We asked a couple of Advance leaders from around the world what they are reading at the moment, here are their recommendations…
PJ Smyth – Monument Church, United States
The Man God Uses, by Oswald J. Smith
This is old school. A classic. It’s one of those “read once a year” books. It bangs one nail in from different angles: whole-heartedness. It is red hot like the furnace of God. The kindle version costs $1. The hardcover version costs $799!
Oswald J. Smith was a Canadian pastor who died in 1986. His life’s message was spirit-filled, separate, and service. This book is a much-needed antidote to apathetic Christianity. If you are sharing the throne with Jesus in an area of life, this book should knock you off!
Paul Maughan – Common Ground Inner City and Seapoint, South Africa
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer
This is a book I have read 3 times. My wife has read it. Our lives have changed because of it. Our life group and elders are reading the book. Why? It points us towards Jesus and equips us to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world.
John Mark Comer is a pastor, who transitioned himself from leading a rapidly growing multisite church, to rather leading a single congregation. He tells that story (The Problem) and how he took steps to change the trajectory of his life (The Solution). The book then ends with four spiritual practices that he commends (Silence and Solitude, Sabbath, Simplicity and Slowing). The artful use of alliteration confirming his status as a follower of Jesus. It was written pre-Covid but could not be more timely.
Andrew Sampson – Grace Truro, England
Invitation to Retreat, by Ruth Haley Barton
For me, the experience of living through lockdown has been exhausting. I’ve long been convinced of the importance of retreat, but how to do it? Ruth Haley Barton shows us how.
Now, this isn’t the kind of book I would typically go for. But it turned out to be one of the most helpful things I’ve read this year. In this short, intensely practical book, the author shows us how we can respond to God’s invitation to find our rest in him. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of yourself and how to receive the strength and comfort of God.
Pula Mokoena – God First Braam, South Africa
Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
Some background is that Godfirst Braam is still in its infant years. We are looking to God for leaders as we feel we are positioned in a part of Johannesburg where we have the ability to raise and send church planters and leaders into all parts of South Africa and beyond.
In this book Thabiti deals well with, not just the desire to raise and release leaders which all church leaders have, but modeling and cultivating this culture in the local church; asking the right questions and walking side by side with those who feel called to take on this massive task.
Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons is helpful and practical, a gem that is bound to infuse courage and inspire any church planter and church leader whose hands it ends up in.
Owen Cottom – Grace Church Cardiff, Wales
Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortlund
How familiar are you with how God feels about you? In my experience, one thing that gets painfully crowded out by the ruthless demands of life and ministry is a present, daily experience of how loved I am in Christ.
This is the journey that “Gentle and Lowly” invites us on – a journey into gaining a deeper appreciation of how much we mean to Jesus Christ. Drawing from both scripture and the writings of the Puritans, Ortlund invites us to enter into the holiest place – the very heart of God. What we find there is stunning and life-changing; “His heart is not a ticking time bomb; His heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of His presence and comfort, whatever our spiritual accomplishments”.
This is not a book of how-to’s or quick fixes. It is a book that helps us come to terms with the frailty of our humanity and the immensity of God’s mercy.
Greg Heasley – Covenant Grace Church, South Africa
Kingdom Prologue, by Meredith G Kline
Preaching Christ (the gospel) from the Old Testament remains a glorious challenge. We can’t ignore the original audience and context, but we also dare not disregard Christ’s declaration that everything written there is about Him (Lk 24:27, 44).
Kingdom Prologue (subtitled: ‘Genesis foundations for a covenantal worldview’) is a masterpiece on Biblical theology; it has helped me immensely to connect the ‘covenantal dots’ and thread the ‘gospel needle’ through all the various OT covenants, stories and types. If you want to point to Christ with clarity while avoiding over-spiritualizing or moralizing the OT, then this is a must read! (A more condensed and accessible read is Kline’s other brilliant book – God, Heaven and Har Magedon)
More about Meredith Kline.