, and she, for one, likes the look of it. Jenkins focuses on three core areas—health, wealth, and self—to show us how to embrace opportunities and change the way we look at getting older. Here, she chronicles her own journey and that of others who are making their mark as disruptors to show readers how we can be active, healthy, and happy as we get older. She touches on all the important issues facing people 50+ today, from caregiving and mindful living to building age-friendly communities and making our money last. This is a book for all the makers and doers who have a desire to continue exploring possibilities, to celebrate discovery over decline, and to seek out opportunities to live the best life there is.

Why I like this book: “How do I balance my world of life and work? How do I find happiness and peace of mind in a world turned upside down by fast and constant change? How do I plan for life and work for the next ten, twenty, thirty, or even more years?” (from Disrupt Aging) We are all aging. As I being my sixth decade of life, I realize more than ever the need to find answers from my now older perspective. One lesson for me is to see the vital need for the experience and wisdom my generation offers. There are opportunities within businesses and organizations that call for cooperation and respect from young and old alike. In the midst of the many questions and challenges we could discover that our older age could provide the most meaningful time of our lives.

Next week: Five more books to recommend. Meanwhile, send me your comments or suggestions for other books to: LarryDavies@PrayWithYou.org