Reading Guides

Important Discipleship and Formation Books – A Reading Guide – Fall 2020

Discipleship and Formation Books

It’s back-to-school time, and despite all the chaos this year imposed on us by the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s a good time to remember that as disciples of Jesus our schooling never ends.

We are always learning and being formed by our choices and by circumstances thrust upon us. Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, what are the practices that help keep us focused on the compassionate and just way of Jesus? These 40 recent books on discipleship and formation (published within the last three years or so) help us to wrestle with this question that lies at the heart of our Christian identity. Not all of these books will be relevant to every reader, but hopefully you will find one or two good books here to read or re-read as you (and the sisters and brothers of your church) press deeper in the coming year into the abundant life of Christ.

[ TOP 10 – Part 1 ]   [ Top 10 – Part 2 ] [ Slowing Down ]  [ Prayer ] [ Formed Together in Church ] [ Renewing Our Minds ] [ Other Practices ] [ Staying Focused ]

Page 1: TOP 10 – Part 1

(In Alphabetical Order by Author’s Last Name)


Discipleship and Formation Books

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved

Kate Bowler

An extraordinary memoir on how to live with cancer (to live with someone who has cancer).

Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live.


Discipleship and Formation Books

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts

Brene Brown

On the surface, this is a book on leadership, but on a deeper level it’s about about kind of people we need to become, and in that sense it is a book on formation that is deeply resonant with the way of Jesus. Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.  When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work.


Discipleship and Formation Books

Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks

Diana Butler Bass

Bass, author of the award-winning Grounded and ten other books on spirituality and culture, explores the transformative, subversive power of gratitude for our personal lives and in communities. Using her trademark blend of historical research, spiritual insights, and timely cultural observation, she shows how we can overcome this gap and make change in our own lives and in the world. With honest stories and heartrending examples from history and her own life, Bass reclaims gratitude as a path to greater connection with god, with others, with the world, and even with our own souls. It’s time to embrace a more radical practice of gratitude—the virtue that heals us and helps us thrive.


Discipleship and Formation Books

Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission

David Fitch

In Faithful Presence, noted pastor and scholar David Fitch offers a new vision for the witness of the church in the world. He argues that we have lost the intent and practice of the sacramental ways of the historic church, and he recovers seven disciplines that have been with us since the birth of the church. Through numerous examples and stories, he demonstrates how these revolutionary disciplines can help the church take shape in and among our neighborhoods, transform our way of life in the world, and advance the kingdom. This book will help you re-envision church, what you do in the name of church, and the way you lead a church.


Discipleship and Formation Books

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life

Tish Harrison-Warren

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.

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