Influential Books

Having a deep passion for reading has allowed me to consume exceptional books over that past few years. Ranging from academia, ministry, leadership, and personal growth, these books have all influenced my life through the challenge provided within their pages. Yet, three have transformed the way I live: The Selfless Way of Christ, Crazy Love, and The Millennials.

The first book that I will discuss is The Millennials by Thom and Jess Rainer.[1] This book provides analysis for the millennial generation, individuals born between 1980 and 2000. The reason this book has such an influence on me is because they are the largest generation in US history and are the generation that I will have the privilege to lead into the future as a pastor. This book explored the impact of this generation on everything including family, diversity, work, money, media, and religion. This generation is quickly becoming the least churched generation (85% are outsiders) in US history and we must motivate ourselves (the church) to begin reaching them on their terms and with methodologies that will truly inspire this generation.[2] One of the main methods of inspiring this generation is through social justice. By connecting to the community through demonstrating real concern for others by living with deep, meaningful devotion to Christ, we can begin to inspire this generation to move toward a relationship with Christ and not away from the church as they going.

The second book that I would like to discuss having influenced my life and ministry is Crazy Love by Francis Chan. In seeking a manner to minister to the millennial generation, I found Crazy Love to be exactly what the Millennials are looking for in a deep meaningful devotion to Christ. There are very few individual Christians that are able to live the lifestyle exemplified in the pages of Crazy Love, but if we are able to the millennial generation will be able to observe the life of Christ lived out before them. One of the major areas that Millennials hold against Christians is that we are hypocritical; our lives do not match the way we say we are supposed to live.[3] Therefore, we must radically transform the way we live our lives. In order to accomplish this Francis Chan challenges the reader to face the inconsistencies of their life, examine what they truly believe in and about scripture, and to then surrender everything we are (or hope to be) in obedience to Christ. By accomplishing these, we will begin to live the Christian life before the eyes of the millennial generation.

The third book that has influenced my life is The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen. In this book, Nouwen explores the concept of downward mobility and its influence of the Christians life. Downward mobility is the manner in which Christ lived his life and as his disciples, we must continue to live within the realm a servant, dedicated to the ones we serve. As a method of evangelism, downward mobility provides the exact context Millennials are seeking and allows Christians to live out the life of Christ today. Nouwen writes “Yet, when we have carefully looked into the eyes of the poor, the oppressed, and the lowly, when we have paid humble attention to their ways of living, and when we have listened gently to their observations and perceptions, we might have already a glimpse of the truth Jesus spoke about. It is a glimpse of the “grace-healed eyes” of which Tertullian spoke.”[4] Social justice activism is the methodology that the millennial generation desires to take part in and we must use it to reach this lost generation.

Other books that I would add to this list include:
  • Plastic Jesus, Eric Sandras
  • UnChristian, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
  • A Public Faith, Miroslav Volf
  • Life and Holiness, Thomas Merton
  • Growing True Disciples, George Barna
  • Everything Must Change, Brian McLaren
  • God’s Politics, Jim Wallis

[1] Two other books that have influenced this area of my life are UnChristian, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, and Revolution, by George Barna

[2] Rainer, Thom S., and Jess W. Rainer. The Millennials. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2011.

[3] Chan, Francis. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008.

[4] Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2007.34.