I recently posted a blog saying how much I enjoyed reading the biography of Maud Kells and how my library which is now 1,000+ only had around 40-50 biographies. As I said back then, that is not a good ratio!

I am a little bit of a Church History fan. I enjoy reading stories and testimonies of old churchmen, ministers and missionaries and learning from their experience. If we neglect to look into history we rob ourselves of tremendous opportunities to learn and grow in our understanding of what God has done.

But I realise that not everyone is like me. Not everyone is ready or willing to pick up a long book and wrestle with people or events in the history of the Church. Many people today want a summary or a shorter introduction to a person to whet their appetite. Therefore, here are two books that you might find helpful.

A beginners guide to Church History
A beginner’s guide to Church history
by Philip Parsons

Church history is a vast topic to cover in just a few pages, many authors have attempted it and done a good job.But it is like approaching Mount Everest with a pair of trainers. I think that many people would benefit from a basic understanding of Church history, but often the overview books can be long, academic and boring. This one is not!

This book is a beginner’s guide; it does not go not great detail, it doesn’t not cover every section of the Church but it gives you a good starting point to whet your appetite to maybe look at some more of the bigger volumes of Church history. I find overviews helpful because they can put periods and people across your path that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about which leads to further reading and research. For example, because of this book I would like to research more about how the Gospel went to and grew in Korea.

This book gives a balanced view of Church history and takes you from Acts 2 to today in 169 pages. There were areas where I would have liked more detail, or elements of history that I think are important that were maybe missed out. However, that’s the nature of an overview! If you’re looking for a basic understanding or an introductory to Church history, this book is a good start why not buy it here and get cracking?!?

Philip Parsons has a degree in Electronics Engineering and worked in Defence Electrics for 29 years. Church history has been a hobby of his for more than 50 years.

Rating 3/5

The second book is not an introductory to Church history but a biography of Mr. Rowland Hill.

Rowland Hill—The second Whitefield
Rowland Hill—The second Whitefield by Tim Shenton

There are authors who write very long books describing the lives of God’s servants down the years and then those who write shorter more accessible ones. Tim Shenton has done both!

This book published by Day One is an abridgement of Tim’s longer book (704 pages) published by Reformation Heritage Books. Truth be told I had never heard of Rowland Hill before, shocking I know!

He was a man who preached the gospel to thousands of people, a man who pleaded with people to listen to and respond to the gospel of Jesus. But his life was not always pretty. His parents disliked (almost despised) his convictions, people threw vegetables and stones at him when he preached and he was criticised by many people in his life time.

Hill was converted in his teens through the witnessing of his brother and sister who would go on, later in life, to be his biggest supporters in his family. But despite all of his struggles and opposition, Tim Shenton writes…

“he was too determined to serve Christ to give in to threats”

Not only did his family disagree with his preaching and doctrine but he was close to being banished from university for his preaching. We probably wouldn’t agree with all of his actions, or his approach to certain things, but he was a man who preached the Word of God to thousands of people and called people to repentance.

in 168 pages (reduced from 704!) Tim Shenton takes you through the life of Rowland Hill with all of the ups and downs, the joys and struggles and presents you with a fallen human being who pointed people to Jesus. Why not grab a copy here and look at Hill’s life and thank God for men like him who stood and still stand firm for the gospel of Jesus in a world which hates Him?!?

Tim Shenton is a retired head teachers and pastor, who lives in Bournemouth, England. He is married with two daughters. He has written over 20 books and researched extensively on church history, specialising in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rating 4/5

I would love it if off the back of this post you went and did a bit of reading into the history of the Church. You’ll learn so much, you’ll read stories of blessing and danger and you’ll come away praising God for the wonderful things He has done.