|Codex keeping up on catnip agricultural tomes.|
While I know the preacher's life does not lend itself to spare time, I find that reading a good book continues not to be "play" but "nourishment". Sometimes the best insights you've been looking for come up in the midst of a good book that has taken you away for a brief moment from the hubbub and helped you take a breath, focus and see with refreshed eyes what has been eluding you about a sermon, a matter of pastoral care or a way of connecting heart unto heart in your ministry.
I also enjoy hearing what folks find helpful to them. In particular, I keep a look out for the twice a year special issue of The Christian Century featuring the "Fall" and "Spring" books, featuring a higher than usual amount of content on new books and some of the issues driving authors to write about ministry and other issues of interest to Christian readers. I also go searching for the "front list" titles of several publishers, who tend to use increasingly online ways of sharing the good word of new titles. Several publishers provide their catalogs as PDF downloads on their websites, and a few others offer opportunities to connect with their companies via Facebook postings. Ergo, I tend to know of books a few months before publication, which isn't necessarily the best thing ever for my bank account.
One annual list of "best books" comes in the form of the Academy of Parish Clergy (www.apclergy.org) offering their perspectives on books helpful and important for pastors to read and keep up in the issues and the arts of ministry.
Dr. Robert Cornwall, editor of the "Sharing the Practice" journal published quarterly by the APC, kindly provided me the information to share with you about the 2014 recognitions just awarded at the annual conference gathering. Enjoy!
The Academy of Parish Clergy, Inc. announces the 2015 Book of the Year Award to be The Church according to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ, By James W. Thompson (Baker Academic). The Book of the Year Award is given to the best book published for parish ministry in the previous year.
In addition, the Reference Book of the Year Award is given to Deuteronomy: Belief—A Theological Commentary on the Bible, by Deanna A. Thompson (Westminster John Knox Publishers).These awards will be made at the Annual Conference of the Academy, April 21-23, 2015 at the Claggett Center, Buckeystown, Maryland.
In addition to the Book of the Year, the Academy has selected the following books as the Top Ten Books for Parish Ministry published in 2014:
Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most. By Marcus J. Borg (HarperOne Books)
Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure. By J. R. Briggs (IVP Books)
Faith Speaking Understanding. By Kevin Vanhoozer (Westminster John Knox Press)
The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New Testament. By Kenneth E. Bailey (IVP Books).
The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus. By Michael Bird (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).
Invasion of the Dead: Preaching Resurrection. By Brian K. Blount (Westminster John Knox Press).
Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scritpure Today. By Adam Hamilton (HarperOne Books)
Reading the Parables Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church. By Richard Lischer (Westminster John Knox Press)
Sensing the Scriptures: Aminadab's Chariot and the Predicament of Biblical Interpretation. By Karlfried Froelich (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).
Slow Church: Cultivation Community in the Patient way of Jesus. By C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison (IVP Books).