Some of Our Favorite Books of 2017

We believe that to lead others well, you need to commit to reading, both widely and deeply.

So we asked our team to give us a few favorite books from 2017, and we’ve got a list below, in no particular order. (These aren’t necessarily books that were released in 2017, just books we happened to read this past year.)

OK, enjoy this list of a few of our favorite books of 2017!

The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege

The Myth of EqualityThe Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege, by Ken Wytsma

Inequality and privilege are real. The Myth of Equality opens our eyes to realities we may have never realized were present in our society and world. And we will be changed for the better as a result.

Ken helps us come to a deeper understanding of both the origins of these issues and the reconciling role we are called to play as ministers of the gospel.

Crucifixion of the Warrior God

Crucifixion of the Warrior Godby Greg Boyd

I’ve only read volume 1 so far, but this is an excellent resource that reframes depictions of God acting violently in light of God’s definitive revelation of Jesus on the cross.

Greg reframes how we understand troubling biblical texts without dismissing them as uninspired or somehow synthesizing them in a way that compromises the God revealed in Jesus.

This book helped me more fully understand that God is Christlike and there really is no un-Christlikeness in him at all.

Also check out Greg’s less academic version: Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence

Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities

Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communitiesby Dan White Jr & JR Woodward

JR Woodward and Dan White Jr. masterfully weave together missional theology and practice into a seamless field guide. Chock-full of wisdom and insight, not a single page of my copy remains unmarked. I found myself constantly reaching for my highlighter and writing in the margins.

This book will take courage to read. This book unapologetically disrupts and dismantles traditional ecclesiological frameworks. The ‘church as industrial complex’ is thoroughly deconstructed. But, in its place, a robust missional ecclesiology takes shape with ready to implement tools and practices to support local mission. But the tools and practices aren’t the primary focus.

This book will challenge you to be the right kind of leader to whom such tools and practices can be entrusted. It will challenge your character, elevate your competency, and increase your capacity as a leader.

Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America

Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, edited by Darrel Guder and George Hunsberger

This one’s an old one: in 2018 it will be the 20 years old. This is the book that pretty much got all this “missional” talk started.

Someone on our team recently re-read it and was astounded at its cultural exegesis, theological clarity, and practical implications for leadership within the local church. This book is still both prophetic and practical.

Worth a read, especially if you’ve never read it.

White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White

White AwakeWhite Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be Whiteby Daniel Hill

I’m still working through this book right now, but finding it very instructive. I grew up in an almost exclusively white community just outside of Minneapolis. As such, I’ve often felt both insulated and uninformed when it comes to the unignorable racial tensions within our cultural context.

This book is providing me with greater perspective and an imagination for being an agent of reconciliation.

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Falling UpwardFalling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr

This book felt like a roadmap with a big arrow on it saying, “You are here.”

Offering a new view of how spiritual growth happens, Rohr helps readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life: the first half being to find your identity, your significance; what he calls “the creating of the container.”

The second half being about the contents in the container. This is when questions arise like, “What is this all for? What am I supposed to do with this? Is there some deeper purpose?”

Psalms of Lament

Psalms of LamentPsalms of Lament, by Ann Weems

Most of us are unsure how to grieve or lament well, which allows us to embrace sadness and move towards healing. This book will help.

After her son was killed in a car accident, Ann wrote personal psalms of lament to give voice to the grief and anguish she felt. Her words will deeply move anyone who has mourned.

They echo the psalms of the Bible beginning in painful petition, proceeding through anger and helplessness, and concluding in trust in the Lord who brings all hope.

Emboldened: A Vision For Empowering Women in Ministry

EmboldendedEmboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry, by Tara Beth Leach

The church cannot reach its full potential without women using their God-given gifts. Tara Beth provides practical expertise for how women can find their place at the table, escape imposter syndrome, face opposition, mentor others, and much more.

Women who read this book will be inspired to use their gifts to edify the body of Christ and advance the kingdom of God. Men who read it will be inspired to embolden the women in their midst.

Also, if you’re interested in exploring the more theological side of women and men in leadership in the church, check out Sarah Sumner’s Men and Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

The Shepherd's LifeThe Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, by James Rebanks

Many memoirs are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay.

The story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, modern dispatches from an ancient landscape that describe a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped the landscape over time.

In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd’s year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost.

The Day  the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion

The Day the Revolution BeganThe Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion, by N.T. Wright

N. T. Wright once again uses a robust knowledge of Scripture to challenge commonly held Christian beliefs.

He argues that Jesus’ death on the cross was not only to absolve us of our sins; it was actually the beginning of a revolution commissioning the Christian faithful to a new vocation—a royal priesthood responsible for restoring and reconciling all of God’s creation.

Christianity is not just about “going to the good place when you die,” it’s about participating in the greatest, truest revolution the world has ever seen.

How about you? What are some of your favorite books of 2017? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.

This work by Gravity Commons is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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  1. Werner on December 28, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Interesting list of books you have posted Ben.I have bought myself a standard version of the English Bible to compare it with my afrikaans Bible which is in my mother tongue/language.To scrutinise it is quite an experience for me, and more or less the same.The difficult words, I have to look up in the dictionary, but enjoying it.The Bible remains the top selling book in the world, according articles I have red in the past.
    Blessings for 2018.

  2. Ben Sternke on December 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Blessings, Werner!

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