At the beginning of January I committed to the Empty Shelf challenge. I wanted to do this because I value reading. It is important for my faith, leadership and general self-improvement. Over the last few years I have read hardly anything not religious or church leadership oriented, so the list reflects some of those changes. Some of my favorite books of the past have been historical or biographical. I am also reading more fiction, especially classic southern writers.
I hope this list and the quick reviews can help you in your life and leadership. Feel free to ask any questions about things.
1. The Two Minute Leader: Brian K Dodd. Brian is a friend and runs an amazing blog condensing leadership practices. His book is a super practical and accessible book.
2. What the Most Successful People Do On The Weekends: Laura Vanderkam. I struggle with patterns of Sabbath. I either go full tilt or marathon Netflix. This quick read really outlines the benefits of planning downtime. It sounds crazy…but it is great.
3. A Disruptive Faith: A.W.Tozer. Sadly, this book fell victim to many of the posthumos works of Tozer. I absolutely am crazy about a few others of his books (The Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy are amazing), but this wasn’t that great. It is a compilation, so it suffers from continuity.
4. Planting Missional Churches: Ed Stetzer. Although it is older, this book is hyper-practical for any stage of church leadership. The religious landscape of America has changed and Stetzer’s words are timely.
6. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is a notorious social media marketer and strategist. He shows the benefits of long practice and gives examples of good and bad social communication in our age.
7. Ten: Sean Gladding. Sean has profound Biblical wisdom he shares through a wonderful narrative style. This book tells a great story about the Ten Commandments.
8. Why Church Buildings Matter: Tim Cool. Have you every thought of the story your building tells? Whether it is new construction, major renovations or just weekly cleaning, our buildings are part of our mission.
9. Manage Your Day-to-day: 99u. I love anything 99u puts out. It is a great creative and productive resource for leaders. This is just one of their books on my list for this year. Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei, every chapter is written by an expert and is easily digestible.
10. Johnny Cash: Robert Hilburn. I have read plenty of Cash biographies (and the autobiographies). None tells this story better than this one. It is inspiring and humbling.
11. Bounty: Scott McKenzie and Kristine Miller. Church finances are something I didn’t learn about in seminary. This book explains 10 best practices of proactive financial management for people in ministry.
12. The Hyperlinked Life: Barna Frames. I am really excited about the Frames series. This book starts a conversation about how the internet and smart devices affect life in the 21st century. It has great infographics and information.
13. Empire of the Summer Moon: S.C.Gwynne. This book is a look at the Comanche Indians, their rise to supremacy in the American West and their eventual destruction by first the Spainish, then the Texans and finally the U.S. Military.
14. Maximize Your Potential: 99u. Another 99u resource, this book focuses on the practices of creative and entrepreneurial leaders.
15. Momentum For Life: Michael Slaughter. I am in a leadership group this year with Michael, so this is just the first of his books I will read this year. He outlines a 5 part strategy to keep you focused in Christ and at your highest level of living.
16. Sabbath As Resistance: Walter Brueggemann. I am preaching a series on Sabbath/Margin this spring. This was part of my research. Great book on the biblical idea of sabbath. The biggest thing I learned…? I really don’t like Brueggemann that much.
17. Dare to Dream: Michael Slaughter. I told you there would be several! This book talks about the importance and power of personal vision in everyone’s life. Great quick read. I’ll be referring to it for a long time.
18. Planting Fast-Growing Churches: Stephen Gray. This book focuses on the strategic design of getting a new church to 200 as quickly as possible. The book focuses on 200 as a mark of vitality and sustainability. The information is somewhat old, but the theory appears to still be sound.
19. Unleashing the Word: Adam Hamilton. Adam is another one of my leadership mentors this year, alongside Mike Slaughter. I will be reading several of his books. This one focuses on the craft of sermon preparation and sermon leadership. It was alright, a little dated, but offered timeless wisdom for the benefit of being creative and well planned.
20. Prayer: By Hans Urs von Balthasar. Balthasar was a 20th Century Catholic theologian. I have been chewing my way through this book on prayer for most of the year. It was an excellent read. He focused on the relationship between the incarnated word and contemplation.
21. Making Ideas Happen. Scott Belsky. Yet another great book from the 99u and Behance team. This one focuses on overcoming obstacles related to vision and reality. Great read.