So far in 2010 I’ve read 55 books.  Some good, some bad.  More good than bad.  Here are the best . . .

For improvement

  • Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

“A fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real.”  So begins Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations. “While we often tell ourselves we are softening the message so as not to hurt someone else’s feelings, we are really trying to protect ourselves.”  Ouch.  “Delivering a difficult message clearly, cleanly, and succinctly is essential.”  If you want to improve your communication skills, especially in challenging situations, this book is for you.

  • Effective Parenting In A Defective World by Chip Ingram.

I have a deep desire to be a good parent.  Sooo, I try to read a couple parenting books a year.  Most are full of platitudes that don’t seem as though the author lives in the real world.  Effective Parenting is filled with real-life stuff that will resonate with you as a parent. Ingram offers practical tips in a variety of areas of parenting.

  • Exploiting Chaos by Jeremy Gutsche.

When I was out at my Lifemapping session, Pete Richardson told me that I had to read this book.  Thank-you Pete!  I couldn’t put it down.  “Chaos is the uncertainty sparked by uncharted territory, economic recession, and bubbles of opportunity.”  Sound familiar?  Chaos is all about taking advantage of those “bubbles of opportunity.”

Specifically for church

  • A New Kind Of Christianity by Brian McClaren.

This is a tough read and will definitely shatter some glass.  What I love about McClaren (even though I don’t agree with all of his answers) is that he asks the right questions–questions that most of us are already asking.

  • And: The Gathered And The Scattered by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay.

Hugh and Matt have become friends of mine.  They’re leading a cutting edge church in Colorado.  In And they once again spur some provocative thinking about the church in America as well as give pragmatic instruction on how to make strategic shifts.

  • Launching Missional Communities by Alex Absalom and Mike Breen.

For the future of the church in the United States I think this is the single most important book out there.  It’s a field guide to launching missional communities.  I’m really happy to announce that one of the authors, Alex Absalom, is coming on staff with us on January 1st of 2011!  At RiverTree we believe completely in the direction that Alex and Mike see the church heading.

  • Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne.

I loved this book.  If you’re leading any organization through transitional sizes it’s a must read.  Osborne deals with staff issues, board issues and even the personal issues that leaders face through growth.  Larry has a proven record of many years of leading the church through a boatload of transition.

  • The Shaping Of Things To Come by Alan Hirsch.

Alan has become a very good friend of mine.  And I’m pleasantly surprised at how much his insights have shaped my Christology, missiology, ecclesiology.  Alan is laying the groundwork for the effectiveness of the future church in the United States and beyond.

The Christian Life

  • A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller.

Though I’m a fan of Donald Miller, I haven’t enjoyed any of his books as much as Blue Like Jazz . . . until A Million Miles.  A Million Miles challenges us to live a full life as followers of Jesus–a life filled with adventure.  I gave this one to our Elders at RiverTree.

  • Tattoos On The Heart by Greg Boyle.

This was hands down one of my favorite books of the year.  It’s one you will want to read more than once.  Boyle tells his story of working with some of the roughest gang members in LA while at the same time lacing “God wisdom” throughout.  Several people are receiving this as a gift from me this year.

  • Radical by David Platt.

Platt subtitles this book, “Taking back your faith from the American Dream.”  Radical is filled with thought provoking challenges, “The cost of nondiscipleship is profoundly greater for us than the cost of discipleship.  For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing him.” And, “The question, therefore, is not ‘Can we find God’s will?’ The questions is ‘Will we obey God’s will?'”

  • The Glorious Pursuit by Gary Thomas.

I love virtually everything that Gary Thomas has written.  Pursuit is no different.  A practical, but very thoughtful, guide to the practice of pursuing God.

  • Red Letters by Tom Davis.

Caring for children at risk is something that is very close to the heart of God.  Consequently, it’s a path that I want very close to my heart.  Davis exposes areas in our lives that I’ve traditionally found to be blind spots as well as explores opportunities for us to make a difference in the lives of kids around the world.

  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzerro.

This was definitely one of the most important books I read this year.  Scazzerro writes, “It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”  And, “Self-care is never a selfish act it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.”  As well as, “When we make it through the Wall, we no longer have a need to be well known or successful, but to do God’s will.”  Healthy Spirituality is filled with life-transforming insights.

Just for fun

  • Human Games by Suzanne Collins.

A young friend of mine recommended this book to me.  Thank-you!  Although written for young adults, people of every age will enjoy this futuristic world and the triumph of its young heroine. I read all three books in this trilogy.

  • South Of Broad by Pat Conroy.

Because I spend a lot of time in the South, I always enjoy Conroy’s themes.  South Of Broad is set in Charleston and is the journey of several friends as they grow up together facing normal and what I hope are very abnormal challenges together.

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Dragon is not for the faint of heart.  It contains some brutal scenes.  However, it is a book full of intrigue and passion.  Once again, I read all three books in this trilogy.

  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Several friends recommended that I read Atlas.  I kept putting it off because it is a literal tome of a book.  But when my wife read it and said, “Greg, you have to read this”–I listened.  An epic narrative about the economy of the United States, Atlas is also a commentary on how we choose to live our lives.

  • Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett.

I was surprised at how much this work of historical fiction impacted me.  Essentially Pillars is about the building of cathedrals in the middle ages.  At its core it’s a commentary on the church and both human corruption and triumph.