I’ve always been intrigued that the word “disciple” comes from origins that meant “learner.”
Our call to Christian discipleship then is a call to learn what it means to follow in the way of Jesus and to grow deeper in our faithfulness to this way. We need guides on this journey, fellow travelers who have walked portions of this road and can share their wisdom.
We’ve already suggested a few social justice books worth reading this fall, but as you put together your reading list, here are 10 new books (plus one bonus book) that point us in the direction of a deeper Christian faith to consider including. Some of these books were released within the last year, others will be coming out this fall.
The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice—How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave, and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life
by Michael Yankoski (Thomas Nelson)
In The Sacred Year, Yankoski artfully narrates his own story, guiding us on a pilgrimage with him as he explores a multitude of spiritual practices—including attentiveness, creativity, solitude, Sabbath, gratitude and many more—that usher us into a deeper life with ourselves, with God and with one another.
The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines.
by Nathan Foster (Baker Books)
Foster, the son of Richard J. Foster who wrote the classic book Celebration of Discipline, sets out to explore the spiritual disciplines in the 21st century. Living in the shadow of his father’s work, he describes his own struggles to practice these disciplines and how he ultimately came to find a rich joy in them.
Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now
by Walter Brueggemann (WJK Books)
Amidst the fast pace of Western Culture in the 21st century, Sabbath is one of the most difficult practices for us to learn. Celebrated Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann makes a compelling case for why we should do so and explores the social benefits that might emerge from practicing Sabbath.
This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems
by Wendell Berry (Counterpoint Press)
Reading poetry is its own sort of spiritual discipline and what better place to start than the Sabbath poems of Wendell Berry? This Day is the complete collection of Berry’s Sabbath poetry to date. These poems emerged out of Berry’s own longstanding practice of Sabbath, and the attentiveness to the land and creatures that he encounters on his Kentucky farm.
Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door
by Barbara Mahany (Abingdon Press)
Slowing Time is a very practical guide to learning how to slow down and be attentive to the abundant gifts of God that surround us at any given moment. By probing deeply the nooks and crannies of the home-front, Mahany points out that the reader need not venture far to find what matters most. And the questions stirred will linger, long after the page is turned.
Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith
by Jen Pollock Michel (IVP Books)
Teach us to Want is a compelling mix of personal narrative and biblical reflection that ever-so-gently nudges us into deeper contemplation of our desires, the God who created us to desire and the ends towards which our desires are driving us.
Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart
by Christena Cleveland (IVP Books)
The Modern age has been one of fragmentation, and an important part of growing deeper in Christ is an increasing attentiveness to the divides that separate us and learning not to impede the reconciling work that God intends to do. In Disunity in Christ, Christena Cleveland keenly points out why Christians who have a heart for unity have such a hard time actually uniting, and offers wisdom on how we might begin to listen to and work with others who differ from us.
We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation
by Brian McLaren (Jericho Books)
Brian McLaren offers 52 brief, weekly readings that immerse us in the biblical story and that guide us toward a deeper and more active faith in our particular places. We Make the Road by Walking offers everything you need to explore what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in our world today. It also puts tools in your hands to create a life-changing learning community in any home, restaurant, or other welcoming space.
Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice
by Belden Lane (Oxford University Press)
Lane tells his own story of hiking through the American Southwest with little more than a backpack and a collection of classic spiritual writings. Backpacking with the Saints is an inspiring exploration of how solitude, simplicity and mindfulness are illuminated and encouraged by the discipline of backcountry wandering, and of how the wilderness itself becomes a way of knowing-an ecology of the soul.
Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity
by Jen Hatmaker (NavPress)
Interrupted tells the story of how God grabbed Hatmaker’s attention and guided her—and her family—out of a comfortable consumer Christianity. It is also an invitation for us all to follow on a similar course into a deeper life shaped by the reconciling mission of God.
BONUS: Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus
by John Pattison and C. Christopher Smith (IVP Books)
I’m including this book as a bonus on this list, because I co-wrote it and am obviously biased about whether it belongs here. Check out this review and decide for yourself whether Slow Church is a helpful resource for cultivating a deeper faith.
C. Christopher Smith lives and writes as part of the Englewood Christian Church community on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis, where he is the Senior Editor of The Englewood Review of Books. Chris is co-author of the award-winning book Slow Church (2014), author of Reading for the Common Good (2016), and is presently finishing a book manuscript with the working title, Conversational Bodies: A Field Guide for the Journey Toward Belonging.