My Top Books of 2015

2015 was a pretty good year for Christian readers, and today I want to share some of my top picks from the year that is swiftly drawing to a close. Let me offer a few caveats: First, these are almost certainly not the best books of 2015 in any objective sense; rather, they are my favorites, the ones that have remained in my mind and impacted my life since I read them. Second, they are in no particular order. And finally, at the request of several readers I am posting this list before the end of the year because some people would like to refer to it as they do their Christmas shopping. Enjoy!

Become a Patron

Plausibility The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction by Ed Shaw. There may be no societal issue more pressing and prevalent today than the issue of homosexuality. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? What is the church to do with those who experience same-sex attraction? It has been a joy to see many Christians begin to offer compelling responses to the world’s wisdom. Ed Shaw’s is one of the best so far. He helpfully identifies specific concerns and shows how the Bible calls us to meet them in God’s way, and he does all of this with a firm grounding in Scripture and without an ounce of compromise. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Charlie Brown Religion A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz by Stephen Lind. This fascinating work tells the story of cartoonist Charles Schulz’s life and times while keeping the focus on his faith. His faith was as complicated as the man himself and both developed and diminished over the course of his life. Even while Schulz did so much to generate religious conversation in society, he himself turned further and further from the Bible’s wisdom. This is a fascinating portrayal of a fascinating figure. (Buy It | Read My Review)

We Cannot Be Silent We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong by Al Mohler. Mohler’s work is both courageous and timely. It closely and critically examines the defining moral issues of our day—sex, gender, and sexuality—and stands firm on the unpopular, traditional, biblical viewpoints. Mohler serves as a trusted guide to many of our deepest, most difficult, and most perplexing questions. The book will equip you to better understand this world and to live as a Christian in it. (Buy It | Read My Review)

How to Walk Into Church How To Walk Into Church by Tony Payne. I once spent a delightful day with Tony Payne, driving from one end of Sydney to the other and chatting all the while. At that time he told me he was working on this book, and I looked forward to it ever since. This is easily the simplest book on the list. All Payne wants you to do is consider how you walk into church each Sunday. His request is this: Walk into church praying about where you should sit. Yes, it is that simple. And it has that much significance. (Buy It | Read My Review)

New Pastors Handbook The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry by Jason Helopoulos. This is a book by a young pastor for other young pastors. In forty-eight short chapters Helopoulos provides counsel on knowing and heeding God’s call, on starting out strong in ministry, on the pitfalls young pastors face, and on the joys of ministry. The biggest section is comprised of very practical tips and pointers on a selection of pressing issues: caring for family, reading, leading, busyness, friendship, suffering, and many more. Ultrapractical and stuffed full of timeless wisdom, it will prove valuable to many pastors. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Accidental Feminist The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design by Courtney Reissig. Gender, we are told today, is merely a social construct, untied from sex and unleashed from masculinity or femininity. The clear demarkations of days gone by have been replaced by endless shades of gray. The Bible describes something very different. The Bible describes masculinity and femininity as being distinct, and it describes both of them as reflecting something unique and important about God himself. There is a better way—God’s way. In God’s world distinction exists in order to point to eternal truths, the very subject of Reissig’s excellent book. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Compelling Community The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever & Jamie Dunlop. This book is not a quick-fix or a church-wide program of change. It’s not a how-to guide and not a biographical account of a person or church. Instead, it is “a set of biblical principles that can guide gradual change in your congregation over several years. … It’s a book that attempts to focus on God’s purposes for church community instead of our own. … It’s a modern retelling of truths that have been discussed throughout church history, and especially in the centuries following the Protestant Reformation.” It is not theoretical but practical, drawn right out of the authors’ experiences with their own congregation. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Finding Truth Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey. In this follow-up to Total Truth, Pearcey offers 5 principles meant to unmask our culture’s endless worldview alternatives to Christianity—secularism, atheism, and the like. There are all kinds of books that make a similar promise, but this one has a noteworthy difference: Pearcey looks to Romans 1 to find a kind of apologetics training manual for identifying and challenging any other worldview. Pearcey promises that the principles she lays out will “provide you with the tools to recognize what’s right and wrong with any worldview—and then to craft a biblically informed perspective that is both true and humane.” She makes the promise and she delivers on it. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Worldly Saints Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? by Michael Wittmer. In this book Michael Wittmer answers common questions like these: Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life? Is it possible for you to be fully committed to the Lord and still find time to enjoy life’s pleasures? Or, as some seem to feel, do we need to live lives of utter frugality, sending all our money to the mission field? Are we responsible to share the gospel with absolutely every person we encounter? Should we really feel that constant low-grade guilt that accuses us that we are not doing enough for the Lord? In short, how do we resolve the tension between the pleasures of earth and the purpose of heaven? His answers are as compelling as any I’ve read. This book is a life-changer. (Buy It | Read My Review)

On Guard On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju. I wish this book didn’t exist. At least, I wish it didn’t have to exist. But in a world where abuse is rampant even within churches, this could be one of the most important books you will ever read. If I could mandate that at least one leader from every church had to read a single book, I don’t think there are too many I would choose ahead of this one. Reju carefully shows the danger of abuse and lays out steps to identify and protect against it. “Protecting the children under your care is a way to preserve your gospel witness in your community.” Not only that, but “Our ethical and moral responsibility as Christians is to protect the children whom God has entrusted to us.” We all need to take this very seriously. (Buy It | Read My Review)