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The best two books of 2011 (by default)

Posted by on Dec 30, 2011 in books | 2 comments

The best two books of 2011 (by default)

Every year since I started blogging in 2006, I’ve chosen a “best book” of the year. I’ve already had two criteria for choosing those books: 1) it had to be a book that I read for the first time that year and 2) it had to be a book about the church. (I mean, this blog is about the church, right?)

But, this year, by plan and by design, I decided to not read new books about the church. (I did read a few books that I had already read, and I read excerpts from other books.)

It wasn’t until recently that I recognized how this plan would affect my ability to choose a “best book” of 2011. However, it turns out that I DID read 2 books at the beginning of the year before my self-imposed “sabbatical” on new books about the church. I’ve decided to name both of those books as the “best two books of 2011.”

Here they are in no particular order, along with links to and excerpts from my original reviews:

To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City by Eric Swanson and Sam Williams
(Also, see my post “The Whole Church = All Church Leaders?” which discusses one aspect of this book.)

Overall, though, this book presents several concepts that are important for all believers to understand. When believers work together with brothers and sisters in their neighborhood (whether they are part of the same “local church” or not), then their neighborhood will be transformed. The same could be said for workplaces, schools, etc. They do not have to wait for church leaders to organize projects. They can start working together right now.

The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (with a second subtitle: How a new generation is restoring the faith) by Gabe Lyon

I would recommend The Next Christians, especially to two groups of Christians. If you consider yourself one of “The Next Christians,” this book will be an encouragement and a challenge for you to live for Christ focusing on the gospel. If you do not consider yourself a “Next Christian,” and perhaps even wonder why so many people are changing a good thing, this book will help you see these new Christians from their perspective.

And, finally, if you’re interested, here are links to my “best books” of 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-30-2011

    Alan, I am a first-time contributor and recent subscriber. Thanks for your work on this site. The topic of “Community Transformation” is one I’ve been personally involved with for several years. I haven’t read the current book by Eric Swanson, but have been acquainted with his writings the past few years. I am ALL IN FAVOR of efforts by believers to cooperate for neighborhood transformation. In a neighborhood outreach in our city several years ago we saw the closing of 5 major drug houses within a 2 block radius of our outreach, and the personal redemption of numerous individuals. But I have a couple of “reality observations”. First, community transformation is not the same as personal transformation. The “Gentrification” of neighborhoods and communities does not require the gospel, although the outworking of the gospel may produce it. Second, all community transformations are temporary. Perhaps the most profound transformation of any Western society was that of England in the wake of the Evangelical Awakening. English Society was “transformed” for a period of 100 years between the mid-1700s and the mid-1800s. But England today is a Post-Christian and Post-Modern wasteland struggling to find it’s spiritual, moral and cultural footing. Finally, the clear imperative of Scripture is personal transformation. I am at odds with Chuck Colson who sees a “Cultural Commission” implicit in the gospel. Rather, I believe in what I term “Cultural Consequences” – the transformation (albeit, temporary) of our surrounding culture as the by-product and outflow of a lives transformed by the gospel.

    Keep up the good work! Blessings, Maurice

  2. 1-3-2012


    I agree with what you’ve written. I do not think that community transformation for the sake of community transformation alone should be ultimate the goal of those who are following Jesus. Hopefully, when we are seeking to better our community, we will have opportunities to introduce people to the reason that we care about our communities in the first place: Jesus Christ. Like you said, it is as lives are transformed by Jesus Christ that real outward transformation will take place.