What Has Newt Been Reading?

April 6, 2018

We asked Young Life president, Newt Crenshaw, to share a list of books he has learned from over the past year.  It’s impressive and gives insight to the heart of our leadership and the direction of our mission.  Enjoy!



I confess that I am a “reader” in kind of an extreme sense of the word. I read because I like to learn, because I am curious and want to know “why.” I read because I believe it helps me know God, understand the world we live in, and be a better follower of Jesus and leader of others.

I also like to read in the context of community. So, I have chosen a sample of books that I have read over the last 18 months, and in most cases books that were recommended or given to me by others. I suppose in a broad way, I am now passing them along to you. Let’s learn and grow and follow our Lord together – for His glory!

The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge

I first encountered this book while reading the Gospel Coalition blog, as it won Christian Book of the Year in 2017. Reverend Rutledge does a beautiful job of describing the meaning of the cross, biblically and through the history of the Church, and exploring and explaining the different theories of atonement. ($25, amazon.com)

Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year by Philip Reinders

A wonderful devotional passed along by Lyn Ten Brink, Capernaum Coordinator for the MW Division. Thanks, Lyn! It is scripture-based, follows the Christian calendar, and leads you to deeper reflection, meditation and prayer.($26, amazon.com)

Collected Poems by T.S. Eliot

Eliot’s poetry is deep and inspiring, especially as he became a Christian later in life. His “Four Quartets” are probably my favorite poems of all time. This easy-to-travel-with volume was given to me by Peter and Grace Baughan, wonderful friends of the ministry. Peter loves Eliot’s poetry, too! ($25, amazon.com

A Tale of Three Kings: A study in brokenness by Gene Edwards

Jeff Cole, Young Life Area Director in North Alabama, sent me this book. It is a short but powerful allegorical reflection on the kingships of Saul, David, and for a moment, Absalom. ($7, amazon.com)

Genghis Khan Series by Conn Iggulden

Genghis was fierce, fearsome and ruthless – not characteristics to be broadly imitated by leaders. However, he was also brilliant, innovative and adaptive in his methods of war, negotiation and rule. Joe Leininger, a friend and partner in Young Life, recommended this historical fiction series to me. ($13, amazon.com)

Waking up White: Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

I heard of this book before coming to Young Life, but saw Pam Harmon’s (VP Capernaum) recommendation in an email and ordered it. Debby Irving does an amazingly honest job of telling her story of privilege and relating it to how to live responsibly in a society that has been shaped by race.($18, amazon.com)

The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch

Thanks to Marty Caldwell (EVP of YL International) for recommending this book! Hirsch studies periods of intense growth in the Christian church, and then insightfully distills the core DNA of these movements into a helpful lens through which to view our FORWARD movement in Young Life. ($13, amazon.com)

Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide by Ian Toll

The first two books in a soon to be finished trilogy of the Battle of the Pacific in WW2. Toll is a thoughtful historian and wonderful story teller with an eye towards the importance of key leaders and those who sacrificed in this pivotal series of battles, set into motion by the attack on Pearl Harbor. (PC- $14, amazon.com || TCT- $12, amazon.com)

Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? by Roland Allen

This book was recommended by Hal Merwald, who served Young Life faithfully for many years. It’s a prophetic work written in the early 1900’s about the right focus and persistent pitfalls of foreign missions work. His next work, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, is also good and more refined. ($11, amazon.com)

The Diaries of Jim Rayburn selected and edited by Kit Sublett

This is a must-read for every YL staff person, as it is deeply personal and always pointing to Jesus. Rayburn was a man of great vision and passion who was used by God to change the course of millions of people’s lives who were introduced to Jesus and grew in their faith through Young Life. Bless the Lord for Jim! ($22, White Caps Media)

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Emerson and Smith

This seminal work, written now close to twenty years ago, sheds light on the role that evangelicals have played and continue to play in the area of race in America. It catalyzed an important conversation and further scholarship that needs be rooted in practice in the church and in ministries like Young Life. ($17, amazon.com)

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

This book was recommended to me by Ann Shackleton (VP of Human Resources) as we have been prayerfully and humbly navigating the issues of sexuality in our ministry. Wesley Hill, who has consulted with us on numerous occasions, writes a book that is sensitive, real and faithful in so many ways. ($11, amazon.com)

Humility by Andrew Murray

This short and deep treatise on humility was recommended most recently by Terry Looper, a longtime friend, former board member, and supporter of Young Life. Terry and I have had time to discuss how the Lord wants us to imitate our Savior in being humble servants. ($6, amazon.com)

The Prayer Covenant by Jerry Kirk

Jerry himself sent me a copy of his book about a year ago. Jerry met the Lord through Young Life, went on to become a staff member, a pastor of multiple churches and is the founder of “The 40 Day Prayer Covenant,” which as been a big blessing to me! ($12, amazon.com)

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

I was inspired to read Mandela’s profound autobiography prior to my visit to Africa and the Middle East in early 2017. It did not disappoint! His may be the best modern example of long obedience and sacrifice in the same direction that I have ever encountered. ($12, amazon.com)

A Secular Age by Charles Taylor

Winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize, this life’s work by a leading social philosopher provides the foundation upon which we understand how our western societies have become more secular and less believing in God over the centuries. My wife, Susan, gave me this to me for my birthday! ($16, amazon.com)

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carson

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As we remember the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination on April 4th, I would recommend everyone read (or re-read) this account of his life and work as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. ($11, amazon.com)

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