Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2017

If you clicked on this link you probably like books. If so that’s great, if not then you are missing out! Read on to find out why.

The Bible is the most important book in the world, as it through His words in the Bible that God speaks to us. However, God has also gifted many down the ages to write excellent books to help people in their lives as Christians. Indeed, the gifted Bible-teacher and writer John Stott ended his last book (The Radical Disciple) with the advice “So let me urge you to keep reading, and to encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much-neglected means of grace.” We hope that God will bless you as you read, equipping you in your walk with Christ and that you will find that to be true by reading some of the books highlighted below. These books are St Leonard’s ‘Book(s) of the Term’, a scheme used to promote particularly helpful Christian books to our Church Family. 


A Better Story by Glynn Harrison. God, Sex and Human Flourishing,

a better story


This book examines the  sexual revolution & the Christian response. What if...We faced up to our sub-Christian culture of shame? Re-imagined what it means to made sexual in the image of God? Remembered that we flourish when we live in harmony with God’s design? And left behind the broken promises of the sexual revolution to tell a better story of our own?








How to Walk into Church

walk into

Is all about church as part of our Christian journey. Each of us has decided to go to church - why do we do it? Is it just habit, or for what we can get out of it, or is it part of our walk with God? So this very short book is really all about what we think church is for and what we do when we get there. Well worth an hour's read!











A book to help us focus on the "ordinary" means by which God wants us to grow as Christians

ordinaryIn "Ordinary" the US Bible Teacher Michael Horton writes passionately to encourage us to "embrace radical ordinariness". He explains how Christian maturity is to be found by being rooted in familiar things that we all too frequently neglect as a result of being influenced by pressures from society to always look for new and better things. Our society idolises innovation, and equates contentment with a passive attitude whereby people settle for second best. However, Horton shows that God wants Christians to find contentment, and grow in likeness to the Lord Jesus through His "ordinary means of grace". These are immersing ourselves in God's Word in the Bible, prayer, and sharing our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our quest for the new and extraordinary undermines how we should value these "ordinary" things. Ordinary is an encouraging book because it shows the immense value of traditional things that should be part of all Christians' lives. However, it is also a book that challenges us to examine what we see as important in our discipleship both individually and as a Church Family. 






Showing us how Biblical teaching on controversial issues such as human sexuality remain plausible in a society seeking to turn away from God's Word.

plausibilityEd Shaw is a leader of a church in Bristol, known to some in our Church Family. Shaw writing as someone who has same sex attraction, seeks to enlist support from us all to encourage those who like him find it an on-going struggle to remain true to his faith in a culture where a majority appear to have dismissed Biblical teaching concerning human sexuality. There is a helpful Appendix in which Shaw examines what the Bible has to say about human sexuality, and he critiques the writings of some in the Church campaigning for change. However, Shaw’s main purpose in the book is to cause us to reflect on how contemporary cultural attitudes cloud our view of Scripture, sometimes leaving us confused what to think about several important issues. Shaw shows we need to be more concerned with God’s Word, and less susceptible to being shaped by society. Written with raw passion, this is a book to equip us to engage with an issue that is causing hurt and division in the Church, and shows how we are all affected.



Restoring joy to Christian service we serve

servingLife is often busy and hard. In the light of this acts of Christian service can often lead to us feeling emotions that spoil and undermine the very purpose behind them. Few Christians will not at times have known what it is to do acts of Christian service feeling self-righteous, resentful, bored or grudgingly seeking to earn God’s love and respect. How do we rediscover joy and correct our wrong attitudes? In this book John Hindley sets out to show us how, by explaining that right attitudes in Christian service can only be found by properly understanding the Gospel and its implications. Our attitudes are corrected once we reflect on the fact that Jesus came to serve us. It is only once we grasp the implications of this we will be empowered and motivated to serve Jesus as we should. Hindley clearly unpacks these truths, showing how we can thereby serve Jesus “without sinking”.




 Crystal-clear summaries of the fundamentals of the Christian faith

beliefs‘Doctrine’ maybe an off-putting word to you, but correct doctrine is fundamental to our faith. Doctrine defines what we believe. However, have you ever found yourself at a loss to understand or explain to someone enquiring of you, issues concerning the Christian faith? How would you explain what the Trinity is? Could you explain atonement, what the meaning of Church is, or what will happen when Jesus returns? These four issues are among 20 core aspects of Christian doctrine clearly explained in a brief book of around 150 pages. The book is a synthesis of the work of one of the foremost teachers and writers on Christian doctrine, Wayne Grudem, whose son Elliot has taken his father’s extensive work and made it easily understandable for a broad readership. The book is ideal to sharpen up our understanding and to equip us in “being prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter Ch 3 v15).  


A book to inspire us to seek a life of holiness

holinessPerhaps you can identify with John Chapman’s admission “I suppose if you are anything like me your attitude to holiness goes something like this: “Oh God, make me holy, but not too holy and not too soon.”! The late John Chapman was an Australian evangelist known for his humour and love of life; a big character in every way. Chapman uses the Apostle John’s vision recorded in Revelation, of God’s people as Christ’s bride in heaven, to challenge us to consider how ready we are for that wedding day. Chapman does this to motivate us to strive for holiness in our lives, because when we get to heaven “we are not meant to turn up in our tracksuit with a smudge of grease on our cheeks and our hair like a bird’s nest. God transforms us into the likeness of Christ so we will be prepared for that day when we will take our place in the New Creation God is preparing for us.” This book is an easy read, clearly showing how and why holiness is something that all Christians should be considering prayerfully.


A great Bible-teacher highlights character traits that should be seen in the lives of Jesus’s followers

stottJohn Stott was one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th Century, known for his wonderfully clear and incisive teaching to help people better understand the Bible. Stott wrote many great books and commentaries, and The Radical Disciple was his last. The book was written to help us grasp the implications of what God’s purpose is for as Christians. Stott writes “God’s purpose is to make us like Christ. God’s way is to fill us with His Spirit.” In other words, the book shows what the Christian life looks like in practice by highlighting eight aspects of discipleship through which we grow to resemble the Lord Jesus. The book challenges, encourages and inspires us by giving a great insight into what holiness looks like in the life of the believer.



A wonderful aid to help us understand the Biblical account of creation and its relevance to us

paineThis is a wonderful book, written by Alasdair Paine, one of our former curates, which helps the reader understand the great truths contained in the first four chapters of Genesis. There is much misunderstanding and misinformation about the Biblical account of creation, and frequently people criticise and reject it without ever properly studying it. Alasdair Paine has immersed himself in the text, and this book is testimony to many years of diligent study and preaching through these chapters. A great virtue of the book is the manner in which it makes a controversial part of the Bible startlingly clear and relevant, focusing us on what God has to teach us about Himself, our world and ourselves. Few would be able to read this book and be left unaffected. The believer will find their faith deepened, and be left wondering at the majesty of God and the privileged place of man in creation. The enquirer will be encouraged to read the Bible seriously, discovering how much of the criticism of Genesis is irrelevant and misplaced. And the sceptic will be challenged to assess whether their objections to the Biblical account of creation are still relevant.


A powerful ‘first hand’ account to help us understand Jesus’s death on the cross

heavenThe Christian author David Prior wrote “We never move on from the cross only into a more profound understanding of the cross”. Jesus’s death and resurrection is the central event in history, and our salvation is totally dependent upon it. This short book offers a fresh perspective to improve our understanding of what happened when Jesus died for us outside Jerusalem’s city walls. Colin Smith tells the story of that day through the eyes of the thief who when dying on a cross alongside Jesus, acknowledged his sin and recognised Jesus as his Lord. Using this device Smith explains in a clear and accessible way how Jesus’s death fulfilled the promises foretold in the Old Testament, and what Jesus’s death achieves for those who place their trust in Him. This is a wonderful book for Christians to read to focus on the overwhelming importance of the Easter message, and is a great resource to give to friends, colleagues and neighbours to explain the Gospel.


Clear and helpful advice to spur us on in the Christian life

growOne of John Hindley great gifts as a Christian author is the engaging nature of his writing. This has made his books popular even with those who can struggle to read Christian books. You Can Really Grow is the fruit of Hindley’s reflection on what it means to grow as a Christian after he realised he had been encouraging his Church Family to grow without really understanding himself what that meant in practice. Hindley highlights how growth as a Christian means to increasingly resemble the Lord Jesus in character. This growth comes from God but is achieved with our cooperation and effort. There are helpful chapters on prayer and reading the Bible that will prove refreshing to Christians however mature or young in the faith. Also, Hindley explains how some of the most significant periods of growth in godliness can be in response to sin and suffering. It is proof of this book’s quality that many go on to share it enthusiastically with others after reading it.



How appreciating the blessings of being a Christian means we can find peace from our worries

worryTim Lane is an American Church leader who has a counseling ministry helping people through anxiety-related issues. This book’s power comes from the manner in which it brings teaching from the Bible to bear on our lives. Lane shows that worry comes from being over-concerned about things, and thereby under-appreciating the blessings we have as Christians. Jesus gave people cause to worry when we consider the consequences of His teaching if we fail to follow Him as Lord. However, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, tells us as members of His little flock that we need not fear or worry. Lane appreciates how hard it can be to obey Jesus, and let the knowledge of our immense blessings as members of Jesus’s little flock change the way we feel and thereby give us peace. This is where this book comes into its own by combining theology with clear and helpful application. Using his gifts as a Bible-teacher and counselor, Lane shows how we can turn the Bible’s teaching into practical measures that will lessen our worries and deepen our faith. This is a wonderful book to help you deal with the worries in your life, and a great book to share to help others “replace anxiety with peace.”


Where to buy Christian books

While there are many ways of buying books in these days of the internet, the following are three that we would recommend:

1. The St Leonard’s Bookstall.
There is a bookstall at the back of Church with a range of Christian books for purchase. There is an honesty box with a book to record your purchases to help with stock-keeping. We try to sell most books at a discount. Any profits go to St Leonard’s ministry. If you have any questions or suggestions please contact Giles Bradley

2. Bridge Books.

The number of independent bookstores has shrunk dramatically in recent years, and it is now harder to find shops with a good selection of Christian books and resources. This makes it all the more important to support those ones that remain, as they play an important role, not least in being a witness to the local community. Our local Christian bookstore Bridge Books, can be found near Exe Bridges on Okehampton Street. Bridge Books has an excellent and much more comprehensive range of books, Bibles and resources than we are able to stock on the St Leonard’s Church Bookstall. Moreover, they are also pleased to order whatever book you would like if they do not have it in stock. (Contact; 3 Okehampton Street, Exe Bridges, Exeter, Devon. EX4 1DW Telephone: 01392 427171).

3. The Good Book Company.
good bookThis organisation is both an internet retailer and a publisher of Christian books, having published some of the books chosen for our ‘Book of the Term’. GBC uses its profits to finance Gospel work and only stocks books that its staff believer are ‘good’ ones. In the light of this you can be confident that in buying from them you are both getting a helpful book and financing work for God’s kingdom. Their website is

4. ICM Books Direct

icmICM Direct is a family run Christian business which seeks to put good Christian books into the hands of Christians at the best possible price. If you want a particular Christian book, ICM is highly likely to have it given their exceptionally wide stock. ICM say their aim is “to give the highest possible standard of customer care and we aim to give 100% satisfaction to every person who purchases from us.” As a frequent customer I can attest that they live up to this aim! Their website is:

Books written by our ministry team

While all of our ministry team are enthusiastic readers of Christian books some of them are also published authors too! The details of their published works are shown below.

Simon Austen

Why should God bother with me? (Christian Focus)
A Better Way (Christian Focus)
Teaching Ephesians (Proclamation Trust, Christian Focus)
Introducing Ephesians (Proclamation Trust, Christian Focus)

Simon has also contributed to the following publications:
Confident and Equipped (Church Society, Lost Coin Books)
What do we owe the Reformation (Protestant Truth Society)
Why I am an Anglican – Orthos Publication 23 (Fellowship of Word and Spirit)
The Proclamation Bible

Ed Surrey

The Spirit (Fevr)
The Cross (Fevr)