Best Books of 2015

There are far too many books published every year for a single person to read them all, and those involved in pastoral ministry have limited time. So, here at SOPC we thought to give you some recommendations from our area pastors on the best books from this year to check out. This may help to narrow your list of potential reads.

1. Same Sex Attraction and the Church by Ed Shaw

Shaw’s book is the best work I’ve read on this subject. He not only provides a framework for thinking about how we can respond to and encourage SSA brothers and sisters in our church, but he also gives us lots of practical counsel. He utilizes his own personal experiences as illustrations, and challenges some of the deeply ingrained practices of the church that must be addressed to serve our brothers and sisters better. While holding onto a conservative Christian sexual ethic, he challenges the contemporary church to grow in this area. I LOVED this book.

David Dunham is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Counseling at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, MI.

2. The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership by Jenni Catron

Jenni walks through leadership using the lens of Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul. While a practical resource, this book resonated with me while also challenging me to take a more in-depth assessment of how I lead.

Matt Kysor is Executive Pastor at Centerpoint Church in Chillicothe, OH.

3. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore

At a time when Biblical cultural engagement is arguably more needed than ever before, my favorite book of 2015 is like a gospel-centered breath of fresh air. This is a much-needed 21st century exhortation to the church, reminding us of our great responsibility to engage the culture around us with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom we have a tremendous opportunity to provide a powerful, unchanging message to an ever-changing world that desperately needs the gospel of our King. If you didn’t read Onward in 2015, I strongly recommend you add it to your reading list for the New Year.

Kevin Hay is Pastor at Grace Community Church in Portsmouth, OH.

4. The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne

Not a 2015 release, but this book is a refreshing reminder that the goal of all of our ministry endeavors is to make and mature disciples that make much of Christ and reproduce their lives in the lives of others. Too many times we can be ruled by the tyranny of the urgent and simply upholding programs rather than focusing on building people. The focus of this book is beautifully simple and yet surprisingly elusive in the busyness of ministry life. It calls us to “make a conscious shift – away from erecting and maintaining ministry structures, and towards growing people who are disciple-making disciples of Christ.” I found this read very refreshing, encouraging, and practical.

Aaron Cook is Director of Discipleship at Cedarville University, and a worship leader at Grace Baptist Church. He and his wife Laurie, and their four children, live in Cedarville, OH.

5. Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

I have traveled and preached on depression nearly a dozen times this year. It seemed that Eswine connected me with Charles Spurgeon in a unique way to move through the fog and darkness of the soul. The Holy Spirit used pastor Spurgeon as a helpful guide into the light of the gospel.

Nick Nye is the founder and lead pastor of Veritas Community Church. Nick lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, Brittany, and four children, Viola, Charlotte, Simone, and Elliott.

6. Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by JD Greear

This book is without a doubt the best book that I laid my hands on in 2015. All too often we shelve the central truths of our faith in favor of more obscure, “higher level,” doctrine and theology but Greear will have none of that. This book goes straight to the heart and reminds us that we are freely accepted by God through the finished work of Jesus Christ and then expounds on the myriad ways this should impact our lives. In an evangelical culture that tends to gravitate toward raw moralism and legalism, this book is a solid reminder that when Jesus said “It is finished” he meant it.

David Dowdy is pastor at Revolution Church in Portsmouth, OH.

7. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God by G.K. Beale

This volume is found within the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series which is edited by D.A. Carson. Beale’s objective is to trace the theme of the temple through the whole of Scripture to demonstrate that the Old Testament temple actually pointed towards the eschatological reality that God’s presence would extend throughout the entire cosmos. Ultimately, however, God’s residence in the temple of the Old Testament was a picture that is fulfilled in Revelation 21 as God dwells in the midst of His covenant people. This particular work helped me to understand the biblical-theological significance of what it means to understand that God dwells with His people, to say that God is with us. Also, this volume is helpful for seeing the organic unity which exists between the Old and New Testaments concerning this essentially and edifying topic. While this work can be a bit dense at times, I strongly recommend it to any Christian that is serious about understanding God’s Word.

Dylan Rowland is an instructor in Philosophy at Shawnee State University, History and Christian Apologetics at Pike Christian Academy, and President of The Southern Ohio Pastors’ Coalition.

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