20 Books to Foster Life-Change

One of the things I have focused on of late is to focus on knowing certain books really well.  There are some books that I read, and there are other books that I read, outline, analyze, and refer back to time and again.  The latter are books that are generally rich in theology but also really useful in ministry.  During the last month, Grace (Baptist) has focused much on gospel and community, and in particular our responsibility to preach and apply the gospel to ourselves and seek to bring life-change together as we all consecrate ourselves to Christ and concentrate our lives on fulfilling His mission.

Consequently, a couple of weeks ago I did an informal polling question on Twitter asking folks about which books have resulted in the greatest life-change among either themselves or those in their congregation (or are discipling).  A pretty good listed was formed, and together with my own, I wanted to pass along a list of books that are worth reading, applying, and sharing in community with others to bring about the ongoing transformation that is inherent with the call to follow Christ. If there any others you would recommend, please pass that info along in the comments.

1. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp
2. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
3. Religious Affections by Johnathan Edwards
4. Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
5. Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
6. Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
7. God Is the Gospel by John Piper
8. The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
9. Holiness by Grace by Bryan Chappell
10. The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
11. The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges
12. Holiness by J.C. Ryle
13. Renewal as a Way of Life by Richard Lovelace
14. The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
15. The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett
16. The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
17. Humility by C.J. Mahaney
18. Desiring God Trilogy (Desiring God, Pleasures of God, Future Grace) by John Piper
19. When People Are Big and God Is Small by Ed Welch
20. Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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14 Comments on “20 Books to Foster Life-Change”

  1. Dave Miller Says:

    There are several books that have changed my life in one way or another – none made your list.

    *Supremacy of God in Preaching (John Piper)
    Preach the glory of God, not just practical, mundane, earthy subjects.

    *Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome (Kent Hughes) success is not numbers, fame or money; it is obedience, faithfulness, perseverence, service, etc

    *Spiritual Leadership (Henry Blackaby)
    The pastor’s job is to seek God’s agenda for the church and advance it, not to set his own agenda, dreams or ambitions.

    *Heart of the Problem (Brandt/Skinner) Revolutionized my counseling.

    • Johnny Swanson Says:

      I am surprised that the Sovereignty of God by A. Pink has not shown up. Maybe the age group which has participated is in play?

  2. Dan Odom Says:

    For me Lloyd-Jones’s Sermon on the Mount was instrumental in exposing Christ’s teaching and message.

    J.I. Packer’s Knowing God has been vital as well.


  3. Let me put a caveat out here to say that when I mean life-change, I am not meaning exactly “life-changing” books but books that foster continual life change by applying the gospel to your life and the lives of others on a regular basis. In other words, it’s practical theology (or biblical counseling) intended to stimulate/facilitate life change among believers.

    Certainly there are other books which are life-changing that I would add, but the list was formulated with the focus of daily repentance and faith in living out the gospel and using good books to assist in that great work.

    Hope that helps a little.


  4. This is a wonderful list. Many of these books have impacted my life as well.

    Thanks for compiling it, Timmy.

  5. Mike Leake Says:

    I would defintely have to add How People Change. I noticed that you have one Tripp book but this one is superb at promoting lasting change. This book is about Life Change.


  6. Those are all excellent. I would also recommend Trusting God by Bridges as well as War of Words by PD Tripp for good practicality.


  7. […] How many of these have you read? […]

  8. ed elliott Says:

    I’d recommend another Paul Tripp book full of wisdom:
    Life in the Middle.
    also, Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb
    and BOLD LOVE by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman.

    • ed elliott Says:

      More accurately, the Paul Tripp book I recommended is Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God.

  9. kschaub Says:

    I would add Baxter’s Reformed Pastor . . . maybe it meets your caveat?! 🙂

  10. Jim Patterson Says:

    I note Richard Lovelace’s Renewal book. I would recommend the longer version, Dynamics of Spiritual Life. He was my mentor in church history at gordon-Conwell (many moons ago!).


  11. If read correctly, Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan
    A Biography might sound unusual but Robert Murray Mcheyne by Anrew Bonar is extremely convicting (being that it’s a great part journal entries)
    One like it which greatly affected Paul Washer is the Autobiography of George Mueller

    The Godly Man’s Picture, Thomas Watson
    The Christian in Complete Armour, William Gurnal
    Expository thoughts on the gospel, Jc Ryle(greatest devotional EVER)
    The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod, Thomas Brooks (booklet–BRILLIANT)
    The Glory of Christ, John Owen

    Just another young guy absolutely in love with dead men, i rarely enjoy a living author (even the good ones don’t quite hold the same depth).

    Holiness by Jc Ryle was my intro to sound teaching, it was like livng water to me, i stayed up so late reading this that i used a vacation day so i could read more.


  12. Fantastic list. I run our church book store and I see a greatest hits list here. thanks for the post.


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