At LeaderWorks, we are all about helping church leaders do their work. To that end, we posted a new idea for helping your church give in the final month of the year: make a Christmas Wish List for your church!
Still, you deserve more than a lump of coal, so take a break and write your Christmas wish list. Some of these items are resources for ministry, but many are just a few of my favorite things from this year. Of course this isn’t exhaustive—leave comments with what’s on your list!
Here’s what I’ll be looking for under my tree:
Of course you have your own list of books already, but here are a few of my favorites from 2017 across all genres:
- Giving Up: How Giving to God Renews Hearts, Changes Minds, and Empowers Ministry by David Roseberry—Ok, ok, shameless plug, I know, but this is your personal kickstarter to creating a culture of generosity in the coming year.
- How to Think by Alan Jacobs—This is the most relevant, accessible commentary on the state of our present culture that I read this year. The implications of this practical, deeply-thoughtful guide are far-reaching—from our politics to our preaching. Read our review.
- Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren—Our fellow AnglicanPastor contributor’s bestselling book brings the sacred to bear on the ordinary, looking at the mundane moments of our days through the lens of liturgy. Watch my interview with Tish Harrison Warren.
- Practices of Love by Kyle David Bennett—When we get sloppy in our thinking, spiritual disciplines can become an individual self-improvement project. Bennett’s book is a great reminder that spiritual disciplines don’t just draw us closer to Jesus; they help us live faithfully with others. Read our review.
- Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger—Yes, this book is actually a couple of years old, but it’s the best book on Christian leadership I read this year. It’s a must-read for church leaders who are facing uncharted territory.
- The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch—In all his works, Crouch seems to articulate the unique challenges facing the church in our present cultural context. In this easy, grace-filled book, he addresses what will be the next formational challenge for all ministers: our technology habits. A great starting point for everyone. Read our review.
- Our Character at Work by Todd Hunter—What if you didn’t need to win? What if you didn’t need to get your way? Hunter’s new book lays out the path of servant leadership in the workplace. Learn how to cultivate a Christ-like, non-anxious presence in your work.
- The Good of Giving Up by Aaron Damiani—For evangelicals who are new to the seasons of the church, pastor Aaron Damiani provides a primer on Lent that’s theologically-rich, but accessible for all. A great starting place for folks in your church who are new to Lent. Watch my interview with Aaron.
- Reformation Anglicanism (Vol. 1)—This unique volume brings together voices from around the Anglican communion to discuss a vision for today’s global communion. It’s a work dedicated to a careful inspection of the history of the Anglican Church as it applies to our present context. Watch my interview with contributor John Yates III.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders—The first novel from the celebrated short story writer, the book is a surreal drama set in the cemetery on the night after the burial of Abraham Lincoln’s son. Taking Dante’s cue, Saunders’ book is at once difficult, hysterical, disturbing, and deadly serious.
- Joy: 100 Poems edited by Christopher Wiman—If you are looking for an entry point into modern and contemporary poetry, here’s your first stop. Wiman, a masterful poet himself, anthologizes poems that engage with the often difficult-to-pin-down topic of joy. His introduction alone is worth the price of admission.
- Recent Releases also on my list: Awaiting the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith (especially if it’s part of this beautiful boxed set) and The Theater of God’s Glory by W. David O. Taylor.
There are some extraordinary artists and craftspeople working right now. Here’s some of what’s on my radar:
- Modern Liturgic’s calendars—You’ve heard about these, right? Beautiful design, lovingly crafted, the Liturgical Year Circle Print can stay on your wall forever, or you can get a complete calendar for this year. They’ve also just created a ‘Saints Collection’.
- The Minimum Bible project may not be for everyone, but I love the simplistic design. The Church Year collection uses bright colors and plain symbols to illustrate the seasons. You can order them in print or buy them digitally to use how you wish.
- In 2011, Crossway published a gorgeously illuminated copy of the Gospels to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Renowned Christian artist Makoto Fujimura created all the artwork for this beautiful volume (the text is ESV). Could be a cherished item in your church or in your personal collection.
- While you are at it, check out more work from Makoto Fujimura—prints of his work are available at Saatchi Art.
- If you are in the market for other illuminated texts, take a look at the new ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition. The Saint John’s Bible is also excellent.
- Christ Church Plano just created a new, elegant resource for daily prayer.
- I have only just discovered the art of Phaedra Taylor, but it’s stunning and imaginative. Browse her work (she’s done liturgical projects for churches!) and check out prints.
- I have received many pens as gifts, but I’m most fond of what Will Hodges work at Tactile Turn. These made-in-Texas machined pens feature tiny grooves that create a unique grip. And they use easy-to-find, reliable refills. His newest creations, the Mover and Shaker, are sold out for now, but I also love the bolt-action Slider and Glider.
This year featured some excellent new music. Here were some of my favorite albums:
- Steadfast Live by Sandra McCracken—Beautiful worship music from the prolific artist. I’m particularly fond of the opening track, “Almighty God” that draws on the Collect for Purity.
- Through the Water by Rob Patterson—This Anglican priest released a great EP of contemporary liturgical music. Can’t wait to hear more from Rob. Watch an interview with him.
- Edenland by Liturgical Folk—Speaking of liturgical music, check out the second album from this collaborative partnership between a retired priest and a young worship leader. Table Settings was an elegant rendering of the Eucharistic texts, but Edenland expands into new, creative hymns. (By the way, Sandra McCracken helped produce both albums.)
- Bright Hopes! by Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings—Wow, I’m glad I found out about this album and this strange musical community. The worship team from Jacob’s Well, a church in Kansas City, brought together 50 people over three years to create this eclectic, layered, worshipful album. I loved listening to it during Easter.
- Gathering by Josh Ritter—Maybe the best American folk singer since Dylan, Ritter followed up 2015’s Sermon on the Rocks with an album that shows his continued mastery. Known for his lyrical genius, Ritter’s most impactful track on this album was the surprisingly simple “When Will I Be Changed.”
- True Sadness by The Avett Brothers—Fine, this came out in June 2016, but ever since James K.A. Smith brought these guys to my attention, I can’t get enough. The title track and “No Hard Feelings” blow me away.