The Most Influential Books of My Early Christian Life

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Most Influential Books of My Early Christian Life

I did not become a Christ follower until I was 20 years old. My spiritual growth trajectory grew at a steep incline following that event. I was asked once during a Q&A session what was most strategic in my early discipleship. Three things quickly came to mind.

First, there were the people who led me to Christ. I was reached through a campus ministry – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship – and the men and women involved in leading that ministry were nothing less than pivotal. They met with me, prayed with me, invested in me, opened doors for me, invited me… I am a life that was changed.

Second, there was an exceptional local church I quickly aligned with that took me under its wing.

Finally, there were the books. I had always been an avid reader, but after coming to Christ my early reading proved significant. Some things I read were not particularly helpful; other books were what I can only describe as anointed. Particularly those that helped me begin to knit together what it meant to live life following Christ, both in practice and in thought.

After addressing this question, I was asked to share some of those book titles with the audience. I said: “I’ll give you a few for now, but I promise I’ll blog the top 10. I may not offer much commentary on them because I wouldn’t know where to stop, but I promise I’ll put them out there for whatever it might be worth. And for me, they were worth a lot.”

So here are the top 10 books in no particular order:

The Fight by John White

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Improving Your Serve by Charles Swindoll

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

Loving God by Charles Colson

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer

Basic Christianity by John R.W. Stott

The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin

To be sure, there were many, many more. If I were to make a list of “honorable mentions” it would number in the scores. But if you were to read these 10 as I did, I can make you one very confident promise:

You would be profoundly transformed.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

This blog was originally published in 2018. The Church & Culture Team thought that you would enjoy reading it again.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. 

His latest book, After “I Believe,” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. 

Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.