Favorite Books of 2011

Every year I list out my favorite books of the year. This year, my goal was to read 50 books and I’m happy to say I did it. For me, one of the ways I relax is reading. I’ve also learned that when it comes to being a great leader and communicator, you have to read. In case you are curious about years past favorites, you can check out my favorite books from 2009 and 2010.

What makes this list different from the music list is that I had to read the book in 2011, it didn’t have to be published in that year. To make this list, I look for books that challenged my thinking and are shaping me as a man, father, husband, leader, pastor and communicator.

Here they are (in no particular order):

  • Rumors of God by Jon Tyson & Darren Whitehead. This book looked at how God is moving in our world and how to see evidences of God’s hand and how faith is playing out in our world. This was a book that didn’t have a lot of things to take from it, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed and found myself feeling really encouraged at the end. Here is my review.
  • What Good is God?: In Search of a Faith that Matters by Philip Yancey. Very similar to Rumors of God, but different enough to make it worth reading. Yancey shares 10 stories from 10 trips he took around the world. After telling the story of seeing pain, tragedy, suffering and faith, he shares the sermon he gave at that place. A great, great book. Here is my review.
  • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo. I’ve become a big fan of Apple and Steve Jobs over the last few years. This book is a great look at what made Jobs a great communicator. This has huge implications for pastors. Here is my review.
  • Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker. Don’t read this book unless you want to be convicted and see God challenge you to go to new places when it comes to how you think about money and the world around you. I read this book in 1 evening, it was that good and found myself having to repent of several things in my heart. Here is my review.
  • Great by Choice by Jim Collins. Jim Collins is another author that if he writes it, I’ll read it. So much research, so much for leaders to learn. While this book was not as good as Good to Great, it was a close second. Here is my review.
  • A Work of Heart: How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal. If Reggie McNeal will write it, I’ll read it. This book, though a few years old, had so much in it. I remember reading this book at the beginning of the year and finding myself highlighting almost every line. Quite possibly the best book I read all year. Here is my review.
  • The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Rest is not something I always do well. Sabbath has a lot of meanings, I have young kids, life is busy and the excuses mount up. If you are looking to be challenged and move towards more rest in your life and enjoying the presence of God, this is a great book to read. Here is my review.
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I wanted to read this before seeing the movie. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but the book was awesome. Great look at some of the science of baseball, and a fascinating story of one man and one franchise. If you are a baseball fan, you should definitely read this book. Here is my review.
  • On the Verge by Alan Hirsch & Dave Ferguson. A great look at what is ahead for church leaders and how they move forward to have an impact for the gospel. This is one of those books that every pastor who wants to see their church make an impact needs to read. Here is my review.

Reading 50 Books in 2011

I am halfway through 2011 (and so are the rest of you). One of my goals this year was to read 50 books, I figured since I’m halfway through the year, I’d share with you my progress in case you’ve missed some of my thoughts on these books. As I’ve said before, what I love about looking back on the reading I’ve done, I can see how God has worked in my life and shaped my thinking. So, here goes. They are in order of reading:

  1. Missional Community Life by Porterbrook Network
  2. Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon
  3. Exponential: How You and Your Friends can Start a Missional Church Movement by Dave & Jon Ferguson
  4. Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father by Dan Cruver
  5. Gospel Change by Porterbrook Network
  6. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just by Timothy Keller
  7. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath
  8. On the Old Testament (A Book You’ll Actually Read) by Mark Driscoll
  9. The Message of the Old Testament:  Promises Made by Mark Dever
  10. Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell & the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell
  11. Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal
  12. A Work of Heart: How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal
  13. The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
  14. Five Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them by Charles Stone
  15.  The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
  16. Wrestling an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability, and the Lessons of Grace by Greg Lucas
  17. The Drama of Scripture by Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew
  18. Speak Like a CEO by Suzanne Bates
  19. How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins
  20. Redemption: How Jesus Frees from the Idols we Worship and the Wounds we Carry by Mike Wilkerson
  21. The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan
  22. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  23. On the Verge by Dave Ferguson & Alan Hirsch


While Katie and I were on the Acts 29 Lead pastor retreat, I read Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball which is the story of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s. What Lewis looks at is why does the team with the second lowest payroll in baseball win more games than any other team in baseball.

The book is a fascinating story of the A’s, but also of Beane. What Beane did was find stats that no other GM in baseball thought were important and evaluated players based on those stats. He couldn’t afford the best home run hitters or rbi machines, so, he looked for players who could get on base, that was the most important stat for him.

Now that other GM’s have read this book and started to do what Beane did, he now looks for something different. He looks for the thing that is being undervalued in the market and buys that. So, if one year defense is being undervalued, he drafts players that play better defense than anyone.

To win in business or leadership, you have to look for things others aren’t looking for and buy that. Things that are valuable and helpful.

Recently, as Revolution has grown and joined Acts 29 we are starting to get calls and emails from pastors all over the country asking if we are hiring. Our answer has become, “Move to Tucson, start attending Revolution, get a job somewhere in Tucson and we will see what happens.” This shows us what we are looking for, do you feel called to Tucson and Revolution more than you feel called to get a paycheck. I can pay anyone to work at Revolution, I want people who are dying to be here and are willing to do it for free. That was something a mentor told me to decide if you felt called to ministry or to a particular church, would you do it for free?

This means, sometimes you pass up the more talented or experienced or flashier leaders, but you get the ones who want to be here.

On top of the book just being a great summer read, they are making a movie out of it which comes out in September.

Sunday Night Mind Dump…

  • Such a nice feeling right now
  • Katie and I got to spend the week away from our kids in beautiful Vail, CO with over 200 Acts 29 lead pastor’s and their wives
  • It was awesome
  • Love connecting with leaders from all over the world
  • And more importantly, getting away with my wife
  • If you don’t get away without kids at least once a year with your spouse, you need to start
  • So worth it
  • Last night was an odd night for us
  • We didn’t attend Revolution
  • The elders are very generous by giving me 4 Saturday’s a year where I am expected to take a break from Revolution, so last night was one of them
  • Heard great things about the message our new Pastor of Community & Care, Mike Miller gave
  • Can’t wait to hear it
  • So excited about this coming Saturday and our one gathering @ 4:15 followed by a picnic and baptism
  • I’ll be preaching on one of the greatest stories in the Old Testament, the book of Hosea
  • Many of you have been asking about the next chapter in the life of Revolution as I’ve been dropping hints for the last few months
  • In a few weeks, we will have a special vision casting night in the middle of the week to share what it ahead for our church and how we will get there and what the Spirit is telling us as leaders and how you can be a part of that
  • Stay tuned for details
  • Just confirmed this week that Jeff Vanderstelt from Soma Communities will be with us to preach on October 22nd
  • So excited about my friendship with Jeff and our potential partnership with Soma in the future
  • I believe God will do some big things in Tucson because of this
  • Read a great summer book while I was away last week, Moneyball, perfect book for summer
  • I’m heading back to relaxing in the heat