Worship Matters - This is THE modern manual for leaders of music in the church. A must read for pastors as well. Filled with pastoral wisdom from 30 years or so of experience, you don't want to miss this one.
Total Church - This small manual for doing church was surprisingly insightful and winsome to me. They cover a wide range of topics that are all essential for healthy church life. I love the focus on Gospel and community. This is must read for all church leaders.
Death By Love - I have not actually read this all the way through (on the list for 2009), but I have read enough excerpts to know that this book is certainly one that you will want to pick up and check out. Mark shows how the gospel applies to a variety of different and challenging pastoral situations. Very practical and serious.
The Drama of Scripture - We studied this book in our home group this year. It's a great primer on Biblical Theology (God's story from Genesis to Revelation) for the lay person. I am more convinced than ever that it is essential for all Christians to be able to articulate the storyline of the Bible.
The Mission of God - What is God's agenda in the world? You'll find it clearly and exhaustively articulated in this tome from Dr. Chris Wright. I would say this book should also be required reading for all Christians. A bit longer than most want to tackle, but the blessing will be enormous. Those of us who are passionate about the gospel will want to consume this book as it convincingly articulates God's heartbeat from cover to cover of the Bible.
How Long O Lord - This year I read this classic from Carson for the 2nd time and it proved even more beneficial. We all will be touched by deep suffering at some point, if we have not already been. This book will help you deal with it or prepare for it in a way that is wisely pastoral and clearly Biblical. Carson is one of the best thinkers of our day and I believe this book is one of his finest. You certainly don't want to miss it.
Worldliness - Though not a big fan of the title (too much negative baggage for people with the word), this little book was very helpful for me in asking great probing questions about the implications of the Gospel in my life. Full of insights from the various authors, I was continually challenged through their practical admonitions for growth.
A Jazz-Shaped Faith - As Christians, what can we learn from jazz? Very much indeed. I drew extensively upon a pre-release of this book in preparing for my final Masters presentation at Covenant seminary. Christians and music lovers alike will find many insights for living the Christian life and the mystery that is jazz for so many people could become a bit less mysterious.