“Books can be mirrors, and they can be windows.”
— Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress

One way to get a glimpse into the inner life of City Church is to see the books its members are reading—as individuals, as a staff, as groups within the church.

We’ll update this page a few times a year. If you have suggestions or want to share about a book you’ve read—fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, whatever—please let us know.

From Erik, Senior pastor

In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World by Jake Meador
In a thoughtful, incisive way Meador first assesses what has led to the breakdown of community life. Then he outlines ways that people of faith (individually and collectively) can develop habits that restore relationships of thick community-making. As someone who helped found an organization in Richmond committed to the Common Good, this one was a must read.

Love Big, Be Well by Winn Collier
More than any other book I’ve read over the past several years this one has stuck with me. I’ve loaned it out. I’ve bought multiple copies for others as gifts. I’ve quoted most of it in sermons. Collier tells the story of a Virginia pastor and his small, faithful church through a collection of heartfelt letters. The result is a profound meditation on life together.

From Meg, director of women’s ministry

Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch
True flourishing is found in paradox—being both strong and weak. Crouch gives a simple framework that shows the complex relationship between authority and vulnerability and how the interplay between the two promotes or prevents true flourishing. Strong and Weak reveals the human tendency to settle for a languishing life while offering a helpful guide for living a life of meaningful risk and true flourishing. 

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
These books have helped shape the imagination and hopes for children and adults alike. Through adventures with the Pevensie children and Aslan, readers develop an understanding of the friendship and help we find in Jesus in our own lives. Knowing Aslan in the pages of these books helps us to know Jesus in our day to day. 

“But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” (Aslan, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

From JB, director of mentoring

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The book has it all. It's a murder mystery set in a 14th Century Italian monastery pitting Franciscans against Benedictines and both against the Avignon Papacy. Highly symbolic and multi-layered, it's also a story of books and ideas and the corruptions of human desire. It begins slowly, demands some linguistic agility but delivers a spiritual and intellectual feast. One pressing controversy never resolved: Did Jesus laugh? I loved it!

William Wilberforce, the Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner by William Hague (former leader of the Conservative Party)
How a sociable but sickly man fought throughout decades of resistance in the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarchy (our old friend George III) to outlaw the British Slave Trade which transported African slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean. It's the story of evangelical fervor, persistence and Providence. Hague undertook this biography because he'd already written the life of Wilberforce's great friend, William Pitt the Younger.

From Jim, pastor of children & families

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
The pastors of City Church sat down and read this important book together this past spring. In it we find a historical overview of systemic racism in this country and the ways in which the white church was complicit and even active agent to the oppression of minorities. This is an important book to read; it is a challenging book to read. Tisby gives the church real action points to help her move forward in such a way that is not merely non-racist, but rather anti-racist.

Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing by Jay Stringer
In perhaps the most important book that I have read to come out on the topic, Stringer uses his experience as well as studies and research to show that the struggles people face regarding their unwanted sexual behavior are actually pathways back to God who wants to be with us. I can think of no other book that would help a person struggling with unwanted sexual behavior more than Unwanted.

From Val, administrator

Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack by Alia Joy
Through deeply personal accounts, Joy challenges us to explore—and celebrate—what it means to be poor in spirit and how it forces us to reckon with our true dependence on Jesus. Her chapter on lament, "Let Us Rejoice and Be Sad: The Strength of Lament," changed me forever.

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
This beautifully written (and illustrated!) collection of essays and meditations on love and nature work together to create both a personal and family memoir that offers hope that makes your chest ache.

From Jennifer, Director of Preschool Ministry

Show them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids by Jack Klumpenhower
Jesus is better than anything—we know that to be true, but how do we instill that truth in our kids? Klumpenhower draws from over 30 years of experience as a lay Bible teacher and shares insights and practical tips on how to identify and communicate the gospel to children of all ages. A must-read, not just for those who teach kids at church, but for anyone who interacts with children and youth in any setting.

The One Year Praying through the Bible for Your Kids by Nancy Guthrie
My default is to worry about my kids. This book is gradually helping to change my default from worrying about them to praying for them. Nancy Guthrie combines a plan to read through the Bible in a year with devotions that focus on the trials and joys of parenting. Each devotion is connected to one of the day's scripture passages and ends with a prayer to pray over your child, or any children in your life. Even if you aren't planning to use the reading plan portion of this book, it's still a wonderful resource that provides encouragement, wisdom from God's word, and hope for the way God is at work in the lives of our kids.

From Megan Lowe, facilitator of Exploring Our Racism Discussion Group

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
In her memoir about being a black Christian woman in America, Austin describes what it feels like to be judged and discriminated against and what it feels like to be valued and embraced in her blackness (not in spite of it). Our group is reading this book to learn about our sister and her experience, and to also use it as a mirror for ourselves as we consider our own racist tendencies.

Counting Descent by Clint Smith
Smith blends history, personal experience, and heart into poetry that invites the reader into the little nooks and the wide open spaces that are all around us in creation and life but that many of us do not see—especially from the point of view of a black man who experiences racism. Our group closes each meeting with one of these poems by our brother and with prayer to the One who created him.

From Harrison Ford, pastor of spiritual formation

The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor's Heart by Harold L. Senkbeil
I've turned to this book over the past two months when I need to be reminded of why I am doing this whole pastor thing. Senkbeil has served as a Lutheran pastor for 50 years and that experience provides focused clarity on the work of a pastor. There is increasing temptation to understand the work of a pastor in light of contemporary professions—CEO, therapist, influencer, "thought-leader"—but Senkbeil is refreshingly ancient, returning pastors to the timeless of calling of being a sheepdog for the Good Shepherd by stewarding His means of grace (word, prayer, and sacrament).

Parenting With Heart: How Imperfect Parents Can Raise Resilient, Loving, and Wise-Hearted Kids by Stephen James and Chip Dodd
The authors want you to raise full-hearted children, but believe that for that to happen, you have to be a full-hearted parents. This book is meta in the best way possible. It's not about the techniques of parenting (though it does have that), but is more concerned with the experience and heart of parenting. I was sold when they described parenting as being a giraffe on ice and then wrote: "Being a clumsy parent is as good as we will ever become...This sense of imperfection and powerlessness is key to becoming capable of loving a child in all their own humanity." 

We’re also tracking these books on Goodreads. We’d love to connect with you there.