Good Books for Discipleship
In light of our mission to advance a shared commitment to Christian belief and practice across cultural, denominational, and racial lines, here are some helpful books on a variety of topics that are appropriate for personal or group studies. Click on the book image for more information.
The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us
by Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger
(recommended by Dorothy Greco)
How can we translate the practices of "radical" faith into a non-urban context? Two couples embark on a yearlong experiment to implement twelve small practices of radical faith. This book is old with humor, theological reflection, and practical insight, exploring such practices as simplicity, hospitality, accountability, sustainability, and social justice--but, most of all, discernment. Along the way readers will consider how God might be calling them to embark on their own year of small but radical changes, right where God has planted them.
Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves
by Trillia Newbell
We will never be short on fears. Failure, rejection, sickness, losing a loved one, being alone—the fears we carry are many and heavy. Fear can be a tyrant, a bully we can’t hide from. It can paralyze our spirit, damage our relationships, and hinder our faith.
Trillia is no stranger to fear. She has known its harsh grip on her life, but she has also known the gentle hand of God, a peace and a faith from the One who conquers fears.
In Fear and Faith, Trillia will encourage you as she reflects on Scripture and her own story. She will show you Jesus, who was tempted like you in every way. She will show you the character of God and how it inspires faith. And she will show you real women who have walked the road of fear—or are still walking it—and how they have found security in the Lord to be their strength. Whatever your fear, you are not alone, nor are you without hope. You have the One who can replace your fear with faith.
Nailed It: 365 Readings for Angry or Worn-Out People
By Anne Kennedy
Stuck again? Bible Reading Plan not working out?Everyone gets stuck. Nailed It: 365 Sarcastic Devotions for Angry or Worn-Out People can help “unstick” you: offering just a few brief verses for each day, you’ll encounter biblical men and women like you—desperately in need of God—and also find encounters with God himself, and how he sought you out in spite of yourself. And you’ll discover anew that the Bible is worth every minute you devote to it.
With a devotional for every day of the year, Anne Kennedy will guide you through the Bible—the whole Bible—helping you turn your eyes towards Jesus with every step.
Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose Through Intentional Discipleship
Though churches are filled with good ministry programming--activities, outreach events,and an endless selection of options--many churches neglect their fundamental mission: to make disciples and equip them for service. All humans are asking the same fundamental question: "What is my life's purpose?" Through the pursuit of Christ and with a focus on his kingdom work, we find the answer to that question. Mentoring for God's kingdom helps us find our purpose and prepares us to lead well.
In Mentor for Life, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson lays a solid foundation for mentoring as intentional discipleship, within the context of a small community. It is based on God's kingdom vision, and challenge followers of Christ to consider the cost of discipleship.
Mentor for Life shows how to develop mentoring relationships that function communally in existing small groups that are diverse and inclusive. It also presents a mentoring framework of knowing and loving God, understanding our identity in Christ, and loving our neighbor, which encourages theological reflection and cultivates a basic Christian worldview.
Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith
by Jen Pollock Michel
2015 Christianity Today Book of the Year. As Christians, we're squeamish about desire. Isn't wanting sinful and selfish? Aren't we supposed to find and follow Gods will rather than insisting upon our own? The story of each person is a story of want―desires unmet, hopes dashed, passions pursued and ambitions fulfilled. Our wants cannot be ignored. But when desire is informed by Scripture and re-formed by our spiritual practices, it can root us more deeply in the fundamental belief that God is good and generous and can invite us into active kingdom participation.
Jen Pollock Michel guides us on a journey of understanding who we are when we want, and reintroduces us to a God who gives us the desires of our hearts. That same good God calls us into a new reality in which we seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and we discover our disordered desires burned away while our truest longings are happily fulfilled and purified. The disciples asked Jesus to "Teach us to pray." This book asks, "Teach us to want."
Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home
by Jen Pollock Michel
To be human is to long for home. Home is our most fundamental human longing. And for many of us homesickness is a nagging place of grief. This book connects that desire and disappointment with the story of the Bible, helping us to see that there is a homemaking God with wide arms of welcome―and a church commissioned with this same work. "Many of us seem to be recovering the sacred, if ordinary, beauty of place," writes author Jen Pollock Michel. "Perhaps we're reading along with Wendell Berry, falling in love with Berry's small-town barber and Jayber Crow's small-town life. . . . Or maybe we're simply reading our Bibles better, discovering that while we might wish to flatten Scripture to serve our didactic purposes, it rises up in flesh and sinew, muscle and bone: God's holy story is written in the lives of people and their places." Including a five-session discussion guide and paired with a companion DVD, Keeping Place offers hope to the wanderer, help to the stranded, and a new vision of what it means to live today with our longings for our eternal home.
Made For More: An Invitation to Live in God's Image
By Hannah Anderson
In an uncertain world, we crave the security of knowing exactly who we are and where we belong. But too often as women, we try to find this safety in our roles and relationships, our professional accomplishments, or our picture-perfect homes. And as we do, our souls shrink smaller and smaller. It's because these things aren't made to hold us.
In Made for More, Hannah Anderson invites you to re-imagine yourself, not simply as a set of roles and categories, but as a person destined to live in the fullness of God Himself.
Starting with our first identity as image bearers, Hannah shows how Jesus Christ makes us people who can reflect His nature through our unique callings. She also explores how these deeper truths affect the practical realties that we face as women—how does being an image bearer shape our pursuit of education, our work, and even our desire for holistic lives?
Because you are made in God’s image, you will only ever know yourself—only ever be yourself—as you find your identity in Him. Find it now.
Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul
By Hannah Anderson
Feeling worn thin? Come find rest.
The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through miles of rolling Virginia mountains. It’s a route made famous by natural beauty and the simple rhythms of rural life.
And it’s in this setting that Hannah Anderson began her exploration of what it means to pursue a life of peace and humility. Fighting back her own sense of restlessness and anxiety, she finds herself immersed in the world outside, discovering a classroom full of forsythia, milkweed, and a failed herb garden. Lessons about soil preparation, sour mulch, and grapevine blights reveal the truth about our dependence on God, finding rest, and fighting discontentment.
Humble Roots is part theology of incarnation and part stroll through the fields and forest. Anchored in the teaching of Jesus, Anderson explores how cultivating humility—not scheduling, strict boundaries, or increased productivity—leads to peace. “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus invites us, “and you will find rest for your souls.”
So come. Learn humility from the lilies of the field and from the One who is humility Himself. Remember who you are and Who you are not, and rediscover the rest that comes from belonging to Him.
All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment
By Hannah Anderson
“And God saw that it was good…”
Look out over the world today, it seems a far cry from God’s original declaration. Pain, conflict, and uncertainty dominate the headlines. Our daily lives are noisy and chaotic—filled with too much information and too little wisdom. No wonder we often find it easier to retreat into safe spaces, hunker down in likeminded tribes, and just do our best to survive life.
But what if God wants you to do more than simply survive? What if he wants you to thrive in this world, and be part of its redemption? What if you could rediscover the beauty and goodness God established in the beginning?
By learning the lost art of discernment, you can. Discernment is more than simply avoiding bad things; discernment actually frees you to navigate the world with confidence and joy by teaching you how to recognize and choose good things. When you learn discernment and develop a taste for all that’s good, you will encounter God in remarkable new ways. Come, discover the God who not only made all things, but who will also make all things good once again.
Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life
by Tish Harrison Warren
Christianity Today's 2018 Book of the Year
In the overlooked moments and routines of our day, we can become aware of God's presence in surprising ways. How do we embrace the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred?
Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us. Each chapter looks at something―making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys―that the author does every day. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship.
Come and discover the holiness of your every day.
Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity
All of us have a little wanderlust—a desire for that next thing, that new place, but this competes with our longings for security, control, and safety. We don’t like how it feels to be unsettled and uprooted. Whether we’re navigating a season of transition, dealing with the fallout of broken relationships, or wrestling with a deep sense of restlessness, we are all experiencing some form of exile. And most of us do whatever we can to numb the feelings of unbelonging, powerlessness, and unsettledness that come with it. But the truth is that exile has a profound purpose if we can just learn to lean in.
Scripture tells us that the people of God are exiles and wanderers. And this is good news because exile is what transforms us into pilgrims. In Christ, we are no longer directionless wanderers, but pilgrim followers who have a clear purpose and a secure identity. If you keep chasing security, you’ll never find it. Embrace the purpose behind the wandering and discover the freedom and safety of resting in God alone.
Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It's Not about You
We live in a culture that's all about self, becoming the best "me" I can be instead of becoming like Jesus. This me-centered message affects every area of our lives--our friendships, our marriages, even our faith--and it breaks each one in different ways. The self-focused life robs our joy, shrinks our souls, and is the reason we never quite break free of insecurity.
Free of Me invites us into a bigger, Jesus-centered vision--one that restores our freedom and inspires us to live for more. Anyone yearning for a purpose bigger than "project me" will cherish this paradigm-shifting message of true fulfillment.
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry
By Ruth Haley Barton
"I'm tired of helping others enjoy God―I just want to enjoy God for myself." With this painful admission, Ruth Haley Barton invites us to an honest exploration of what happens when spiritual leaders lose track of their souls. Weaving together contemporary illustrations with penetrating insight from the life of Moses, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership explores topics such as responding to the dynamics of calling, facing the loneliness of leadership, and discerning God's will together.
Each chapter includes a spiritual practice to ensure your soul gets the nourishment it needs. Forging and maintaining a life-giving connection with God is the best choice you can make for yourself and for those you lead. This expanded edition includes a new appendix for self-evaluation, "How Is It with Your Soul?" and a flexible six- or twelve-week discussion guide for groups.
Organic Ministry to Women: A Guide to Transformational Ministry With Next Generation Women
By Sue Edwards and Kelley Matthews
Authors Sue Edwards and Kelley Mathews explain how to energize women of all ages and all backgrounds to do the work of the gospel. Their Transformational Model of Ministry is a versatile, multi-generational women's ministry centered on Bible study as the only source of true life change. Organic Ministry to Women is packed with practical advice and real-life illustrations.
Becoming Sage: Cultivating Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality in Midlife
By Michelle Van Loon
Why Do We Act Like There Is An Age Restriction on Spiritual Growth?
For the last several decades, Western churches have focused the bulk of their resources on the early stages of discipleship—children’s Sunday school, youth group, college ministry. While these are all important, we have neglected the spiritual growth of those in the second half of life. In fact, an outside observer might think that after the growth of the college years, the goal is simply to coast through the rest of your Christian life.
Michelle Van Loon has a different idea. In Becoming Sage, she challenges those in midlife and beyond to continue pursuing radical spiritual growth, and she’ll help you get started. She explores what the unique challenges of midlife can teach us about Jesus and how to think about everything from church, friends, and family, to money, bodies, and meaning. Don’t settle for a life of coasting. Revitalize your spiritual growth today.
Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God
Everyone has to wait at some point, and some waits are longer, some more desperate, than others. We often see periods of waiting as ineffectual idleness, but what if waiting could be something else? Scripture tells us time and again to wait on the Lord. How might he use it in our lives? Through personal narrative, scriptural stories, poems and paintings, this book examines great hope in waiting and the gift that, perhaps, God intends it to be.
Beyond the Roles: A Biblical Foundation for Women and Ministry
Theology matters and our ministry to women must be grounded in a biblical understanding of what God’s Word says about the issues we face. Beyond the Roles brings together an ethnically and generationally diverse group of authors to respond to contemporary issues. Collectively, they remind us of the importance of ministry rooted in the gospel truths and they give us the tools to contextualize our ministries while remaining anchored to God’s Word. Join Pey Chu, Sarah Ivill, Vanessa Hawkins, Cathy Chang, Stephanie Formenti, Abby Hutto, Karen Ellis, Ellen Dykas, Christina Fox, Jenny Jun, Maria Garriott, and others as they help us respond biblically to the issues we face as we minster to women. Real life ministry is challenging and we need biblical truth to focus us on the eternal.