1) Bridges out of Poverty (Ruby Payne)
- This book has been a life-saver in presenting a framework to understand the poor. Hidden rules, roles, communication...there is so much in this book. Also, the companion book "What every church member needs to know about poverty" is great.
2) Switch (Chip and Dan Heath)
- Recommended by my friend Joel Boehner, this leadership book, dealing with enacting change, is the MOST HELPFUL book I have EVER read. You will hear me reference the analogies in this book from now until I can no longer speak, or remember what an elephant is. I seriously believe every pastor and leader in any capacity needs to read this book, and every other person would probably enjoy it as well.
3) Love is an Orientation (Andrew Marin)
- I put off reading this book, because I thought I would already know where the author was going (and likely agree). After several people encouraged me to read, I jumped in. The author deals with encouraging the church to raise our conversation with the gay community. Beyond that issue, Marin presents a picture of living life in a way that matches with what Christianity says it believes about the identity of people, our interactions with each other, and the nature of the work of God in the lives of people. It impacts the conversation with the GLBT community, but taught me so much more as well. If you're from the world of traditional evangelical Christianity like me, please read this book.
4) Myth of a Christian Nation (Greg Boyd)
- This is another book I put off, assuming I already knew where the author was going and sensed an agenda behind it. I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, Boyd does address all of the inconsistencies of a civil religion, but within a bigger perspective. He asks what God's Kingdom come to earth looks like. This "Kingdom" perspective has shaped me greatly.
5) Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Rob Bell)
- Unlike many of Bell's books, this one spends the first two-thirds pouring through the story woven through the Old Testament. The picture Rob draws out from the story becomes the nitty-gritty research for the perspective presented in "Myth of a Christian Nation" listed above. This is another book that looks at God's Kingdom on earth. Additionally it asks some really pointed questions about Christians and whether or not we really reflect the values of the Kingdom. This is another must read.
6) Justified (NT Wright)
- This is a deep, theology one. It took forever to read and even longer to process. I don't know that I agree with all of Wright's conclusions, but I love that he desires to look at the Biblical text through the eyes of the original authors and audience. His view of scriptural interpretation is what most impacted me. I don't recommend it unless you like the really deep ones, in which case, you should definitely check this one out.
Have you read any of these? Any questions about them?
*NOTE* I know this will be mirrored into Facebook, but I'm staying away from that crazy place until late April, so please leave any comments on my blog: ryanyazel.blogspot.com. Thanks!