The start of summer often marks the beginning of a season of rest for many pastors. Whether you’re vacationing with family, traveling the globe or taking a sabbatical for a few weeks, it’s the prime opportunity to catch up on some reading and grow in your spiritual walk. Take this time to challenge yourself to learn something new—or old—while you’re taking a much-needed break from your normal routine.
Here are just a few recommendations for your reading pleasure this summer. Some are not-so-new yet valuable and timeless, while others are current releases that will stretch your thinking and help you grow during your time of rest.
1. Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community, by Mark DeYmaz. If you’re looking for the motivation you need to make big changes in your approach to the way we do church, this is the book for you. DeYmaz asks us to break the mold, challenge our thinking and create new patterns within the church to match the changing world around us.
2. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, by N.T. Wright. This book is perfect for the scholar who appreciates a refreshed look at something very familiar. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright revisits the true story of the Gospels and aims to help readers refocus their view of eternity and regain a grasp of Kingdom living here and now.
3. Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be, by Mark Batterson. In his latest book, Mark Batterson lays out seven virtues of manhood and shares inspiring stores in order to show readers what it truly means to be a man. If you want to be pushed outside of your comfort zone and take a closer look at how to fulfill God’s calling on your life as a man and father, this book will do just that.
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, by Carolyn Custis James. Women comprise more than half of the church, yet oftentimes find themselves wondering what their role is in contributing to God’s kingdom. Somewhere between oppressive patriarchy and radical feminism, there must be a solid ground Christian women can take. There is too much at stake for the church to underutilize half its members. Using her expertise in biblical studies, Custis shows women and men alike what the church could be if we were to utilize everyone to their fullest.
4. The Call: Finding & Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, by Os Guinness. This book will inspire you to search for and identify the specific calling God has for your life. Guinness covers the questions we’ve all been asking ourselves for years about how to find meaning in our everyday lives. He walks the reader through taking an inventory of their gifts, talents, abilities and desires, and encourages us to seek out and fulfill our purpose in life.
5. Killing us Softly: Reborn in the Upside-Down Image of God, by Efrem Smith. If you want to explore what it means to “die to self” and truly live for God’s kingdom, Smith’s newest book engages the reader in an exploration of God’s love and grace, and how he softly kills the selfish nature that resides in all of us. He covers topics related to the upside-down world of sin, idolatry, racism, sexism, broken relationships, etc., and how Christians should live in the right-side-up image of God.
6. Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants, by Louie Giglio. We all have giants in our lives that we’re trying to overcome—something that grips us and won’t let go. Whether it be irrational fears, addiction, anger or rejection we face, it’s easy to lose sight of God’s promises for our lives. Giglio encourages and reminds us that God has a better plan and that he wants us to be victorious over our giants. If you’re in need of some encouragement to break through a place of freedom from what’s gripping you, this is the book for you.
7. Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You, by John Ortberg. The title of the book says it all. Are you taking care of the state of your soul? Ortberg implores us to stop neglecting this eternal part of ourselves and reject the focus on the temporal concerns of the world. This book is the breath of fresh air you need during your time away from everyday life to remind you of what’s most important: a deep relationship with our divine Creator.
8. The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: Seven Elements of Discipleship Lifestyle, by Bobby Harrington & Josh Patrick. Many churches state that their mission is to make disciples. If that is the goal of the church you lead and you’ve struggled to make it happen, then The Disciple Maker’s Handbook is a necessary tool for your leadership team. This practical guide will teach you how to effectively make disciples who make disciples by introducing the seven key elements that set the framework for making it happen.
9. The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey Through Pearl Harbor and the World of War, by Jim Downing & James Lund. This inspiring story of Downing’s experience in World War II gives Christians a unique perspective on what it means to be people of faith during difficult times and circumstances. While others might run from an attack, Downing and his fellow men ran toward it, courageously fighting to rescue others and search for redemption from a devastating war. Whether you’re a history buff or looking for inspiration, this is one that is sure to please.
10. As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God, by Eugene Peterson. If you want to take in the wisdom that comes from 29 years of pastoring and self-discovery, Kingfishers Catch Fire will capture your attention. This book is a collection of Peterson’s teachings from throughout the years, covering a vast number of topics. It’s a must-read for any pastor who is looking for direction on their role as a pastor.
And if you’re looking for something classic to read (or re-read), we’ve got a couple more ideas for your summer reading list:
The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence
Orthodoxy, by GK Chesterton
The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dark Night of the Soul, by John of the Cross
The Interior Castle, by Teresa de Avila
The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis
The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer