Focus Program/Book List

“Clearly one must read every good book at least once every ten years.” 

C.S. Lewis

Objective: The objective of this program is to help those that are interested in leadership, church planting or furthering their theological education to accelerate their learning at their own speed, while they are working in their ministries.

Method: Each person chooses one book from each category (18) and then chooses 10 more books for their concentration for a total of 28 of the recommended books, and then takes the initiative to set up appointments, and meet with their mentor as they complete each book to hash through the material (candidates should meet at least once a month). Other assignments may be suggested or assigned at this time to enhance the issues of their particular ministry needs.

Upon completion, the student will have read through and critiqued (1000 word review) 28 books, including 10 “electives” (books that can be chosen out of any of the categories), read through and written a paper on Genesis, Ecclesiastes, John and Romans, watched and critiqued 5 media events/movies that communicate or relate to the gospel/theology/culture, and finally written a thesis (20 Page Paper) in their area of interest (theology, leadership, counseling, worship, etc.). The student will also meet with their mentor at least once a month.

Those on the church-planting track would need to draw up a philosophy of ministry, which includes an ecclesiology, and by laws.


Note:   Approved Substitutes can be made in any of the categories.


  1. On the Incarnation, Athanasius
  2. Philosophies of Life, Peter Kreeft
  3. City of God, Augustine
  4. Heresies, Harold Braun


Middle Ages

  1. Summa of the Summa:The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas
  2. Summa Theologica Edited and Explained for Beginners, Peter Kreeft
  3. Angels In The Architecture, Douglas Jones


The Early Modern World

  1. Christianity For Modern Pagans, Peter Kreeft on The Pensees (Pascal)
  2. The Pensees, Blaise Pascal
  3. Romans, Martin Luther
  4. Lectures On Galatians, Martin Luther
  5. The Institutes, John Calvin
  6. Philokalia, 3 Volumes
  7. The Existence And Attributes of God, Stephen Charnock


18th Century

  1. Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
  2. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen
  3. Freedom of the Will, Jonathan Edwards
  4. Systematic Theology, A.H. Strong
  5. Edifying Discourses, Soren Kierkegaard
  6. The Mortification of Sin, John Owen


19th Century

  1. Experiencing the Holy Spirit, Andrew Murray
  2. Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof
  3. Lectures To My Students, Charles Spurgeon
  4. Prayer and Spiritual Warfare, Charles Spurgeon
  5. Holy Spirit, Charles Spurgeon
  6. All of Grace, Charles Spurgeon


20th Century

  1. 20th Century Theology, Stanley Grenz
  2. Knowing God, J.I. Packer
  3. Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem
  4. Christian Theology and Introduction, Alister McGrath
  5. Easy Chairs, Hard Words, Douglas Wilson
  6. Biblical Theology, Gerhardus Vos
  7. The Righteousness of Christ, John Piper
  8. The Cross of Christ, John Piper
  9. Desiring God, John Piper
  10. The Drama of Doctrine, Kevin J. Vanhoozer
  11. First Theology, Kevin J. Vanhoozer
  12. Globalizing Theology, ed. Ott and Netland
  13. Mangoes or Bananas? The Quest for an Authentic Asian Christian Theology, Hwa Yung
  14. The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology), by Sinclair B. Ferguson
  15. Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright
  16. NT and the People of God, N.T. Wright
  17. Jesus and the Victory of God, N.T. Wright
  18. The Resurrection and the Son of God, N.T. Wright
  19. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, N.T. Wright
  20. The Trinity in a Pluralistic Age, Kevin Vanhoozer, ed.
  21. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, D.A. Carson
  22. The Trinity In Asian Perspective, Jung Young Lee
  23. God’s Greater Glory, Bruce Ware
  24. Water Buffalo Theology, Kosuke Koyama
  25. Doctrine; Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breashears
  26. The New Faces of Christianity; Phillip Jenkins


Church History

  1. The Story of Christianity: 2 Volumes, Justos Gonzalez
  2. How The Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill
  3. Desire of the Everlasting Hills : The World Before and After Jesus, Thomas Cahill
  4. Church History in Plain Language, Bruce Shelby
  5. The History of Christian Thought; Alister McGrath
  6. History of Christian Doctrines, Louis Berkhoff
  7. Christians as the Romans Saw Them, Robert L. Wilken
  8. How Africa Has Shaped The Christian Mind, Thomas C. Oden
  9. The Lost History of Christianity; John Phillip Jenkins



  1. A Primer On Postmodernism, Stanley Grenz
  2. Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas, Wil Willomon
  3. Postmodernity and its Discontents, Zygmaunt Baumann
  4. Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self, Bruce Thiselton
  5. Postmodern Times, Gene Veith
  6. Is there Meaning in the Text?, Kevin Vanhoozer


Missiology/Church Planting

  1. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Leslie Newbigin
  2. Foolishness To The Greeks, Leslie Newbigin
  3. The Open Secret, Leslie Newbigin
  4. The Church Between Gospel and Culture, George Hunsberger
  5. The Christian Mission and Modern Culture, 6 Authors
  6. The Missional Church, Darrell Guder
  7. The Celtic Way of Evangelism; George Hunter
  8. Let the Nations Be Glad; John Piper
  9. Planting Growing Churches, Aubrey Malphurs
  10. A New Way To Be Human, Charlie Peacock
  11. Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out, Mark Driscoll
  12. Jesus in the Margins, Rick McKinley
  13. A Peculiar People, Rodney Clapp
  14. Transforming Mission, Donald Bosch
  15. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer
  16. Total Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
  17. 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever
  18. The Shaping of Things to Come, Frost/Hirsch
  19. Forgotten Ways, Ed Hirsch
  20. Whose Religion is Christianity Anyway: The Gospel Beyond the West, Lamin Sanneh
  21. Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, Lamin Sanneh
  22. Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World, Bob Roberts Jr
  23. Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World, Bob Roberts Jr.
  24. Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns For Theology and Mission, Dean Flemming
  25. Reinventing Christianity: African Theology Today, John Parray
  26. Jesus and the Gospel in Africa, Kwame Bediako
  27. Re-Jesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, Michael Frost + Alan Hirsch
  28. The Mission of God; Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, Christopher J. H. Wright
  29. Living Water and Indian Bowl, Dayanand Bharati
  30. Christ and Culture, Revisited, D.A. Carson
  31. Culture Making, Andy Crouch
  32. Planting Missional Churches, Ed Stetzer
  33. Confessions of a Reformission Pastor, Mark Driscoll
  34. Planting Cross Cultural Churches, David Hesselgrave
  35. Center Church, Tim Keller, Redeemer Church, New York City
  36. Cross Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World In Christ like Humility, Duane Elmer
  37. Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting In Around the World, D. Elmer
  38. Gaining By Losing, JD Greear



  1. God Centered Biblical Interpretation, Vern Poythress
  2. Reading the Bible With Heart and Mind, Tremper Longman
  3. Shaped By The Word, Robert Mullholland (1st half only)
  4. Getting The Message, Daniel Doriani
  5. Is There Meaning In The Text?, Kevin Vanhoozer
  6. New Testament Exegesis, Gordon Fee
  7. Toward An Exegetical Theology, Walter C. Kaiser
  8. Validity in Interpretation; E.D. Hirsch
  9. Christ Centered Interpretation; Sydney Griedanus
  10. Gospel Centered Hermeneutics, Graeme Goldsworthy
  11. Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, Sydney Griedanus
  12. Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation, Henry A. Virkler


Spiritual Disciplines

  1. Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster
  2. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Don Whitney
  3. The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
  4. Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard
  5. Hearing God. Dallas Willard
  6. Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola



  1. Prayer, Hans Urs Von Balthasar
  2. The God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter
  3. The Way of A Pilgrim, Author Unknown
  4. The Power of Christ’s Prayer Life, Charles Spurgeon
  5. The Essentials of Prayer, E.M. Bounds
  6. Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds
  7. Power Prayer Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders
  8. A Simple Way to Pray, Martin Luther
  9. The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, Andrew Murray
  10. The Lord And His Prayer, N.T. Wight
  11. Transforming Power of Prayer, James Houston
  12. A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul and His Prayers, D.A. Carson
  13. Prayer; Tim Keller



  1. Christ Centered Preaching, Bryan Chapell
  2. The Homiletical Plot, Lowry
  3. Preparing Bible Messages, James Braga
  4. Preaching Jesus, Charles L. Campbell
  5. Preaching to Strangers, Willimon and Hauerwas
  6. Biblical Preaching, Haddon Robinson
  7. The Supremacy of Christ in Preaching; John Piper
  8. Light and Heat: The Puritan View of the Pulpit, R. Bruce Bickell
  9. Preaching Christ In All of Scripture, Edmund P. Clowney
  10. The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature, Sidney Greidanus
  11. Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching, Graeme Goldsworthy
  12. Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ From All the Scriptures; Dennis E. Johnson
  13. Lectures To My Students; C. H. Spurgeon
  14. Why Johnny Can’t Preach; T. David Gordon
  15. Preaching; Tim Keller
  16. Expositional Preaching, David Helm



  1. Apologetics to the Glory of God, John Frame *
  2. Proper Confidence, Leslie Newbigin
  3. The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer
  4. Jesus Under Fire, J.P. Moreland, Editor
  5. Scaling The Secular City, J.P. Moreland
  6. Classical Apologetics, Sproul, Gerstner, Lindsley
  7. Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler
  8. The Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til
  9. No Other Gods Before Me?: Evangelicals And The Challenge of World Religions, John G. Stackhouse
  10. Christianity at the Religious Roundtable, Timothy C. Tennent
  11. What’s so Great About Christianity?, Dinesh D’Souza
  12. Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
  13. God In the Docks, C.S. Lewis
  14. The Problem With Pain, C.S. Lewis
  15. The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis
  16. Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton
  17. The Everlasting Man, G.K Chesterton
  18. Heretics, G.K. Chesterton
  19. Why The Universe Is the Way It Is, Hugh Ross
  20. Simply Christian, N.T. Wright
  21. Evil, Justice and God, N.T. Wright
  22. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, William Lane Craig
  23. God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing In God Is Reasonable and Responsible, William Lane Craig
  24. The Deluded Atheist, Douglas Wilson
  25. Letter From A Christian Citizen, Douglas Wilson
  26. The World of Gurus, Vishal Mangalwadi
  27. Understanding Islam, Thomas Lippman
  28. Muslim Evangelism, Phil Parshall
  29. The Gospel For Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ With Confidence, Thabiti Anyabwilie
  30. Answering Islam, Norman Geisler/Abdul Saleeb
  31. Doubting, Alister McGrath
  32. The Reason For God; Timothy J. Keller
  33. Muslims, Christians and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships, Carl Medearis


  1. Bread In The Wilderness, Thomas Merton
  2. Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer
  3. The Knowledge Of The Holy, A.W. Tozer
  4. Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges
  5. Holiness of God, R.C. Sproule
  6. The Imitation of Christ, Thomas A’Kempis
  7. Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
  8. In the House of Memory: Ancient Celtic Wisdom for Everyday, Steven Rabey
  9. The Interior Castle, St. Theresa of Avila
  10. The Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross
  11. No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado
  12. The Desert Fathers, Thomas Merton
  13. Three Philosophies of Life; Peter Kreeft


Cross Cultural

  1. Breaking Down The Walls, Kehrein and Washington
  2. Sharing Christ in a Tibetan Buddhist World, Tsering Markhu
  3. Let Justice Roll Down, John Perkins
  4. Planting Churches Cross-Culturally, David J. Hesselgrave
  5. Urban Ministry, Harvey Conn + Manuel Ortiz
  6. Mangoes or Bananas? The Quest for an Authentic Asian Christian Theology; Hwa Yung
  7. A Theology as Big As The City, Ray Bakke
  8. Seek the Peace of the City: Reflections on Urban Ministry, Eldin Villafane
  9. Urban Ministry, David Claerbaut
  10. Water Buffalo Theology, Kosuke Koyama
  11. Cross Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World In Christ like Humility, Duane Elmer
  12. Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting In Around the World, D. Elmer
  13. From Foreign to Familiar; Sarah Lanier
  14. When Helping Hurts, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  15. Divided By Faith; Christian Smith



  1. Making of a Leader, Bobby Clinton
  2. Spiritual Leadership, J.O. Sanders
  3. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell
  4. Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, Kent + Barbara Hughes
  5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
  6. Crossing the Bridge: Church Leadership in a Time of Change; Alan Roxburgh
  7. The Heart of a Servant Leader, John C.Miller
  8. Brothers, We are Not Professionals, John Piper
  9. Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch



Note: After studying historical theology and the history of the church, there may be some historical figures that you want to study further. Below are some suggestions.

  1. Praying Hyde
  2. A Life of John Calvin, Alister McGrath
  3. George Whitfield
  4. The Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot
  5. The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
  6. Amy Carmichael
  7. Luther’s Theology of the Cross; Alister McGrath
  8. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy; John Piper
  9. Tortured For His Faith, Haralan Popov
  10. Tortured For Christ, Richard Wurmbrand
  11. The Life of St. Patrick And His Place In History, John Bury
  12. Revival and Revivalism, Ian Murray
  13. Spurgeon v.s. Hyper-Calvinism, Ian Murray
  14. The Forgotten Spurgeon, Ian Murray
  15. Jonathan Edwards; Ian Murray
  16. To the Mountain Top: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Sacred Mission, Stewart Burns


Christian Life

  1. Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton
  2. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  3. Confessions, Augustine
  4. Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan
  5. The Flight From God, Max Picard
  6. Desiring God, John Piper
  7. The Gospel According to Jesus, John McArthur
  8. Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot
  9. The Pleasures of God, John Piper
  10. Mere Christianity; C.S. Lewis
  11. A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, Eugene Peterson
  12. Recovering Biblical Womanhood and Manhood, Wayne Grudem and John Piper
  13. Finding God, Larry Crabb
  14. Ordering Your Private World, Gordon McDonald
  15. Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Thomas Brooks
  16. Spiritual Armor, William Gurnall
  17. Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller
  18. Searching For God Knows What, Donald Miller
  19. Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper
  20. When the Darkness Will Not Lift; John Piper
  21. The Mortification of Sin; John Owen
  22. The Prodigal God, Timothy J. Keller
  23. You Can Change; Tim Chester
  24. Prodigal God, Tim Keller
  25. Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller
  26. Compelling Community, Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop
  27. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, Timothy Keller


Pastoral Care

  1. The Reformed Pastor, John Owen
  2. Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams
  3. Biblical Eldership, Alex Strauch
  4. The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson
  5. Five Smooth Stones For Pastoral Work, Eugene Peterson
  6. Working The Angles, Eugene Peterson
  7. Pastoral Ministry, John MacArthur
  8. Pastoral Care, Gregory The Great
  9. Connecting, Larry Crabb
  10. Pastoral Counseling, John MacArthur
  11. How People Change, Paul Tripp/Tim Lane
  12. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul Tripp
  13. Soul Talk, Larry Crabb
  14. The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen
  15. Blame it On the Brain, Ed Welch
  16. Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, Ed Welch
  17. You Can Change, Tim Chester
  18. Redemption; Mike Wilkerson



  1. Worship, Community and The Triune God of Grace, James B. Torrance
  2. Beholding the Glory Edited by Jeremy Begbie
  3. God's Passion for His Glory, John Piper
  4. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, Marva J. Dawn
  5. Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts, Harold M. Best
  6. Worship By The Book; D.A. Carson ed.
  7. Doxology and Theology, Matt Boswell
  8. Worship Matters, Bob Kauflin


Marriage and Family

  1. Shepherding A Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp
  2. Fidelity, Douglas Jones (Men)
  3. Parenting Isn’t For Cowards, James Dobson
  4. Life Together, Dennis and Barbara Rainey
  5. Point Man, Steve Farrar
  6. Manhood Restored, Eric Mason
  7. Families at the Crossroads, Rodney Clapp
  8. Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Piper and Grudem
  9. The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller
  10. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, John Piper
  11. The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
  12. Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerich
  13. Missional Motherhood, Hloria Furman
  14. Glimpses of Grace, Gloria Furman
  15. Word Filled Women's Ministry: Serving the Church, Gloria Furman, Kathleen Nielsen


Social Justice

  1. God of the Oppressed, James Cone (Note: Highly controversial)
  2. Transforming Society, Melba Maggay
  3. Justice for All, John Perkins
  4. Justice, Mercy and Humility: Integral Mission and the Poor; edited by Tim Chester
  5. Awakening to a World of Need: The Recovery of Evangelical Social Action; Tim Chester
  6. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger; Ron Sider
  7. Restoring At Risk Communities, John Perkins
  8. A Practical View of Christianity; William Wilberforce
  9. Ministers of Mercy; Timothy J. Keller
  10. Good News to the Poor: The Gospel Through Social Involvement; by Tim Chester
  11. The Good News About Injustice, Gary Haugen


Book Reviews

  1. The papers should be no longer than 1000 words, and should be double spaced ( 3 pages long).
  2. Explain the title and subtitle (There are some books, particularly theology books where this may not apply). Relate the title and subtitle to the book’s theme and purpose.
  3. Set out the basic structure of the book drawing on the table of contents or other outline. (30-40% of paper)
  4. Evaluate how you think the book achieved its goals. (20-30% of paper)
  5. What two things did you like about the book? (Mandatory)
  6. What two things did you dislike about the book? (Mandatory)


Media Reviews

Evaluate the movie, music, play, etc. as it relates to the gospel, and its impact on culture. What are the issues the writer, producer, director is trying to portray? How can this film, etc. be used in the contextualization of the gospel? What are some of the images, motifs, or metaphors that the producer/director used to communicate his theme? What is the theme he/she is trying to communicate? Did the picture communicate clearly? What are the ramifications of the film in relation to the gospel and/or culture?

Bible Summaries

Each book needs to include its major theme, key words and verses, and an outline clearly communicating the book’s intent. How did the author intend to convey God’s story of redemption from the content of this book? Did you see any use of culture involved in the book? How is the gospel presented in each book? Is Christ seen in the book? How?