The books in this list are ones that, at various times, have shaped and directed my faith. Each of them depicts something of what it means to believe or to struggle with belief. They either tell of a void in belief or of a Big God worth believing in, and in both cases the reader is shown a clearer picture of what faith means. Some are stories. Some are arguments or explanations. Some are reflections through memoir or poetry. I encourage you to find the one or ones with which you connect and consume them with delight.
So many of our struggles with faith revolve around big questions, complex questions, in some cases unanswerable questions. We even have questions about our questions. These books will either help readers know how to answer (or if we can answer) these big questions or they will help us ask better questions in the first place. They offer thoughtful, winsome, careful answers and firm, grounded, biblical paradigms of thought and understanding.
The End of Our Exploring by Matthew Lee Anderson
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin
Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel
The Myth of Certainty by Daniel Taylor
The Skeptical Believer by Daniel Taylor
Connecting God to Life and the Mind
Call these books food for thought. They are rich nourishment for the life of a believer – hearty fare for the intellect and the maturing Christian life. You will find no simplistic instructions or how-to books here. These are for thinking, reflecting, and having our ideas and lives reformed.
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
God in the Dock by C. S. Lewis
Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Simply Christian by N. T. Wright
Living Faithfully and Living Well
True belief is only as meaningful as what we do with it, or rather what it does to us. Belief must be in action to be of any use, and these books are formative ones for transferring ideas to real life. They will shape worship, work, devotional life, relationships with God and people, and give hope in the hardest of times when doubts and fears at their worst.
Culture Making by Andy Crouch
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
Whiter than Snow by Paul Tripp
A Shelter in the Storm by Paul Tripp
Death by Living by N. D. Wilson
Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N. D. Wilson
What is faith without an object? Our faith is only as strong as that upon which it rests, so we must be anchored in a true, deep, biblical understanding of God. He cannot be theory or academic debate to us; he must be a real, living, ruling LORD. These books usher readers into that reality of God and offer opportunity for faith to grow in profound ways.
Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller
Superheroes Can’t Save You by Todd Miles
18 Words by J.I. Packer
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders
Understanding the Bible
Just as it is impossible to trust God without knowing Him so it is impossible to know God without reading the Bible. But the Bible is a complex book of varying genres, multiple authors, and covering hundreds and hundreds of years? It is easy to get confused or overwhelmed by it. Each of these books shows how the whole of scripture is woven together as a single revelation by God of himself with narrative themes and threads throughout.
According to Plan by Graham Goldsworthy
The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
The Songs of Jesus by Tim & Kathy Keller
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts
Faithfulness in Leadership and the Church
The Church is the body of Christ, a community of people following Jesus together under the leadership of those uniquely called with the aim of showing Jesus to the world. But the Church is also a community of sinful, doubting, struggling people, and we fail all the time. Leaders fail. Churches fail. People get hurt. When these failures happen it can undermine and fracture fragile faith, both for leaders and church members. These books draw the Church, from top to bottom, to a focus and reliance on Jesus, His gospel, and pursuit of genuine Christian character. Readers will be encouraged, grounded, and have their faith bolstered.
Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch
The Gospel by Ray Ortlund
Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
The Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers
Stories that Stir
Sometimes the thing that encourages us in our faith or strengthens our faith most to see faith in someone else. Sometimes it is to see the character and trust of another person showing us the way. And sometimes, oddly, it is the failure and struggle of someone else. These people don’t always have to be in our world; fiction can build faith in profound ways as long as it reflects true realities to our minds and souls. These stories—some biography, some memoir, and some novel—are depictions of faith, and sometimes failure, to encourage readers by example.
The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Elliot
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
Struck by Russ Ramsey
Peace Child by Don Richardson
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Man Called Cash by Steve Turner
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanaucken
Poetry for the Soul
Poetry has a unique ability to illuminate truth in a manner our hearts and minds yearn for but often miss. It is imagery in word form rather than explanation. Poetry reveals reality rather than describing it and it makes the reader feel while we think. Faith needs a good framework on which to be built, but it needs passion too. It needs feeling and conviction and honesty and beauty. Good poetry offers each of these uniquely, and these books are rich with wonderful poems.
Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor
The Soul in Paraphrase by Leland Ryken
Two Funerals, Then Easter by Rachel Welcher