Outside of the Bible and what’s been made available by you guys (bridgebox, your blogs, the podcast, etc), are there any books or other material that you would recommend for someone who is looking to grow in their faith? It seems like a lot of best seller books mean well in trying to help you out and keep you from getting yourself in over your head while living a Christian life, but how do I find something that’s reliable and applicable without Kissing Things Goodbye or buying into SOUL TIES?
This is a really cool question. You are totally right in your inkling that a lot of the stuff you find on Christian bookstore shelves is not there because it will help you move forward in your walk, it is there because it will sell. That doesn’t make it categorically bad, but it means that most of it is meant to appeal to the widest audience possible. Much of it looks to cast a net that is a mile wide, but only an inch deep. Marketing budget does not equate to quality.
Don’t fret though, there is a lot of good stuff out there, you just have to look a little harder to find it. So here are some suggestions of books and authors that I have personally found helpful. It is by no means an exhaustive list.
Oswald Chambers– his book My Utmost for His Highest is one of the most popular devotionals in history. There is a daily one page reflective reading.
Charles Spurgeon– A nineteenth century London pastor and one of the most prolific preachers ever. You can get books, collections of his sermons, and a great devotional called Morning by Morning.
Philip Yancey– A former editor of Campus Life magazine, and one of the best selling Christian authors ever. His books What’s So Amazing About Grace, and The Jesus I Never Knew are great examinations of foundational Christian concepts.
Timothy Keller– A pastor in New York City. He has some of the most accessible writing about theological concepts.
Mike Mason– has a great book about living a joyful life called Champagne for the Soul. He also wrote an amazing book about marriage called The Mystery of Marriage.
Donald Miller– has some fantastic memoirs called Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What that are honest and engaging.
Eugene Peterson– the pastor and scholar who translated The Message version of the Bible. His book Eat This Book is a really good look at how to approach scripture.
Frederick Buechner– a Presbyterian pastor and Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is easily my favorite author, so much so that at times my twitter feed is at risk of turning into nothing but an avalanche of quotes. His writing is not the most accessible, but it is worth the effort. His book The Alphabet of Grace is a great place to start.
Let’s take a quick look at other media. Unfortunately the Christian podcasting industry hasn’t really taken off yet to my knowledge. Say That cohost, super-blogger, and my great friend Lee Younger produces two great podcasts. The WaterTower is a kind of digital worship service, featuring great worship tunes and mini-sermons from Tom Job, my pastor and a fantastic thinker and preacher. Ancient and New is a discussion about the Bible. Season one took a look at 1 Corinthians 13. Also, The Bridge will be starting a new podcast launching on August 5, 2013.
Lee also makes awesome music you can find at leeyounger.com. Some other songwriters who have meant a ton to me are Eric Peters, Andrew Peterson, and Andy Gullahorn (I am leaving out so many), they all right beautiful, honest songs about the joy, struggle, and occasional absurdities of living life with our Lord.
There are people who are making and have made (many of the authors listed are from before the modern era of the celebrity mega church pastor) art that’s goal is to minister to you and help you get closer to the Lord. You have to fire up your discernment to find it, but the rewards are plentiful.
-Matt from The Bridge