I came back from TGC19 on Wednesday with a journal full of notes and a bag full of books. I’m always thankful for the rich reminders and new insights gained at conferences like this. I’m also thankful for the fresh pile of reading for the weeks and months ahead. Here are the 5 books I brought home from TGC that I’m most excited to read next:
1. Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Own Land by Elliot Clark
I’ve already cracked this book open and started reading. Coming off a whole conference on evangelism, I’m eager to press further into the topic. Candidly, I often feel weak and inconsistent in this area of my Christian life, but I’ve already appreciated the encouraging tone of Clark’s writing. Clark shares the wisdom he’s gleaned from 1 Peter and missions work in Central Asia to fuel our witness in this American culture where we increasingly feel less at home. It’s a timely message for the church, and it’s one I need myself.
2. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
One of the first books I read this year was Haidt and Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. It was equal parts fascinating, infuriating, terrifying, and inspiring. The often odd, and sometimes downright crazy, events unfolding on college campuses today is a phenomenon worth exploring, and The Coddling is a great place to start. However, even in that book, Haidt and Lukianoff argue that the university is a window into the culture at large. So, I’m looking forward to hearing Haidt unpack and diagnose some of the division and hostility we see in America today.
3. True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer
Francis Schaeffer is one of those guys I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve never read. I know his name, but until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t have told you the title of a single book he wrote. Then I heard Ray Ortlund mention that True Spirituality was one of the greatest books he’d ever read in his life. That perked my interest, and I was thankful to find it on the “TGC Recommends” table in the bookstore. I could be wrong, but I bet I know who recommended it! I have a feeling this will not be the last Schaeffer book I read.
4. Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures For Approaching God’s Word by Matt Smethurst
Our church is currently taking a one-year journey through the Bible in 50 sermons. Our partner ministry Unlocking the Bible also created an amazing evangelistic resource to help individuals walk through the Bible story with a friend (check it out here!). We want people opening their Bibles and reading! But, what steps can we take before we read to make sure we’re ready for an encounter with God in his Word? How can we prepare our hearts for such an amazing opportunity? I’ve never seen a book with the sole purpose of addressing this question, and I’m really glad we’ve got one now.
5. Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age by Tony Reinke
Reinke’s 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You was brilliant. I listened to the audiobook over several nights rocking my newborn daughter to sleep. I honestly believe that I am a better dad, husband, friend, pastor, and Christian because of that book. Reinke doesn’t tell us to destroy our phones, but he does strongly challenge us to think hard about the amount of our lives we give to technology. I can’t recommend 12 Ways enough, and I trust Competing Spectacles will be another blessing.
Good books are good gifts from God. I’m thankful for the wealth of resources available today and for the steeply discounted prices at conferences! What about you, what are you most excited to read next?