It’s that time of year again – more heat, more daylight hours, and (hopefully) a little more time for relaxation. We’re under no illusion that ministry slows down over the summer, but we do think this time of year calls for some time off. Whether you have grand plans to road trip with your family or you’ll be spending vacation hours doing long-delayed house projects, grab one of these great books to keep you company.

And if you want even more book suggestions, check out last year’s Summer Reading Guide.

We know recommendations can be tricky because all of us, even within the EFCA, don’t agree on everything outside of our statement of faith. Our Summer Reading Guides are populated by EFCA East staff and blog contributors so selections reflect each individuals’ tastes and preferences. We encourage everyone to use discernment anytime they pick something up – holding all literature, no matter what the writing or occasion – up against the truth of God’s Word.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Read any good books lately? Drop them in the comments so we can all add to our Summer TBRs.

Kingdom First: Starting Churches That Shape Movements by Jeff Christopherson and Mac Lake

In addition to practical guidance on the subject of church planting, Christopherson and Lake call us to embrace a focus on the Kingdom that goes far beyond our own churches, networks, and denominations. The quote that affected me the most from this book was, “If you love the harvest, you will love other harvesters. If you are jealous of other harvesters, you simply don’t love the harvest.” This is a clarion call for Kingdom collaboration and it is desperately needed in our current climate. – John Welborn, Lead Pastor of Salem Church

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek

I picked up this book in an airport on my way to Minneapolis. At that point I had never heard of the book or its author, Simon Sinek. While this is in no way a Christian book, and I have no idea what Sinek’s personal beliefs are, I will say that I was not able to put it down. Since then, I have read it a number of times. Its well-worn pages are filled with pen marks and notes. This is a leadership/entrepreneurial book that centers around the premise of “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” It is easy when leading a church or ministry to allow our focus to drift to what we do. When the “why” is what really matters. Your people aren’t motivated by your programing. They are motivated by the mission. – Josh Ott, EFCA East Strategy Specialist and Lead Pastor of Grace Free Church

A Contrarians Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality For The Rest of Us by Larry Osborne

Have you ever looked at other Christians and read books about spiritual disciplines and just felt like you would never be able to measure up? Like your internal wiring just doesn’t work that way? At last a book that is written for “the rest of us”! In full disclosure, I’m still reading this one, but it’s already become one of my favorite Christian books ever… We all function differently in human relationships, so why do we expect a “one size fits all” approach to work when it comes to our relationship with God? If you’ve grown weary of feeling like you have a good, positive relationship with God, just to be told in books and podcasts that you’re “doing it the wrong way,” this book may just be the breath of fresh air you’ve been longing for!  – Ryan Bailey, Worship Leader at Mountain View Community Church

Synapse by Steven James

This is a science fiction thriller by one of my favorite authors. The story is set in the not-too-distant future and revolves around a female minister who loses her long-awaited child shortly after childbirth. The narrative around that is a compelling exploration of earnest questioning, complicated even more by the gift from her brother of an “artificial”– a robot with advanced thinking and reasoning skills (AI) that is virtually indistinguishable from a human being. The plot moves forward infused with internal and external dialogue that deftly addresses faith in the midst of suffering, as well as the nature of the soul and what it means to be human. It is a great, fast paced story with a thought-provoking backdrop and a sad but satisfying ending. – John Nesbitt, EFCA East Operations Director 

Kaleidoscope Kids Bibles: Kids Bibles Reimagined

I discovered these single volume books of the Bible geared toward elementary kids a couple months ago and I’m such a big fan. They are beautifully illustrated and bridge the gap between more of a storybook rendering of the Bible and traditional adult translations. We recently read Over The River: The Story of Joshua as a family and I appreciated that the text wasn’t just a highlight reel of the story. The author goes chapter by chapter, presenting the biblical narrative in an age appropriate way that honors a child’s capacity to digest hard things and allows them to sit with questions. These are such great resources for home and church. I’ve also really enjoyed following Kaleidoscope on Instagram (run by the founder, Chris Ammen, who is a kids pastor himself) for thought-provoking ministry/parenting content.  – Emily Gardner, EFCA East Communications Director

The Truth In Both Extremes: Paradox in Biblical Revelation by Robert S. Rayburn

An interesting and challenging look at the use of paradoxical language in the scriptures. The Truth In Both Extremes is NOT an attempt to find “balance” in those non-essential areas that tend to divide the finest of theologians, but instead it is an invitation to embrace the truth that is often times found in both extremes … without compromise nor an attempt to reconcile appropriate tensions. A great read indeed. – Tony Balsamo, EFCA East District Superintendent and Lead Pastor of Integrity Church

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

Comer’s book is a much-needed application of the Gospel’s truths to modern society. He helps us see that hurry and love are oil and water and that our Americanized version of church has missed the greater joy of knowing God. He warns us about losing our ability to contemplate and offers us a 10-question guide to diagnosing the disease of hurry sickness. He prods, “We hear the refrain ‘I’m great, just busy’ so often that we assume pathological busyness is just okay.” Many writers have covered the subjects of spiritual disciplines and busyness; Comer does something ingenious by addressing them cohesively from a fresh perspective. It’s a needed challenge for Christians who want to follow Jesus against the grain of the hyper-full American schedule. – Matt Saxinger, Lead Pastor of Susquehanna Valley Church

The Solo Pastor by Gary L. McIntosh

There are a lot of pastors who are currently pastoring in a church alone. If that’s you, many challenges associated with being a solo pastor can be discouraging. I find this book to be insightful in helping pastors who pastor solo to find practical insights in living out those daily challenges. – Randy Hunt, EFCA East Pastor Support Associate and Pastoral Care Coordinator at LEFC

Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools by Tyler Staton

This resource addresses the barriers that we often face in prayer. Through biblical teaching, historical practices, and telling stories, Staton invites the reader to engage in prayer in open, authentic, and vulnerable ways.  – Deb Hinkel, Director of Spiritual Formation at Hershey Free Church

The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality by Glen Scrivener

Scrivener has a ceaseless drive to share the gospel. As the director of Speak Life, UK, Scrivener looks for modern ways of presenting the gospel in a post-Christian era. This book adds to his effort as it explains to a secular world how Christianity’s positive impact is all around us and “in the air we breathe.” Scrivener engagingly explains not only the impact of biblical truth in the western world, but the great contrast of life before the church’s influence and the Bible’s spread. He discusses how we all came to believe in freedom, kindness, progress and equality. This book raises the confidence of the believer and serves as an apologetic for the skeptical. It also makes the reader more grateful for what we read in Acts 17:26 – “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” – Paulo Freire, EFCA East Credentialing Specialist and Pastor of Hope Church

Anointed to be God’s Servants: Lessons from the Life of Paul and his Companions by Henry Blackaby & Tom Blackaby

As called and gifted leaders, it’s very easy for us to, “go it alone,” – and to even think there’s something heroic about doing it this way. Thus, in the midst of faithfully serving His Church, we can miss out on the faithful companions God has sent us to help carry the load. In reality, there are men and women just as called, just as faithful and just as gifted as we are, positioned to assist in Kingdom work. God has strategically placed them in our paths so that we may be a lifelong blessing to one another. In this book, the Blackaby’s explain how God deliberately designed His people to be interdependent – and that every one of us plays a crucial role in partnership with each other in furthering the Kingdom. I hope this book inspires you, as it has motivated me, to never do Kingdom work alone and to always be on watch for God-assigned Kingdom companions. – Cedrick Brown, EFCA East District Superintendent and Lead Pastor of Commitment Community Church

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Emily Gardner

Communications Director at EFCA East
Emily has been the Communications Director here at EFCA East since 2016. She got her start in social media managing the accounts for The Donut Man, an amazing donut shop in Southern California. She lives in upstate NY with her pastor husband and two kiddos. In the summer, you'll most likely find them checking off another high peak in the Adirondacks.

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1 Comment

  1. Eva Kroeze on June 2, 2023 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for compiling this annotated list of great reads! I appreciate the recommendations. We need to be not only -and primarily- people of The
    Book, but also widely read thinkers to sharpen our perspective. I look forward to adding some of these titles I have not read to my own list.

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