My top five favorite books for 2007 in no particular order:
Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens by Neil Cole. One of the highlights of 2007 was my trip to Southern California to an organic church planting conference sponsored by Neil Cole and friends. I picked up a copy of his book there and consider it to be one of the better house/simple/organic church books written to date. I would highly recommend this as a good place to start in one's journey to discover church outside the walls of institutional Christianity. I echo Curtis Sergeant's comments on the book, "I heartily recommend this book. It is packed with deep insights; you will find no fluff in it. Among the books on church planting, it offers a rare combination of attributes: it is biblical and well written, its model has proven effective, and it is authored by a practitioner rather than an observer or an ivory-tower theoretician."
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts On Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller. All I can say is read the book. It took me a few chapters to get into Miller's style of writing, but once I did, it was hard to put down. Through his everyday life stories, there is a wealth of spiritual truth, humor, and relevancy that refreshes one's soul like few other books are able to do.
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. I was initially turned off by the title, but what a great read! I was challenged by what Bell writes so much I shelled out $170 to buy the entire video series that deals with many of the same themes addressed in the book. I like books that challenge the status quo. This is one book that will really get you to see another angle to things normally taken for granted in Scripture.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang is a real life saga of a Chinese family over three generations in twentieth-century China. It is an insider view into everyday life as lived and understood from a Chinese perspective. To read this book was for me an eye opening experience into the era of Chairman Mao's China. My understanding of communist China has been greatly enhanced by Chang's detailed explanation of everyday life of real people living under the oppression of a government that rules over every aspect of an individual's life. Wild Swans has been around since 1991, and after finishing this amazing book, can understand how it has sold over 10-million copies and translated into 30 languages.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini certainly rates amongst the best fictional novels I have ever read. It is a powerful story that takes place in Afghanistan. You simply cannot go wrong in getting hold of a copy of this book. Just make sure you have a long uninterrupted space of time to read, because once you start, it will be hard to put down!
The bottom five of my favorite ten books for 2007 (in no particular order):
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. I had the privilege of hearing Ori Brafman in person as he gave a seminar on this extraordinary book. Much of what he shared with us during the conference can be found in the pages of this book. The authors give us an entertaining look at how decentralization is changing many organizations. The applications for the Church are clearly visible and it is no wonder those in the house church movement have gravitated towards this work.
The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament by Frank Viola is a fascinating look at the New Testament in chronological order, rather than arranged by size as we have today in our Bibles. This helpful book does a good job at explaining a lot of the background which helps us gain a much clearer understanding of how all the pieces "fit" in what often seems like a jigsaw puzzle. Few write on the subject of the early first-century church as comprehensively as Frank Viola. This volume is yet another in a long list of helpful books on first-century ecclesiology.
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman is a book everyone in ministry must read in order to better understand today's changing world. While parts of the book are a bit tedious and share more information than I was interested in knowing, one has to recognize Friedman's ability to identify the patterns behind many of the complex global developments taking place in our lifetime. After reading this classic, I feel I have a much better understanding of today's rapidly changing world.
Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive by John Eldredge. John is one of my favorite authors. It seems I connect with everything he writes. Waking the Dead is no exception.
Pagan Christianity? Exploring The Roots Of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna is a revised and updated version of Viola's 2002 book by the same title. This book is sure to cause waves in evangelical circles once released later this year with Barna's name attached. I plan to blog on this book in the coming days so will reserve my comments for then. I predict this will be one of the most unpopular and criticized books of 2008. For now, stand warned that if you read Pagan Christianity be prepared to have your Christian world turned upside down!