Recommended Reading

If you’re after further resources to equip you to live faith in real life, here are some suggestions to start with. These books are favourites among the Red leadership and are resources that inspire and complement our teaching.

drama of scripture
The Drama of Scripture – Craig G. Bartholomew & Michael W. Goheen

While it reads more like an academic textbook, this book is a brilliant resource in surveying the grand narrative of the Bible, demonstrating how the biblical story forms the foundation of a Christian worldview.

insect and buff
The Insect and the Buffalo – Andrew Shamy & Roshan Allpress

A more digestible resource – though no less weighty – that looks at the grand drama of scripture and the biblical narrative that shapes our entire lives. The Insect and The Buffalo is designed to help you re-read, re-think and re-engage with the Bible.

A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith – Philip Yancey

For some people, faith seems to come easily, but for others it comes in a swirl of doubts and questions. Philip Yancey confronts the questions head-on, from the stance of a skeptic. He writes: “I am where you are . . . an ordinary person trying to figure things out. I love, I experience beauty and pain, my friends die, I weep, I live. This book comes out of my own search and is written on behalf of those who live outside of belief―that borderlands region between belief and unbelief.”

reason for god
The Reason for God – Timothy Keller

Keller’s apologetics are meaty and convincing, speaking wisely into the reasons against and for faith. To believers he offers a solid platform on which to stand against the backlash toward religion spawned by the Age of Skepticism. And to skeptics, atheists, and agnostics he provides a challenging argument for pursuing the reason for God.

simply christian
Simply Christian – N.T. Wright

This book is often described as a modern-day version of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. N.T. unpacks Christianity and explains it accessibly and hopefully, assuming no prior knowledge or belief, gently and thoroughly answering key questions around faith and scripture.

concise theology
Concise Theology – J.I. Packer

The title says it all, as does the blurb: “how can I know God better? If only I had the time to study theology… if only someone could explain the essentials of theology in bite-sized portions… if only there was a resource that went deeper without drowning me in page after page…” This book covers the essentials of Christian doctrine with plenty of scripture references to encourage deep scriptural exploration.

The Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster

Foster introduces spiritual disciplines as the main way that we prepare the soil of our hearts for God to work in. The book covers internal, external and communal disciplines and provides practical explanations and suggestions for reflection along the way.

The Unbelievable Gospel – Jonathan K. Dodson

In a time when “Christian belief is out, alternative beliefs are in”, how do we communicate a more discerning, believable gospel? Dodson’s book covers the reasons that sharing the gospel is difficult (or our weaknesses as evangelists); how to rediscover and make sense of the gospel in light of current cultural climate without compromising it; and how to share the gospel with people who are put off or held back by different things.

God in my everything
God in My Everything – Ken Shigematsu

This very practical book takes readers through a comprehensive process of writing their own rule of life. The book explores a rule of life in four categories: Roots (sabbath, prayer and sacred reading); Relate (spiritual friendship, sexuality, family life); Restore (care for the body, play, money); and Reach out (work, justice, witness).

“Though the word ‘rule’ may sound harsh and confronting, I have found that living by a rule has paradoxically freed me to pursue… a life of deeper, transforming friendship with Jesus and a fruitful contribution to the world.”

every good
Every Good Endeavour – Timothy Keller

This book will change the way you see and experience work. Keller clearly outlines the ways that work enables us to participate in God’s patterns of creation and cultivation, and inspires a perspective that rightly sees work as worship. The book covers the tension between calling and vocation with encouragement, and empowers us to faithfully steward our design and gifts even if our vocation seems incongruent.

pursuing justice
Pursuing Justice – Ken Wytsma

Ken Wytsma calls us back to a proper understanding of biblical justice, a redeeming glimpse into the true meaning of righteousness and the remarkable connection between our own joy, the joy of others, and the wondrous Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Books by Mark Sayers

Strange Days: Life in the Spirit in a time of Upheaval

What in the world is going on?

These days the world has everyone spinning. Weekly terrorist attacks. The refugee crisis. Transgender bathrooms. Academic safe spaces. Tensions with Russia. A perpetually uncertain economy. The list goes on. It’s enough to make us crazy… or want to put our heads in the sand.

But we can’t, because these are our times, and we must face them. So what many Christians are looking for is someone to communicate a way forward—someone who both understands culture and trusts the Bible. Mark Sayers is such a leader, one who “writes from the future.” He is a gifted cultural analysist who combines his biblical knowledge, curious mind, and pastoral heart to offer a guide to the times. Strange Days will help Christians slow down, get their bearings, and follow God with wisdom and tact in this wild world.

“Take heart, for I have overcome the world,” Jesus said nearly 2,000 years ago. And that’s the message of Strange Days, the message the church needs today.

disappearing church
Disappearing Church: From cultural relevance to Gospel resilience

In the discomfort between orthodox Christian faith and twenty-first century western dogma, we are tempted to do what it takes to make the pressure go away, to acquiesce on the beliefs that grate against contemporary sensibilities. Tweak, for example, your view on sexuality to be more embracing of today’s mood, or move from a particularist view of Jesus to a Universalist one, and you are warmly embraced into the fold. Thus for Christians raised under the ethic of relevance—that is, the desire to prove believers can be both holy and cool—the new pressure presented by an intolerant tolerance proves too much. Some compartmentalise their beliefs into an orthodox/secularist mashup; others simply disappear into the ghostly embrace of secularity.

Disappearing Church is a direct answer to the most pressing question facing church leaders today: How do we reach—and keep—people in a world that keeps swallowing Christians? Full of real stories and actionable insights, Disappearing Church offers practical wisdom for discipling in a highly secularised society. God will grow his church and protect its purity, but He will use each of us to do it. Are you up for the challenge?

facing leviathan
Facing Leviathan: Leadership, influence and creating in a cultural storm

On one side, the mechanical leader casts a vision of heroic action aided by pragmatism, reason, technology, and power. On the other side, the organic leader strives to bring forth creativity, defying convention and relishing life in culture’s margins. This leadership battle is at the heart of our contemporary culture, but it is also an ancient battle. It is the reinvocation of two great heresies, one rooted in an attempt to reach for the heroic, godlikeness, the other bowing before the sea monster of the chaotic deep. Today’s leader must answer many challenging questions including:

  • What does it mean to lead in a cultural storm?
  • How do I battle the darkness in my own heart?
  • Is there such a thing as a perfect leader?

Weaving a history of leadership through the Enlightenment, Romanticism, into tumultuous 19th century Paris and eventually World War II, cultural commentator Mark Sayers brings history and theology together to warn of the dangers yet to come, calling us to choose a better way.

the road trip
The Road Trip That Changed the World: The unlikely theory that will change the way you view culture, the Church, and, most importantly, yourself

We follow the culture of the road because it is everywhere. There’s no shortage of prescriptions for restlessness out there: Seek adventure. Live your life. Don’t hold back. Sound familiar? Like the characters in a Jack Kerouac novel, we’ve dirtied the dream of white picket fences with exhaust fumes. The new dream is the open road-and freedom. Yet we still desire the solace of faith. We like the concept of the sacred, but unwittingly subscribe to secularized, westernized spirituality. We’re convinced that there is a deeper plot to this thing called life, yet watered-down, therapeutic forms of religion are all we choose to swallow, and our personal story trumps any larger narrative. This is the non-committal culture of the road. Though driving on freely, we have forgotten where we’re headed. Jesus said His road is narrow. He wasn’t some aimless nomad. He had more than just a half tank of gas – He had passion, objectives, and a destination.

vertical self
The Vertical Self: How biblical faith can help us discover who we are in an age of obsession

Welcome to the 21st century where you can now purchase and exchange personalities, depending on mood and circumstance; where you are told that you can be anyone you want to be, and identity is no longer based in a sense of self but rather in the imagery you choose at that moment.The Bible contains a radically different way of understanding our identity. The path that God has chosen for us to discover who we really are is the path of holiness. The most exciting thing is that this path is not for otherworldy saints, rather it is a path of earthy, gutsy holiness. It’s a path that is not about basing your life on this world or of shunning your desires. Instead, it is about bringing your hopes, your dreams, your brokenness, your desires, your humanness under the Lordship of Christ. By doing this we don’t just discover a new way of living out our faith, we discover a liberating, revolutionary, life-embracing way of being truly human.

The Trouble With Paris: Following Jesus in a world of plastic promises

Doesn’t everyone want the good life these days? Our shopping mall world offers us a never-ending array of pleasures to explore. Consumerism promises us a vision of heaven on earth-a reality that’s hyper-real. We’ve all experienced hyperreality: a candy so ‘grape-ey’ it doesn’t taste like grapes any more; a model’s photo so manipulated that it doesn’t even look like her; a theme park version of life that tells us we can have something better than the real thing. But what if this reality is not all that it’s cracked up to be? Admit it, we’ve been ripped off by our culture and its version of reality that leaves us lonely, bored, and trapped. But what’s the alternative?In The Trouble With Paris, pastor Mark Sayers shows us how the lifestyles of most young adults (19-35) actually work against a life of meaning and happiness to sabotage their faith. Sayers shows how a fresh understanding of God’s intention for our world is the true path to happiness, fulfilment, and meaning.