It’s that time of year again. College campuses are abuzz with energy and anticipation as another fall semester begins. Like so many, my life was changed in college. Yours may have been, too. The Lord Jesus loves to invade hearts and transform lives during the college years.

Ministering to college students has been one of the sweetest joys of my life. When I was a student, men like Dan Flynn, Anthony Gammage, Josh Earman, and Shelby Abbott took me under their wing and mentored me in the faith. After graduation I served as a full-time campus minister for two years, and have been involved with college ministry in some form ever since. 

Last year I highlighted several resources we’ve published at TGC on the challenges and joys of campus ministry. This year I’d like to recommend six books for three different groups of students: non-Christians willing to learn about Christianity, new Christians, and students serving on (or preparing for) a ministry leadership team. 

I should mention a few disclaimers. First, there’s no substitute for Scripture. College is an ideal time for devouring God’s Word. Encouraging students to read Scripture for themselves—to become biblically literate—is supremely important. (A daily devotional can be a helpful companion; Don Carson’s For the Love of God and Nancy Guthrie’s Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament are two great options. For further study help I’d suggest Rob Plummer’s 40 Questions About Interpeting the Bible, Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word, and the ESV Study Bible. Oops, I’m already recommending books. . . .) Second, people respond differently to different books. If a student you’re meeting with doesn’t resonate with one of the books, that’s fine. Just move on to another. Third, I don’t agree with everything in these books, nor is any one a magic bullet on its own. Finally, this list presupposes a Western context and reflects mostly contemporary works. I have in mind students like myself back in the day who are more likely to pick up books by recent and current authors.

Okay, here we go, in no particular order. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Non-Christians Willing to Learn About Christianity:

James Anderson, What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Appreach to Life’s Big Questions (Crossway)

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Harper)

Tim Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Riverhead)

Greg Gilbert, What Is the Gospel? (Crossway)

Tim Keller, Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions (Dutton)

N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World (Thomas Nelson)

New Christians:

Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible (InterVarsity)

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (Riverhead)

Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus (Crossway)

Michael Patton, Now That I’m a Christian: What It Means to Follow Jesus (Crossway)

Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (NavPress)

Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living, and Speaking the Gospel (InterVarsity)

Student Leaders:

Kevin DeYoung, Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Crossway)

J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity)

J. I. Packer, Evangelism and Sovereignty of God (InterVarsity)

John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah)

John Stott, The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity)

Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith (Zondervan)