Tuesday, January 8

My ten favorite books for 2007

All ten of my favorite reads this past year were books published prior to 2007. Since they come from different literary categories, there is no way to list them in any kind of priority order. Suffice it to say, ALL TEN are "must read" books.

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!


8 comments:

Alan said...

Guy,
Be careful with Rob Bell, he is not very sound. He has a lot of feel-good sentimentality while downplaying the actual condition of us all. He does not like to focus on sin, hell, and "stuff like that." Like the tag on my blog says, "The good news can't be that good unless the bad news is that bad." We must present the Law AND the Gospel, that is how the Holy Spirit convicts and saves. I have a post you can read and watch some video.
http://truthincontext.blogspot.com/2007/11/rob-bell-is-loving-people-into-hell.html


In Christ
Alan

GuyMuse said...

Alan,

Yes, I have the "Bullhorn" DVD that you posted. In fact we watched it as a family this past Sunday. As we shared with our children, the issue is not so much "sin, hell, etc." but the way these truths are communicated. We have a lot of "bullhorn" evangelists in our midst, who spend a lot of time blasting people with the Gospel thinking they are doing God a favor. What I hear Rob Bell saying is, there are a lot better ways to communicate the love of God for lost sinners. In our own training we teach 19 creative ways to share the Gospel--none are the "bullhorn" approach, which I agree with Bell is more damaging to the cause of Christ than helpful.

Alan, have you read "Velvet Elvis"? I thought it was a very good book that challenged a lot of my thinking about Jesus and the Gospels.

Alan Knox said...

Guy,

Interesting book list... I've read or am reading several of those, and I've heard good things about others on your list. I'm most intrigued by your recommendation of Kite Runner. I think I may have to take a break and read some fiction so that I can read this one.

Have you read Organic Community by Joseph R. Myers? I've read it in the last week or so, and it may end up on my favorite books list of this year. I think you'll enjoy it if you haven't read it.

-Alan

GuyMuse said...

Alan,

"Kite Runner" is such a good book. I just heard they've made a movie out of it, but doubt it will be anything close to the book. He is such a good writer and the book is really well written.

I have heard of "Organic Community" by have not read it. If I can get my hands on a copy, I will surely do so. Thanks for the tip. We are always on the lookout for new good books.

Alan said...

Guy,
I have not read it but I plan to. I am not questioning Rob's sincerity, I just think his methods do more harm than good. We need more men like Johnathan Edwards today. If "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" were delivered today I am sure Mr. Bell would have a problem with it, but since it is a "classic" no one seems to mind. I think the methods these "emergents" like to use are loving people straight to hell. Did you watch the videos of Todd Friel I put up in the same post, he puts things in perspective rather well.

In Christ
Alan

GuyMuse said...

Alan,

Yes, I watched the Todd Friel videos awhile back when I first discovered your blog. I can understand where he is coming from, but our own experience is that people tend to respond better to genuine love and concern for them, rather than condemnation. Most of the people we work with KNOW they are sinners, what they are rejecting is religion as they know it, rather than an outright rejection of Christ and his message of love and forgiveness. I agree that people need to be confronted with the truth of the Gospel, but if done clothed in a living Gospel of love, they are much more likely to respond.

In Christ Alone said...

Thanks for your last comment on confrontation with Truth but clothed in Love.....I love that! and there is no condemnation in Christ (He is Love from what I have witnessed)...also...your last book...sounds like a keeper...Viola is a great writer and I look forward to this book...and a little turning the whole Christian life upside down....not such a bad thing, as comfortableness with what and how we think we are to be living is just where the evil one would have us stay.

In Him,

GuyMuse said...

In Christ Alone,

In our own context what people are rejecting is not so much Christ, it is our method of presenting his message to them. Much of our CP training revolves around reteaching more effective ways of evangelism and discipleship.

Yes, the last book, "Pagan Christianity" is due to come out soon, and I am sure it will be causing a lot of waves in the evangelical community. While the book was originally published in 2002 it was read mainly by those within the "house church" movement. With the addition of George Barna's name to the book and being republished by Tyndale, one of the major evangelical publishers, you can count on there being some feathers ruffled in the coming months. I hope to blog on the book in the coming days.