Article by: Matt Smethurst
On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I spoke with Mez McConnell, senior pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, and founder of 20 Schemes, about what’s on his nightstand, books he re-reads, books that have shaped his ministry, and more.
What's on your nightstand right now?
- Planting Churches in the 21st Century by Stuart Murray
- The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting by Aubrey Malphurs
- Urban Harvest by Roy Joslin
- Don’t Fire Your Church Members by Jonathan Leeman
- Glimpses of the Inner Life of Our Lord by William Garden Blaikie
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
- The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson. This is a brilliantly helpful book about the trials and tribulations of ministry and the need to guard our own souls and motivations. By far my favorite modern book on the ministry. It’s required reading for all my church planters. It’s so good I have been known to buy copies for random strangers at conferences!
- The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter. I don’t think there’s any need for me to explain why this cheeky little number gets dusted off regularly.
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. I love this book. It has everything. Love. Hate. Murder. Intrigue. Forgiveness. Redemption. The human condition summed up perfectly in an ageless story.
What books have most shaped how you view gospel ministry?
- The Surprising Offense of God’s Love by Jonathan Leeman. A brute of a book. It slaps you about the chops, kicks you in the gut, and then leaves you just glorifying the Lord more and more.
- God Redeeming His Bride by Robert Cheong. A fantastically practical book on the topic of church discipline. So, so helpful for gospel ministry when dealing with people in complicated life situations.
- Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer. A must-read for all engaged in evangelism. Deeply thought provoking and conveys a high view of God in the act of salvation. It’s on my required reading lists for church planters.
- Knowing God by J. I. Packer. The first Christian book I ever read. It gave me a love and appreciation for Christian doctrine, as Packer explains it in an engaging and easy-to-understand way.
- A Journey in Grace by Richard Belcher. This novel, while not exactly prose at its finest, introduced me to the doctrines of grace for the first time. It sets out the arguments in such a clear and specific way that they’re almost inarguable.
What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why?
- The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. Cliché choice from a guy with my background, but it was the first biography I read as a young believer. It made a huge impact on my life and made me believe that maybe I could do something meaningful for the Lord.
- Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. When I read this book I was desperate to go and be a missionary in some far-off land, getting chased by the secret police. It made me want to dedicate my life to the work of the gospel.
- Rees Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb. This book blew my socks off when I first read it. This man was so dedicated to the Lord and a life of prayer that it affected me deeply. A staggering biography.
- Killing Fields Living Fields by Don Cormack. Another immensely powerful and moving book about the work of the gospel among the persecuted Christians of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge years. Awe-inspiriting acts of faith in the face of death. Soul-stirring in every way.
- Bruchko by Bruce Olson. Wonderful true story of how a young man brought the gospel to the Motilone people of South America. I studied it in seminary for my missiology degree. We were discussing contextualization and overcontextualization, and this book left a lasting impression.
Also in the On My Shelf series: Erik Raymond, Sandra McCracken, Tim Challies, Anthony Moore, Sammy Rhodes, Karen Ellis, Alastair Roberts, Scott Sauls, Karen Swallow Prior, Jackie Hill Perry, Bruce Ashford, Jonathan Leeman, Megan Hill, Marvin Olasky, David Wells, John Frame, Rod Dreher, James K. A. Smith, Randy Alcorn, Tom Schreiner, Trillia Newbell, Jen Wilkin, Joe Carter, Timothy George, Tim Keller, Bryan Chapell, Lauren Chandler, Mike Cosper, Russell Moore, Jared Wilson, Kathy Keller, J. D. Greear, Kevin DeYoung, Kathleen Nielson, Thabiti Anyabwile, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Collin Hansen, Fred Sanders, Rosaria Butterfield, Nancy Guthrie, and Matt Chandler.
Matt Smethurst is managing editor of The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife, Maghan, have three children and live in Louisville, Kentucky. They belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church, where Matt serves as an elder. You can follow him on Twitter.
Read Source: On My Shelf Life and Books with Mez McConnell