My 2012 Summer Reading List


As a student, my time is so totally consumed by reading assignments, that I barely have time to read commentaries for my weekly sermon prep. So, when it comes to books I want to read for personal, professional or recreational purposes, I really don’t have the time.


So, each summer, I try to make a list of books that I would like to read. I typically do this in my head, because the books I want to read are always sitting close to me–or on my mind. However, what typically happens is that I don’t get to any of them, because I’ve not made a concerted effort to keep myself on track.


I believe that starts by making a list of the books I want to read. Here’s my list.


I try to have a fiction about every five books or so. There are history books I’ve read before, or ones I haven’t gotten around to reading. Many have to do with leadership and most have to do with church renewal in a new-world reality. Honestly, my opinion is that most pastors immediate libraries should contain books surrounding that subject.


It isn’t enough, anymore, to just “give them the gospel.” There is a new world out there, and the church is allowing itself to be left behind (no pun intended) by it. The world no longer understands the church and has increasingly began to give up on religion, in toto.


The main thrust of my reading list is dealing with that issue.


Here is my list, and some reasons I chose these books:


1. Minding The Good Ground by Jason E. Vickers

Jason Vickers is a professor at my seminary. He teaches a class on church renewal and his book is featured in any class which is teaching on that subject. I am taking a church renewal class in the fall, s it makes sense to read this early. However, I’ve wanted to read this since I first heard about it. I suggest it for your reading list, as well.

2. If God is Love by Phillip Gulley & James Mulholland

This book has meant so much to me for so long. I read it right after I read their other book, If Grace is True. I recommend this for you, whether you are a clergy or layperson.

3. Hijacked by Mike Slaughter & Charles Gutenson

This is a book about the church and the partisan divide within it. It is written by United graduate and professor Mike Slaughter, and the professor who will be teaching my church renewal class in the fall, Charles Gutenson. It’s got a great cover and features a prominent United Methodist.

4. The Great Theologians by Gerald R. McDermott

One of my classmates, Ron Fike, suggested this book as a kind of “cliffnotes” for theology. It features the broad-strokes of theology from throughout the history of the church.

5. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Kindle)

The first fiction book on the list. This just looks like some naughty fun. I know it’s not new, but I’ve had it on the “shelf” (I’m reading it on Kindle) for a while. Can’t wait for this one.

6. A Door Set Open by Peter L. Steinke

My father-in-law gave this book to me last summer. I got through some of it, but not all. Considering the success he has had making disciples, I take any of his suggestions.

7. Three Simple Questions by Ruben P. Job

This is the latest of the “little” books from Bishop Ruben P. Job. I want to explore it for possible use as a small group study in the fall.

8. Back to Zero by Gil Rendle (Kindle)

This was a book on the pre-General Conference (the UM governing body) reading list this year. It is by a United Methodist and it’s for United Methodists. Other can–and maybe should–read it. However, you may feel a bit like the the only gentile in temple on Friday.

9. Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase

Yeah, it’s a bit old–when you consider this UM fad is about out of style. However, this still has plenty of useful information in it, and churches can still use it to discern and disciple.

10. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

This book was assigned to me back in 2001, as a textbook in my poli-sci class at IPFW. I quit school after that semester, but always found this book interesting. I haven’t read it in a while, so I’m looking forward to the refresher.

11. Live to Tell by Brad Kallenberg

This was a textbook in my evangelism class last semester. It talks about the problems of faith and conversion in a post-modern world in terms of the people we are trying to reach. I have since purchased it for a couple of colleagues. I recommend it for all.

12. You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

My father-in-law passed this on to me when he was done. I thought I should read it, so here it is.

13. Leading Beyond the Walls: Developing Congregations with a Heart for the Unchurched by Adam Hamilton

This was on my required reading list when I attended Local Pastor’s Licensing School back during the summer of ’04. I remember thinking it had some great ideas in it. I am re-reading it in hopes that I soak some of it in, this time.

14. To Close to Call by Jeffrey Toobin

While completing my undergraduate work at Ball State University, I began to research the 2000 presidential election. This was a personal endeavor–it wasn’t for a grade. I have a lot of stuff, and this book is part of that personal research. I think I’m going to write an academic paper on the 2000 election once I get a summer free from impending school stuff and moving appointments. Until then, I’m going to refresh my memory on the facts. This is a start.

15. Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

For my undergraduate work, I took a sports history class. It was taught by a professor who has had tenure for a long time. He was great and entertaining, but he was insane. The good thing about him was he assigned some sports history and fiction books that were interesting and heart-warming/breaking. This book is all of that. About a boy who goads a major-leaguer into a deep and personal relationship, it is a book for all ages and genders.

16.The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch

Another church renewal/mission book. It looks fun to read. I hope it is.

17. Love Wins by Rob Bell

I have wanted to read this since it came out, but haven’t had the time. It contains the same stuff that Augustine were fighting Arius about, but you gotta read a book that causes so much controversy.

18. Teach Your Team to Fish by Laurie Beth Jones

I’ve had this one on my shelf for a while. It’s features leadership stuff, so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad thing to read–since it fits my summer reading theme.

19. Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times by Peter L. Steinke

Another suggestion from my father-in-law. Leadership stuff, but with a twist to feature anxious and tumultuous times.

20. Father Coughlin and the New Deal by Charles J. Tull

I have said that Glenn Beck is the Mormon, and modern-day Father Coughlin. He has compared others to Father Coughlin–I think in hopes of throwing people off his stench–but he is the modern-day equivolent. I got this book while I was still at Ball State and want to read it because I love history–especially when it involves WWII and religion.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below.

Who knows? You could get me to read your favorite books. Oh, the joy!


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