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 8: Staying Focused

(In Alphabetical Order by Author’s Last Name)



The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction

Justin Whitmel Earley

Habits form us more than we form them. The modern world is a machine of a thousand invisible habits, forming us into anxious, busy, and depressed people. We yearn for the freedom and peace of the gospel, but remain addicted to our technology, shackled by our screens, and exhausted by our routines. But because our habits are the water we swim in, they are almost invisible to us. What can we do about it? The answer to our contemporary chaos is to practice a rule of life that aligns our habits to our beliefs.



The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You

Shannan Martin

For Christ-followers living in an increasingly complicated world, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to live a life of intention and meaning. Where do we even begin? Shannan Martin offers a surprisingly simple answer: uncover the hidden corners of our cities and neighborhoods and invest deeply in the lives of people around us. She walks us through her own discoveries about the vital importance of paying attention, as well as the hard but rewarding truth about showing up and committing for the long haul, despite the inevitable encounters with brokenness and uncertainty.



Make a List: How a Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts

Marilyn McEntyre

In Make a List teacher, writer, and wordsmith Marilyn McEntyre shows readers how the simple act of writing a list can open doors to personal discovery and spiritual growth. Deepening her reflections with abundant writing prompts and real-life examples, McEntyre turns the humble list into a work of art—one that has the power to clear minds, open hearts, and change lives. 


Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Cal Newport

Newport shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude. Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you. This book shows the way.


How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy 

Jenny Odell

In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives. Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.

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