Decent amounts of reading make for a great holiday tradition for me. Here’s what I’ve read recently…. and here’s the headlines if they’re of interest to you?! Yes some of you have asked, so here’s the titles, how I rated it out of 5, a simple one sentence summary and a favourite sentence quote. Just a takeaway…

Sandcastle Kings, Rich Wilkerson Jr 2.5* A surprising rummage in Luke 7 around longings, lack and the lordship of Jesus Christ. p45 “In scripture two things amaze Jesus. Great faith and lack of faith. When Jesus looks at your life, what does he see?”

Why on Earth did anyone become a Christian in the first three centuries? Larry Hurtado 3* Research-rich, challenge-full, geo-historic academic survey of the cost of early discipleship to Jesus. p113, “…if what you desired was greater social acceptance, early Christianity was hardly a sensible route to take!”

Radical leadership, Michael Green 3.5* Biblical, wide-ranging but ultimately a very bitty offering. p34 “Christ’s back is broad enough to carry all our worries and he will because literally, ‘it matters to him about you.’ Our part is to cast the burden firmly and intentionally on Jesus.”

42 seconds, Carl Medearis 3.5* A pacey four part approach to winsome missional living. “We’re starting to build a friendship. Everytime I’m there, I bring up something about Jesus.” ps disappointingly the title had almost nothing to do with the contents!

The road to growth less travelled, David Runcorn 4* Engaging and subversive exploration in contemplation, rootedness and missional pathways. p10 “The outer life of the church must always be lived in careful partnership with its hidden vocation.”

Community and growth, Jean Vanier 4* An enduring if lengthy classic about shared, loving responsibility and it’s character, meaning and reach in God’s heart for our world. p84 “The pains of community are situated between the joy of this communion and friendship with Jesus and the joy of giving life to others: the mission.”

Leading congregational change, Herrington, Bonem & Furr, 4* Interdisciplinary insight in the nurture of congregational flourishing with the highlights being preparation, urgency, mission and change. p11 “Are the things we are doing the most faithful and effective means of reaching our community with the gospel.”

Leading by story, Roberts & Sims 4* Substantive exploration into our storied world: its ecology, purpose and reach. p201 “May you have a story-worthy experience of leading by story.”

Demolishing strongholds, Johnny Hunt 4.5* An unvarnished pastoral intervention on the stereotypical strongholds in the male psyche. p65 “Distractions can easily lead to attractions that cause us to veer off course.”

This is our time, Trevin Wax 5* Jesus-exalting, culture-understanding and challenge-speaking to the heartland of habit, purpose and formation. p26,58 “Knowledge is the drug and ‘feeling right’ is the high. And what goes missing is…. wisdom……..Faithfulness requires us to see the world’s longings and lies in light of the gospel.”

Subversive sabbath, AJ Swoboda 5* A beautiful substantive invitation into the rest and delight of God. p8 “Sabbath baptises our week into the grace and mercy of God.”

The Spirit driven church, Terje Hegertun 5* A chewy academic ecclesial worldview in partnership with God’s spirit’s activity. A robust and energetic celebration. p162 “The church is always more than it seems from the outside.”

Don’t follow your heart, Jon Bloom 5* Heart-challenging, faith-deepening, discipleship-forged biblical meditations. p38 “Stressed vines produce good wines….God produces rich, complex, intense faith in His children. Because when it comes to faith God loves good wine.”

A wilderness of mirrors, Mark Meynell 5*Remarkably researched, excellently crafted cultural analysis on lost trust and the possibility of gospel hope. p107 “Reality has a maddening habit of puncturing what we presumed were the hermetically sealed walls of our constructed realities.”

Facing leviathan, Mark Sayers 5* Truly pioneering and wonderfully inspiring cultural analysis holding Jonah and Hitler alongside others in the mix of faithful biblical leadership. Brilliant and bracing stuff. p201 “Sacrificial love wrapped up in grace, is what save. The power with which God triumphs over the abyss, sin, chaos and death is a power made perfect in weakness.”

God dreams, Mancini & Bird 5* Tactics, strategy and blue-sky vision explored and engineered brilliantly. p10 “The church of God doesn’t have a mission as much as the mission of God has a church.”

The burden is light, Jon Tyson 5* Deft, challenging and visionary biographic theology. p53 “The Father’s approval gave Jesus the security to avoid an addiction to success and scandalously give His life away in love.”

The gospel comes with a house key, Rosaria Butterfield 5* An inescapably biblical vision for transformative Christian hospitality, deeply rooted and with a generous side of whimsy. Radical, refreshing and revolutionary. p40 “In post-Christian communities, your words can be only as strong as your relationships. Your best weapon is an open door, a set table, a fresh pot of coffee and a box of kleenex for the tears that spill.”

A gospel of hope, Walter Brueggemann 5*A rich, fresh expansive kingdom vision of the world shot through with the generousity, hospitality and forgiveness of the King! Immense compilation good of the Brueggemann’s best writing. p96 “Hope is indeed a communal activity, for none can hope alone. The intention of holy agency is to form communities of obedient action that rely upon and respond to divine intention.”

Shrink, Tim Suttle 5* A subversive kingdom cocktail for church health and community flourishing. p35& 44, “Sometimes the promise of greatness is all it takes to destroy the good in us…… If I am not vulnerable, I am not leading!”