Reading Guides

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

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 6: Renewing Our Words

Transforming the ways we think and talk about ourselves, our faith, and the world.

(In Alphabetical Order by Author’s Last Name)



How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds

Alan Jacobs

In this smart, endlessly entertaining book, Jacobs diagnoses the many forces that act on us to prevent thinking—forces that have only worsened in the age of Twitter, “alternative facts,” and information overload—and he also dispels the many myths we hold about what it means to think well. (For example: It’s impossible to “think for yourself.”) Jacobs digs into the nuts and bolts of the cognitive process, offering hope that each of us can reclaim our mental lives from the impediments that plague us all. Because if we can learn to think together, maybe we can learn to live together, too.



Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing–and How We Can Revive Them

Jonathan Merritt

*** Our 2018 Book of the Year!!!

After Jonathan moved from the Bible Belt to New York City, he discovered that whenever conversations turned to spirituality, the words he’d used for decades didn’t  connect with listeners anymore. In a search for answers and understanding, Jonathan uncovered a spiritual crisis affecting tens of millions.  In this groundbreaking book, one of America’s premier religion writers revives ancient expressions through cultural commentary, vulnerable personal narratives, and surprising biblical insights. Both provocative and liberating, Learning to Speak God from Scratch will breathe new life into your spiritual conversations and lure you into the embrace of the God who inhabits them.



Surprised by Paradox: The Promise of “And” in an Either-Or World

Jen Pollock Michel

In a world filled with ambiguity, many of us long for a belief system that provides straightforward answers to complex questions and clarity in the face of confusion. We want faith to act like an orderly set of truth-claims designed to solve the problems and pain that life throws at us. With signature candor and depth, Jen Pollock Michel helps readers imagine a Christian faith open to mystery. 



How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church

C. Christopher Smith

Smith likens practicing conversation to the working of the human body. Bodies are wondrous symphonies of diverse, intricate parts striving for our health, and our health suffers when these parts fail to converse effectively. Likewise, we must learn to converse effectively with those who differ from us in the body of Christ so we can embody Christ together in the world. In community, we learn what it means to belong to others and to a story that is bigger than ourselves. Smith shows how church communities can be training hubs where we learn to talk with and listen to one another with kindness and compassion. 



The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships

Suzanne Stabile

Most of us have no idea how others see or process their experiences. And that can make relationships hard, whether with intimate partners, with friends, or in our professional lives. Understanding the motivations and dynamics of these different personality types can be the key that unlocks sometimes mystifying behavior in others―and in ourselves. This book from Suzanne Stabile on the nine Enneagram types and how they behave and experience relationships will guide readers into deeper insights about themselves, their types, and others’ personalities so that they can have healthier, more life-giving relationships.

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