Best Books of 2017--Part One

Enjoy these best books lists from some of our church leaders and pastors.

Brian Wildman, elder

Here are my top four for 2017:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance A well written memoir that also acts as an analysis of the culture of white working-class America.  

Glass House:  The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town by Brian Alexander After finishing Hillbilly Elegy, this was next on my list. Remarkable microcosm of the collapse of the American dream.  It helps give insight into American reality and politics.

A Pastor Prays for His People: A Collection of Wise and Loving Prayers to Help You through Life’s Journey by Wendell C. Hawley Written by one of our own. I’ve always loved Wendell’s congregational prayers. This book is a treasure.

The Law of Rewards: Giving What You Can’t Keep to Gain What You Can’t Lose by Randy Alcorn Great book on Christian stewardship. Alcorn makes the case that believers will receive differing rewards in heaven depending on their actions and choices here on earth.

Rob Wolgemuth, elder

The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson Finding Biblical truth (and anchoring) in the age-old debate between legalism and antinomianism. Hint: one does not counteract the other, rather union with Christ is the remedy for both. Very thought-provoking, spiritually encouraging and well-written book.

The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power by R.A. Torrey Practical, engaging and convicting words on how, why and what to pray. Torrey’s book How to Pray is also a great read. In both these two books, he was very direct about the state of the church and the need for prayer (and revival). Despite being a scholar; Torrey always wrote in an accessible, easy to read way.

Future Grace by John Piper (reading it now) I attended a Desiring God conference on this topic five years ago and was so impacted by it, I decided to read the actual book. A friend of mine at church also encouraged me to read it. It is incredibly well written, packed with rich theology and biblically saturated. This is an incredible book, it has changed the way I think about grace and faith (and other such topics).

Eric Channing, elder

 The Bible. This is #1, not just because I’m a pastor. This is my spiritual food, and life source. Truly the best book I read this year, and that’s why I re-read it every year.

The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson (A Puritan- first published in 1668): This book is a treasure. Watson provides us with much needed clarity in an age when this key doctrine is largely misunderstood and/or neglected.

Reset: Living a Grace Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, by David Murray. In this book, Murray provides tools for Christian men avoid burnout amidst the stresses and challenges of life. Some of my takeaways from this book were: Sleep more, schedule times to relax, and build your schedule for 80% capacity to allow for interruptions.

The Pastor & Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need, by Jeremy Pierre & Depak Reju. This book gives helpful, practical tools for pastors who counsel others. A quick read that will I trust will benefit those I counsel in the future.

Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverence, by Angela Duckworth. This book, written from a secular worldview, helps us understand the world’s understanding of success while debunking the view that “success” is due primarily to talent. There are some good principles to be learned about perseverance and hard work in this book, but the discerning Christian reader must infuse a Christ-centered, grace-filled worldview into this discussion to avoid a “try harder and you will succeed” mentality.

Julie Clemens, director of disability ministries

The Life We Never Expected

Ben Panner, college pastor

The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves

On the Incarnation by Athanasius

Zach Fallon, junior high pastor

Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John, Martyn Lloyd Jones Looking to be enriched as you study God's Word? This book is a compilation of sermons on 1 John by one of the great expository preachers of the 20th century.

George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father, Thomas Kidd A greatly-researched biography on the Englishman God used to stir up the spiritual conscience of America.

Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis I spent much of 2017 reading through these stories with my five-year-old son. He has been just about the perfect age for us to enjoy them together.