What are some books every Christian should read before turning 30?
I recently turned 30. I’ve entered a new decade for the first time in, well, a decade. I’m brimming with thanksgiving and thinking of all the things that have shaped me into the person I am today. Good Christian books certainly make that list.
In this post, I want to share 30 books every Christian should read before turning 30.
Before I do, let me give you some caveats:
1. “30” made the title, but I’ve listed more than 30 books.
2. This list, like all lists, is subjective and based on my personality, life experiences, and whichever books I providentially happened to read. This means you (or someone else) can create a similar list with 30 different books that could be just as good or better.
3. I’m sure some will read this and say, “I can’t believe such-and-such book didn’t make the list.” Such-and-such book didn’t make the list probably because I’ve never read it. While I read a lot, I cannot possibly read every good book available, let alone provide a book for every possible category.
4. This list is intended for lay Christians.
5. This list consists of Christian, non-nonfiction books only.
Alright. Let’s get to this list.
Note: You can find additional book lists at the end of this post.
30 Books Every Christian Should Read Before Turning 30
In no particular order:
1. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller
When people ask me something like, “Which top books have most influenced your life?” Paul Miller’s book on prayer always makes the list. Perhaps this book is so important to me because I read it at a pivotal time in my life. I still use part of Miller’s system on prayer to this day. A good sign of a book on prayer is that it makes you want to pray more, and this book certainly does.
2. Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles
There are many books on evangelism, most of which consist of your personal efforts in evangelism. Not a bad thing. We should individually present Christ to unbelievers. But evangelism becomes a whole lot easier and much more powerful when the entire church is evangelizing together. In this book — a book that would be a good gift for a new member at church — will show you how you and your church can collectively make disciples.
3. Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom
I contemplated whether I should have a devotional book on this list or not. In the end, I’ve included it because the writing is remarkable. Of all the devotional books I’ve read, this one is my favorite. Bloom, in my eyes, is somewhat of an underrated writer. I consider it brilliance when someone is able to put fresh language on old truths, and Bloom succeeds over and over again in this difficult task. I don’t normally re-read books, but this one I did.
4. Desiring God by John Piper
This is a book that will introduce you to Piper’s thoughts on Christian hedonism. It’s actually not my favorite Piper book (that book didn’t make this list), but since we’re talking about books for laypeople and all, this book will open your eyes to this glorious truth: God is happy and wants you to be happy in him.
5. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman
I listened to this book twice on Audible (if memory serves me correctly). It’s a book on productivity. It’s a book that will give you a 50,000-foot view of what productivity in the Christian life looks like, but more importantly why you should be productive. Also, consider reading it with Tim Challies’s excellent book, Do More Better.
The Canons of Dort. The Apostles Creed. The Nicene Creed. It’s important to be familiar with the creeds of the faith. They have stood the test of time for a reason. While the language may be archaic, the confessions and creeds will be a blessing to your soul. Creeds and confessions are an important part of the Christian faith.
7. Far as the Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption by Michael Williams
A book on the covenants in the Bible, one that I found hard to put down. The Bible (and the covenants in particular) are not just isolated stories but actually build upon one another in the grand narrative of Scripture.
8. Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Grear
They say there’s been a resurgence of “gospel-centeredness” in the church over the past decade or so. Obviously this is the work of the Spirit, who can use preaching, conferences, and books to do the work of God. Of all the books with the word “gospel” in it that sought to promote a return to goods news, this one is one of the best.
9. Happiness by Randy Alcorn
Did you know that God is happy and wants you to be happy too? Of course, he wants you to find your ultimate happiness in him. But too many of us have the mindset that “God wants me to be holy, not happy.” This myth and many like it are debunked in this book.
10. Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan
There’s a lot of killing in the Old Testament. Any reasonable person who reads the OT will have questions about it. In this book, Copan skillfully writes about many of the hard parts of the Old Testament and shows you in part the reason behind some of God’s actions.
11. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung
Who should I marry? Should I take that job? Where should I live? Life is often filled with perplexing situations. In order to skillfully make decisions, we need wisdom. In this book, DeYoung outlines a short and liberating approach to discovering God’s will. I have recommended it often and am never met with disappointed readers.
12. Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman
As long as your work isn’t sinful, you can glorify God at your job. It’s time to let go of the thought that only those in vocational ministry are truly doing the Lord’s work. Sherman will teach you about the importance of work and how your employment can be a blessing to others.
13. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem
Growing up as kids, we learn about mathematics, science, history, and other potentially difficult subjects. Our schools don’t baby us and that’s a good thing. If we’re challenged at school, then we should be forced to take theology seriously. Grudem’s book is a great place to start. It’s a short version of his Systematic Theology and a longer version of his Christian Beliefs.
This book covers the 16th century until now. There’s something about studying the past that fuels faith for the present. This book reads like a textbook, but it’s not dull or dry and will open your eyes to the past. Some speak highly of Church History in Plain Language, although I haven’t read it.
15. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
One person I admire says that this is the only book he re-reads every year. It’s a book that’s both meaty and devotional, a hard combination to intact in a book. It’s sold a lot of copies for a reason. I suggest you get yours.
16. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament Christopher J.H. Wright
The Old Testament Scriptures are being tested and tried by the critics. It’s as important as ever to take up those 39 books and read them and take them seriously. It’s what Jesus did — indeed, the OT points to him, and Wright succeeds by showing you how and why this matters for the faith.
17. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Christian community is sometimes hard. Community is where you might get hurt, but it is through community that you will get healed. We must learn to live alone at times (especially for daily devotions), but we do not only live alone. We come together regularly. In this book, Bonhoeffer paints a picture of what living in Christian community actually looks like. It’s a book that will give you more love for the people in your church.
I would love to put all of Tim Keller’s books on this list. I think I’ve read through, say, about 10 of them. Everything he writes is worth reading. He’s one of those authors that I am going to try to read every book he writes (but we’ll see if I actually do). Our hearts quickly gravitate toward idols, which is why we need to learn how to identify and get rid of them.
19.Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide by Randy Alcorn
I hate to sound dramatic and say “life-changing” but that’s exactly what happens when you read a good book on money. I read this right after undergraduate school, although I wish I would have learned some of the principles in this book at a younger age. Money has the potential to become a huge idol in your life, which is why books like these are so needed.
20. Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey
Ambition is a good thing. Yes, it can get ugly quickly. But godly ambition is a gift to the church. While we must go through seasons of waiting, testing, and suffering, we can use our ambition for good. Dave Harvey will point you in the right direction.
Maybe you will be married before 30. Maybe you won’t. But if you desire to be married one day, this is quite the book. I probably read through it too quickly and need to give it another look. Other good relationship books would be Sex, Dating, and Relationships (for dating) and Tying the Knot (for engagement).
I love reading biographies on Christian leaders. This book is an autobiography, but it might as well be a book on prayer. Mueller’s ministry was truly amazing as he trusted God to provide for his needs through prayer. You can also consider reading Calvin (a biography on John Calvin) or a biography on Charles Spurgeon (or both).
23. Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
I own multiple versions of Calvin’s classic. Regretfully, I have not read every word yet. But Calvin’s content on prayer and providence is worth it for the price alone. A test for a classic is: has the book stood the test of time? This one has.
24. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
Speaking of classics, we might as well put Sproul’s book under that category as well. It is hard to remain the same after reading this book. It’s one of the most powerful books I’ve read, one that left me stunned at the holiness of God.
25. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson
The Christian will one day be perfect (glorification). However, he or she is not there yet. In this life, we fail and fall in more ways than we’d like to admit. Some of us constantly feel shame and guilt because of our current shortcomings or our past mistakes. This book is a grace-soaked breath of fresh air for the person who constantly feels like they can’t measure up.
26. The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission by Christopher J.H. Wright
Evangelism and discipleship and church planting are crucially important. And yet, they are not the only things that matter. Turns out, we’re blessed to be a blessing, which encompasses all of life. I love this book. It’s one of the best books I read in seminary.
27. The Attributes of God by A.W Pink
Few subjects do I love to study more than God’s attributes. The more I know God, the more I love him and can more readily obey him. Theological books are not just for the head, but for the heart and hands, changing everything about us to help us obey our Lord. This is a great book on the attributes of God.
28. Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges
Had to throw a Jerry Bridges book in here. One of the reasons why I love Bridges is because he is ruthlessly committed to Scripture, personal holiness, and relevant application. This book on the grace of God is liberating.
29. What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics by R.C. Sproul
An introduction to the Reformed faith, and few people are better at teaching that than Dr. Sproul.
30. When Life Goes Dark: Finding Hope in the Midst of Depression by Richard Winter
We’ll end on a sad note: suffering. When life goes dark — and it will, over and over again — we need resources to help. This book covers an array of emotions (even though “depression” is in the subtitle) that often plague us in the Christian life. Your twenties might be harder than you think. This book could help.
I hope you enjoyed “30 Books Every Christian Should Read Before Turning 30.” If you did, you may enjoy a list of some additional books. Here are some to check out.
7 Best Theology Books for Beginners. A list of theology books to check out for those who want to start studying theology more seriously.
Seminary Books: A Complete List of Required Reading for my MDiv Studies. This is a complete list of all the books I had to read in seminary.
11 Books Every Christian in College Should Read. Here are some books Christians in college should consider reading.