Jonathan Thomas, Pastor of Cornerstone Church, Abergavenny
I love to read. In fact, I find it hard to stop reading. Thankfully, as a church pastor, part of my job is to read. I genuinely believe that reading good Christian books is a means of grace that can help us grow in Christ and live the Christian life. I can think of books that I have devoured that came at just the right time to get me through a difficult season, or challenged me to stand up and step out in faith. Prayerfully working through a biography, commentary or theology book, with a pencil in hand, is sublime. I agree with Tony Reinke that, ‘We tap into the eternal value of literature when we read in the presence of God’.
But I also know that lots of folk in my church don’t love to read. Or, if they do, they simply don’t have the time to sit down and ponder a good book. Teenage boys, young parents, home educators, commuting execs, and babysitting grandparents, all struggle for time. This frustrated me for years. How could I get folk to read good books? Then I discovered the Union series by 10ofThose. My gateway into the series was Enjoy Your Prayer Life by Mike Reeves. Right from the start, in less than 50 small pages, I was pointed to the joy of praying in the light of the gospel. My guilt was lifted and my heart was drawn to prayer. Whilst it took me less than an hour to read, the impact was huge. So, I bought a copy for every member in my church! No–one could say no to a small book with such a sweet message.
Next I came across Intentional by Paul Williams. People are always asking me for advice on evangelism and sharing their faith. But most books are too technical or long. Or, worse still, never put the focus on Jesus. But here was a book that encouraged me to share Jesus, gave lots of practical examples, and could be read in a couple of sittings. Now, if anyone wants to know how to share their faith, this is always my first suggestion. Short, simple, and scriptural.
In 2020 I bought nearly 100 copies of another book in the same series. This time it was Suffering and Singing by John Hindley. I find John one of the most gracious writers around. And so, whilst my church was shielding, stressed, and struggling, I dropped them all a copy of this book. Here was an exposition of Psalm 44 which, as John writes, “sets our pain squarely in the context of God’s faithfulness.” That was a word in season. I had so many messages from members who had been ministered to through this tiny page turner.
I’ve read and enjoyed the other books in the series. My good friend Dai Hankey gives us a gospelicious look at repentance in Journey Back to Joy. This is the perfect book to buy for someone who feels like they have blown it. Andrew Wilson provides us with a faith–fueling look at the authority of the Bible in Unbreakable — a short book that will help many in an age where the Bible is under attack. And Jonathan Stephens gives a heart–warming walk through Matthew 8 in Fearless Faith. I’ve given them all away repeatedly.
This series of books has found a way to present the deep truths of the gospel in an accessible way. I’ve always got a pile of them in my office, ready to give out. At times, I have bought them in bulk to get the whole church reading the same thing at the same time. As a preacher I can’t get away from alliteration. So, just in case you missed them, I give away these books and encourage people to read them because they are short, spot on, scriptural, sweet and (if you buy in bulk) a steal!
The Union series has recently been redesigned, and is available here in both print and audio.