In 2016, I had the privilege of reading MANY great books! (101 to be precise). Thank you to the publishers, authors and all others who made this possible.

Perhaps the most difficult part about coming up with a top list of books I read in 2016 is that I read alot of really good books this past year. Honestly there are more than 16 I would choose and highly recommend to others. (See all 101 books here)

Here is my top 16. These are not necessarily in order of favorite since they represent several different categories from which I read.

Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book:

One of the most often overlooked and neglected skills of leadership is the development of others. As a leader it is so easy to focus on your own development so that you can lead others well but oftentimes by doing so many will neglect the stewardship of developing others along the way. As Peck and Geiger state, “The brevity of life ought to birth urgency in us to develop others.”

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

This book provides insightful lessons on both leadership and being a team player. Based on his many years of corporate and consulting experience, Lencioni has boiled the characteristics of an ideal team player down to three virtues as he calls them. Lencioni makes it clear that these are skills that can be learned and cultivated in everyone’s life.

The Power of the Other: The startling effect other people have on you, from the boardroom to the bedroom and beyond-and what to do about it (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

Often in our lives we unintentionally repeat patterns of relating to others around us based upon patterns of connection that we have  learned often on a subconscious level. Likewise the right relationships in our lives has the power to impact us greatly both positively and negatively based on how “healthy” these relationships are for us. If you have ever wondered how and why some people are able to surpass limits. I think at some level most us wonder how we become better, how we become more. Dr Henry Cloud does well to guide the reader to understanding how it happens and how you can do so as well.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

For me, reading this book brought a new understanding to poverty and why it exists and the psychological, physical, and emotional challenges that comes from being evicted. As Desmond states, “Eviction does not simply drop poor families into a dark valley, a trying yet relatively brief detour on life’s journey. It fundamentally redirects their way, casting them onto a different, and much more difficult, path. Eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty.

Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

This book will challenge your perspective on areas of your life that God is challenging and calling you to live more fully in Him. This book is written to encourage the everyday Jesus follower to engage in the everyday stuff of life with the goal of seeing Jesus saturation for everyone in every place.

Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

Everyone makes mistakes, big and small. Sometimes our mistakes take us down the wrong path and send us spiraling into destructive life patterns, and sometimes we learn a lesson and never make the same mistake again. But how? How do we recognize our destructive patterns, make new choices, and then follow through?

In Never Go Back, bestselling author Dr. Henry Cloud shares ten doorways to success—and once we walk through these new pathways, we never go back again. His proven method—based on grace, not guilt—outlines ten common life patterns that sabotage success and lays out clear, concrete steps you can take to overcome them. You’ll see your relationships flourish, your personal life enhanced, and your faith strengthened. Dr. Cloud’s powerful message reveals doorways to understanding—once you enter them, you will get from where you were to where you want to be.

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

My original temptation was to summarize the book as a theology of power, but to do so would be to misread Crouch entirely. Playing God is theological, but it’s also social, cultural, historical, economical, political, practical, relational, and so on. In other words, the book considers what the Bible has to say about power, but it does not stop there.

Crouch wants to share with us a robust vision of who God is, who God made us to be, and how we might better pursue the flourishing of God’s creatures and creation.

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

From the shalom offered by God to humanity in Genesis, through the “wreckage of the fall,” and forward to Jesus’ “very good” gospel, Harper mirrors scripture’s long narrative with contextual family drama, including information about her “third great-grandmother” who was “the last adult slave in [Harper’s] family.” In an engaging accessible voice, she interweaves the provocative history of 19th-century evangelical movements, 20th-century social gospel and civil rights movements, and the 21st-century Black Lives Matter movement with her own testimony of coming to Christ and her varied experiences as a follower of Jesus. Harper provides detailed history, statistics, and vibrant stories that reveal the possibility of cultures redemption. The reader will be exposed and brought to a “very good” gospel, which sets free those who are broken, economically poor, abused, ashamed, and oppressed. Built on a foundation of solid biblical study, Harper provides a vital, effective contribution to understanding redemption of cultural issues we face today.

Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

Discernment by Henri Nouwen is at the top if not the best book on spiritual discernment I have read so far. I believe all of us would like to understand better how to discern not just God’s voice in our daily lives but also the various signs and calls we sense. This book adds a much needed element to spiritual formation and following God.

Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

Let’s face it, prayer can be confusing. Over the years I have heard so many different perspectives on prayer that it become hard to reconcile these differing views. To make it more confusing, sometimes we pray and God answers our prayers and other times He seems silent.

If you are looking for a book that will challenge your perspective on prayer in a healthy way and give you some insights into how prayer works this book would be a good recommendation for you. I personally feel Eldredge presents a balanced perspective on prayer in this book. One of the things I like about Eldredge’s prayer book is he tackles head-on some of the common questions about prayer that people have.

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

If you’ve read more than one or two Christian marriage books, you may have noticed they tend to follow a pretty standard template. This is not one of those books! I thoroughly enjoyed it like I do most marriage books but one thing that this book did better than most others is place marriage in the proper context.

Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa, give readers a different view of marriage, one suggests that as good as it is it try to make your marriage better, our main focus—whether in marriage or singleness—needs to be something bigger than marriage: God. This is the big idea behind You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity

Small Groups for the Rest of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

I like that the book isn’t proposing just a new system but more or less some best practices per se that can be implemented and spliced into an existing system. Surratt does well in being honest about places where they struggled along the way and even where they may not have things completely figured out yet.

The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

For most of us our view of “church” is tied up in a building; a place we go to on a particular day of the week. Our inherited patterns of “church” fall short of the kind of movement that Jesus and his disciples initiated. Imagine what it would look like for us to return once again to The Church as Movement “where everyone, regardless of race, gender and class, is an active agent in the game.” This book will help the reader understand with great clarity what it looks like to recover lost practices and perspectives of living this out in the world around us on a day-to-day basis.

Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

There is much of this book that can be immediately applied to a team you lead in a ministry setting. If you are looking to achieve greater clarity of purpose for your team, a better collaborative environment, determine who should or shouldn’t be on your lead team, trouble-shoot areas where your team may be underperforming to potential, help a team that is not good at communicating and resolving conflict, learn the best ways to resolve conflict in your team, help your team get better at making decisions (while learning faster decision making is not always better) than this is the book for you!

Next Door as It Is in Heaven: Living Out God’s Kingdom in Your Neighborhood (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

This is a book that is both convicting and compelling. It will move the reader to envision a life that is more integrated with their community and neighbors and challenge presumptions we all make as well as barriers from allowing this type of connection to occur. At the same time it is not just a book you read and forget about but one that is geared toward action and motivating the reader to live out and put into practice much of what is contained in it. Each chapter ends with reflective questions to help the reader wrestle through the content of each chapter prompting steps toward action.

Discipleship That Fits: The Five Kinds of Relationships God Uses to Help Us Grow (SEE REVIEW HERE)

Why You Should Read This Book: 

Discipleship is a word that has lost it’s proper meaning in our context. This book does well at not just redefining the word but redefining its role in various contexts. I found this to be a very effective book on understanding discipleship especially as the process and goals of it relates to what the authors define as 5 separate relational contexts. The book is good at clarifying not only how each of these contexts differ but also how discipleship in each of these spaces differ as well. An organization that is committed to pursuing developing a framework that integrates all 5 of these contexts well will be setup for lasting impact.