Short Evangelistic Christmas Books

With Christmas just around the corner, I know many people are thinking of ways to engage family, friends, coworkers, neighbors with the true meaning of Christmas. I wanted to share some recommendations for evangelistic books you can give away as gifts this Christmas! All of them are short so it’s more likely that even people who don’t like to read will give the books a chance. I’m listing them by newest to oldest publication date. (My personal favorites are the McLaughlin and Greear books.) If you’ve stumbled upon some good books, let me know as well!

The Ultimate Christmas Wishlist: What if You Could Get What You’re Really Hoping For? by Rico Tice (2022). Tice uses Isaiah 9:6 and the names of Jesus to address people’s “Christmas wishlist” desires for hope, peace, purpose, and guidance. It is a good introduction to Christianity, and unlike the other Christmas books on this list, this book doesn’t focus only on the Nativity story. It’s designed to be used for outreach events and to start conversations.

Is Christmas Unbelievable?: Four Questions Everyone Should Ask About the World’s Most Famous Story by Rebecca McLaughlin (2021). This is an evangelistic book that uses an apologetics framework similar to Case for Christmas. Written by one of my current favorite authors, this 64-page book covers the following four questions in a super accessible way, with contemporary references to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and more: 1. Was Jesus even a real person? 2. Can we take the gospels seriously? 3. How can you believe in a virgin birth? 4. Why does it matter? (Excited because Is Easter Unbelievable will be released in February, in time for this Easter!)

Searching for Christmas: What if There’s More to the Story Than You Thought? by J.D. Greear (2020). This book (also 64 pages) outlines the gospel also using Isaiah 9:6, and helps us understand how Jesus fulfilled the names “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.” And in a season so often focused on gifts, we see that Jesus is the one we truly need. I love this book because J.D. Greear is so readable and down-to-earth. As always, his examples and stories are funny but also get across their deeper-truth lessons.

The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger by Lee Strobel (2014) is the classic, the oldie-but-a-goodie told in the style of investigative journalism. Clocking in at a whopping 112 pages, this book addresses the following questions: Can the biographies of Jesus be trusted?; Does archaeology confirm or contradict Jesus’ biographies; Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of God?; Did Jesus–and Jesus alone–match the identity of the Messiah?

Where I Answer Your Questions About the Book Club

I’m excited by the positive energy around reading more together! I’ve been getting some questions, so I wanted to answer them here, for everyone’s benefit.

Q: How did you pick the books? Did you just…pick them? (EC)

A: The short answer is..yep, pretty much! Here’s the longer answer:

  • Similar to Ariana, The Sun Does Shine is near the top of my “Favorite Memoirs/Biographies of All Time” list.
  • Fahrenheit 451 is also near the top of my “Favorite Dystopian Books of All Time” list, and on July 21, 2017, I even wrote it was in my Top 10 books! (However, I’ve read some awesome books in the last five years, so it may have fallen out of the top 10. But top 25 for sure.)
  • I recently read Fan the Flame, and I was challenged and inspired through Pastor Cymbala’s stories as well as the closer study of Acts 20 and the early church.
  • The Life We’re Looking For is a book I haven’t read (yet) from Pastor Ed’s recommendations after this past ATR.

Q: Does it count if I listen to the audiobook? (AB)

A: Sure. There’s nothing to “count” as there are no points or tests, anyway! I personally love audiobooks, but I will say this – I don’t recommend listening to them while doing things like working, writing, or…reading something else. 😬 Then it becomes background noise, like how we old people used to do homework in front of that television box thingy that people used to have.

Q: I read a great book recently. Can it be chosen for a future month? What’s the process? (AP)

A: Send me an email with your pitch. Though I have books in the queue, I’m totally open to suggestions and can fast track your book to the front. I’ll probably ask you to write a bit more and feature it here as a guest book review as well.

Lastly, I received several similar questions, so I shall answer them together…

  • Q: Are there actual meetings for the book club or do we just talk about it on the Book Club on Vine?  (TW)
  • Q: Is there like a group or something we join to talk about it? (AL)
  • Q: Is there a goal to gather and talk about books? Or is this just kind of like a monthly recommended list that acts as a conversation starter with different people at our church? I guess I’m wondering in what way is this a club? (HA) 

A: The reason this was kind of unclear and left vague is because there are lots of possibilities. I was originally inspired by the “One City, One Book” type of programs that different cities have adopted over the years. I liked the idea of all of us reading a common book as a way to spark organic conversation and to create community. Whether it’s talking about one of the books with someone while we’re at HB lunch, with my peers spread across church plants, with my housemates, or even when meeting someone new at MBS.

So there are no formal book club meetings coming from Book Club headquarters. However, I’ll be starting off the discussions on Convo soon, and there can be a virtual conversations there. And those may or may not bleed into in-person conversations. And who knows, maybe there’ll be peer, house, LG book club gatherings that pop up across our church! Send me a photo and I can definitely feature you on the blog.

So to answer the last question, maybe this isn’t so much a club as it is a Book(s)-of-the-Month initiative. But I went with “club” because of the community aspect that is part of my vision to see us all growing as readers and thinkers and listeners and conversationalists together. Hope that helps clarify the scope of the book club. Happy reading, everyone!

*For Berkeley folks, there are now some copies of all but Fahrenheit 451 available at the HB bookstore.

Introducing: Gracepoint Book Club

We’re marking the end of this blog’s 29-month hiatus by kicking off the Gracepoint Book Club! 🙌 I tried to think of some snazzy name, but decided to stick with this for now. Whether you’re an avid reader or a reluctant one, or somewhere in between, chances are you’d like to read more.

One of the obstacles people have cited for not reading more is not knowing where to start. So each month I’ll be unveiling the “book of the month” in four different genres or categories. You can choose to read one or all!

As I read along with everyone, I’ll be posting some thoughts and questions here on the blog, and over on Convo. The dream, the vision, is that there’ll be some IRL conversations as well as convo-sations throughout our church about some good books and some big ideas. This will help us to remember more of what we read, and we’ll likely grow in our enjoyment of reading as well, which will start a virtuous cycle of even more reading and more thinking!

Our November book-of-the-month selections are…[insert drum roll]

All you have to do is start reading! I also recommend following this blog so you get updates on posts.

Which book are you thinking of starting with?