Summer Reading Recommendations (Part 5)

Jonathan Ingraham  •  July 20, 2021

Summer Reading Recommendations (Part 5)

Over the summer the team at Chattanooga Faith + Work + Culture would love to provide some helpful resources for your summer reading list. These books are essential reading on how to let the Gospel of Jesus inform how you live right now in your everyday life. Have a wonderful summer and happy reading!

(1) Art + Faith: A Theology of Making; Makoto Fujimura

Too often in the Faith and Work conversation those writing and teaching in the space do so from a theoretical and academic perspective. They have studied about vocation and theology and are now writing about specific work from what they have learned but never directly experienced. Other times those working in a profession understand intuitively why their work matters to God but they do not have the language to articulate it to others. Makoto Fujimura is a gift to all of us because he is a man of strong faith, an eloquent writer, and a world class painter. 

In Art + Faith, he beautifully describes how the act of making directly speaks to the grand narrative of Scripture. Fujimura calls us to see God as the ultimate Creator and also as a generous artist who calls us to make alongside Him. This wonderful book shows the reader that the vocation of the artist is one that highlights the true brokenness in the world, and also narrows in on the places where hope and beauty shine through. If you are an artist looking to understand how your work of creating brings glory to God, this book is a must read. 

(2) Compassion & Conviction: The AND CAMPAIGN’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement; Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler

It is impossible to engage the news today without being reminded just how politically polarized our world is. Healthy discourse has been replaced with an “us vs. them” mentality that is making it difficult for common ground to be found. Christians are not immune to this cultural trend. There are Christians on both sides of the political spectrum that believe you cannot be part of the other wing and still be a true follower of Jesus. Our political identity and our Christian identity have become intertwined. For many of us this has led to disengagement from politics all together. For others it has caused us to dig our ideological heals in to fight for a partisan agenda. 

Compassion & Conviction is a courageous book that calls the Christian not to disengage from the political process, but to look for ways to be a prophetic voice in the midst of the fray. Giboney, Wear, and Butler have committed their lives to this endeavor. Their argument is based in the belief that the Christian does not have to fear losing a political battle because “we already have the ultimate victory, which is our salvation and the kingdom that God has promised (Mtt 16:19; 25:34).” This framework frees us to view our political engagement as a way to love our neighbor instead of to win battles. Compassion & Conviction is a practical guide to faithfully engaging this political moment. 

(3) Lead Like It Matters to God: Values-Driven Leadership in a Success-Driven World; Richard Stearns

Richard Stearns has been in executive leadership roles for most of his life: both in the marketplace and also as the president of World Vision US. In this wonderfully refreshing book, Stearns argues that godly leadership is not first about success, but about the character of the one leading. He argues that God has always been about picking leaders who look much different than the picture of leadership the world gives us. He says the world “rewards success, but God’s bottom line is faithfulness.”

He organizes his argument around 17 characteristics he believes define a leader that is faithful to God. The descriptions he gives are not often found in leadership books. For example, Stearns begins the description of a leader with the word “Sacrifice.” This upside down approach of leadership points to the heart of God. It is not only about the success of an endeavor but about the formation of the leader. Stearns truly believes that “good and godly leadership contributes to human flourishing when it creates cultures and environments that are fair, just, and caring.” This type of outcome is found when leaders are “conformed into the likeness of Christ (Rom 8:28).”