No that’s not my dungeon library but yeah I do have way too many stacks of trees neatly decorated with ideas and cover art. Here are some recent additions that have been spurring on thought, imagination, and spiritual growth in my life. 

The Lord & His Prayer by NT Wright

My wife and I have been reading this short little book together at night for our couples devo time. Wright composes beautifully, mixing biblical scholarship with pastoral applications throughout it. Several of his suggests have been very intriguing like looking at the Lord’s Prayer as not just a model for our prayers but the pattern of Jesus own life. Wright reads the prayer in light of Jesus main message in the gospels – the Kingdom of God; and in light of Israel’s desire to return from exile by receiving the forgiveness of their sins.  

The Church in the Power of the Spirit by Jurgen Moltmann

For a long time I’ve wanted to pick up Moltmann’s works and move through them. I was first introduced to his ideas through Richard Bauckham a very prominent NT scholar. Veli-Matti Karkainnen’s Introduction to Ecclesiology was the tipping point for me. He summarizes Moltmann’s contribution to ecclesiology in terms of eschatology, the Trinity, and the Spirit. So far I’ve found Moltmann difficult to read but rewarding. In fact he even saw the whole missional church conversation coming a long time ago. Anybody who wants to give concerted attention to the Trinity, the Spirit, and eschatology as they relate to the doctrine of the church is well worth the work reading them. Heads up though, Moltmann was a Tubingen professor and he uses buzz phrases that meant something particular to his Continental conversation partners but are hard to follow for stateside readers.

Cities of God: The real story of how Christianity became an urban movement and conquered Rome by Rodney Stark 

I’m totally loving Stark’s argument in this book. Basically he says that the Christian movement grew because of its use of cities and major trade routes. And points out several important details about what drew and changed people in the early church. I’ll give you a hint he says it wasn’t mainly the doctrine but the community that was being transformed by the doctrine that was attractive to new comers. If you have a passion for urban missions you’ve got to read this one, and if you don’t beware because this may flip your desires after reading it!

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

The lead pastor of City Church in Philadelphia, Tuck Bartholomew, suggested I pick this one up. I’m totally enjoying it. I’m almost done with it and I’ll post a one-post review of it soon. For anyone who has a desire to create new things and have them received well you want to read this book. Its Entrepreneurship for dummies. 

The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch

I know what you’re thinking, what? Sets ‘N’ Service hasn’t read Hirsch’s book yet? Yeah I hear you but listen I’ve read sections of it in the past but never cover to cover. Hirsch is always insightful, always provocative, and always challenging. I’m about 70 pages into the book and I’m already surprised by what I’m finding. At times some of my ministry practices get taken to the canvas by him and at times some of them get expanded and deepened, and ever so often I find myself saying come on brotha that’s an oversimplification. If you don’t know what the whole missional church conversation is about then this is a book you want to pick up. Its filled with stories as well as practicional advice. Hirsch and Frost have a few books out that have become the standard reads for planters working with postmodern and postChristian contexts: like this one, and this one. By the way they also have a handbook for the Forgotten Ways here.  

Jesus Remembered by James Dunn

A friend of mine in graduate studies at the Jewish University in NYC has been raving about Dunn’s first volume in his Christianity in the Making series for a while now. He finally got me to take the time out and read through it. I’m not done but let me tell you Dunn’s chapters on “The Kingdom of God” and “Discipleship” are alone worth the hefty price of the book.

(Btw those that I didn’t already have in this list I got used at Amazon or as gifts for Christmas. Its the way to go on a tight budget).