It’s time once again to share my top ten favorite books of the year. Putting this list together is always fun and hard. It’s fun because I love to read and recommend books; it’s hard because I only get to pick ten, and it’s not always easy to rank them! Nevertheless, this is always one of my favorite posts to put together.
Below you will find my top 10 books of 2019. I read them in 2019, although they may have been published in a different year.
10. Why I Am Not an Arminian by Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams
One of the best exegetical defenses of Calvinism around. This book is no doubt polemical, but the authors are not abrasive or off-putting. Making their arguments from Scripture, the authors show why ultimately Calvinism theology does not derive from one man or tradition, but from Scripture itself. You may also be interested in a few new books on Calvinism.
9. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile
The subject of church government is increasingly on my mind, especially when it comes to elders and deacons. This is an area I hope to study more deeply, which is why I bought, I think, five books on the subject this year. I started with this one for some reason and I was not disappointed. I was delighted to discover that Anyabwile is a talented writer. As this subject of eldership continues to marinate in my mind, some of the points in this book will serve me well in my ministry context.
8. Don’t Just Send a Resume: How to Find the Right Job in a Local Church by Benjamin Vrbicek
Vrbicek is an excellent writer. In this book, he puts together a step-by-step guide on how to find a job in the local church. There were times when I was supposed to be studying for seminary to wrap up my last semester but instead I was reading this book! Since the writing was so good it was hard to put down, but it was also hard to put down since the subject material was particularly pressing on my life. For me, this book served its aim as it helped me in my candidating process.
7. New Bible Commentary edited by Gordon Wenham, D.A. Carson, and others
I had a seminary professor who says, “Start with the Bible, not with the commentaries.” This is a good word, although he himself is an advocate of biblical commentaries since he has written a few himself. Good biblical commentaries are a tremendous gift to the church. I bought this book because I wanted a single-volume commentary on the entire Bible. I love it. I haven’t read the whole thing, of course, and the editors do not go into deep depth on each passage like, say, a traditional technical commentary would. But for a one-volume commentary — man, you get your bang for your buck. This is an excellent resource for pastors.
6. 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson Sr.
The number “15” made the title, but I’m sure there are way, way more than 15 things a good seminary can’t teach you, although a good seminary education is extremely helpful for Christian ministry. Each chapter is written by a different author. Often, there is a good amount of vulnerability and relatability in each chapter. A helpful book for post-seminary graduates and those new to the pastorate.
5. Help for the New Pastor: Practical Advice for Your First Year of Ministry by Charles Wingard
Speaking of books helpful for those new to the pastorate, Kevin DeYoung’s pastor during his time in seminary has written a book for just that reason. I believe this is the first book I read after seminary. Good idea. It’s jam-packed with wisdom from a man who has been in ministry for a long time. Wingard is not heavy-handed but writes as a mentor for the next generation of pastors.
4. On Pastoring: A Short Guide to Living, Leading, and Ministering as a Pastor by H. B. Charles Jr.
Pithy and practical. H.B. Charles Jr. is a man who has been in pastoral ministry for over 25 years and started at the staggering age of seventeen. This book is not an in-depth exegetical oversight of what the ministry is about, but instead a short guide with practical and concrete tips on pastoral ministry. I particularly enjoyed the personal stories and illustrations in the book. Indeed, this is an enjoyable read. I read it, highlighted what stood out to me, and wrote down what I highlighted to help with memorization.
3. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller
I don’t try to preach like Tim Keller because: 1) I can’t, and 2) His ministry context is almost the polar opposite of mine. Ministry advice is not always transferable; what works in one place may not work in another. And yet, that doesn’t stop me from being able to learn and apply much of what is in this book. Not to mention I simply enjoy Keller’s content on, well, any subject, really. I particularly enjoyed Keller’s emphasis on preaching Christ, preaching to the heart, and contextualization.
2. 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy by John Piper
A friend bought this for my birthday. Highlighting the lives of Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and many more, this book is a tremendous blessing to my soul. It’s a book filled with quotes, and it’s surprisingly an easy book to read. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but the amount I have read has been incredibly encouraging.
1. The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians by D. A. Carson
An exegetical overview of much of 1 Corinthians, with an emphasis on the cross. There is more explanation of what particular verses in 1 Corinthians means than there are practical tips for Christian ministry. It is a blend of explanation with application, with more of an emphasis on the former. But, when Carson does get to applying what certain verses in 1 Corinthians means for Christian ministry, the advice is utterly convicting and helpful. This is the kind of book that can lay the proper foundation in ministry for decades. I love the emphasis on keeping Christ crucified as central in ministry.
For a taste, see my post entitled D. A. Carson on a Profane Activity During Sunday Worship.
My Top Books from Previous Years
If you’d like to see my top ten books from previous years, you can do so by clicking here.
Or you can just select a year below.