Monday, October 03, 2011

Ten Books to Recommend for Discipleship

Discipleship is a much talked about topic in Churches that are concerned about spiritual growth. My Church is in the midst of engaging in how to inculcate a discipleship culture within the Church. It is tough. One of the ways is through reading. If you are involved in any forms of discipleship activities, I like to help. For a start, here are some of the books that you may want to consider for your Church. I have listed them in degrees of difficulty, 1 being most readable and 10 as most challenging.

1) Basic Christianity (IVP Classics)
(John Stott)

2) Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus (RE: Lit) (Bill Clem)

Based upon the need to become the image of God that we are called to be, Clem passionately argues for disciples to imitate Christ, and to see discipleship from the standpoint of Jesus. This is one of the best books on discipleship to be published this year.

3) Discipleship (Hodder Christian Books)

This is a classic work on discipleship that every Christian ought to have on his bookshelves. It calls one to imitate Christ, to deny oneself, to take up one's cross, and to follow Christ.

4) A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society
(Eugene Peterson)

Going through the Song of Ascents, this is an insightful work that weaves in biblical truths in the midst of an American culture of consumerism, materialism, and hedonism. He is concerned about modern Christians who fail to pray the Psalms. the author shares two convictions as he writes this book. Firstly, practical discipleship is possible. Secondly, it is important to weave in Christian living with consistent Bible and prayerfulness.

5) Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ
(Greg Ogden)

This book is a guide for both individual study as well as group discussion. Comprising four basic parts, Part one deals with the personal spiritual disciplines that we are familiar with. Part Two deals with the important message that the disciple of Christ needs to hear, so that one knows the foundations in which to begin a path of deeper discipleship, and to build one's life on the Rock: Christ. Part Three details the practical ways and Part Four suggests some ways in which our discipleship can be transformed into external demonstration of Christlikeness.

6) Becoming a Healthy Disciple: Ten Traits of a Vital Christian
(Stephen Macchia)

This easy to follow guide speaks not just to new Christians but for all believers. As a followup to his very successful series on Becoming a Healthy Church, Macchia expands the characteristics to the art of disciplemaking. Macchia defines the healthy disciple as one who "is prayerful in all aspects of personal life and ministry and reliant upon God's power and the authority of his Word." (18)

7) Spiritual Discipleship: Principles of Following Christ for Every Believer
(J Oswald Sanders)

This classic by a man made famous by his work on Spiritual Leadership. In simple language, Sanders calls the disciple to put biblical principles into everyday life, not through the 'mechanics' of discipleship, but the incorporation of 'principles' into everyday living.

8) Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
(Donald S. Whitney)

Whitney ties in discipleship with the purpose of holiness. Whether in Bible study, prayer, worship, evangelism, service, stewardship, fasting, solitude, silence, journaling, he integrates all of these spiritual disciplines with the one goal of being holy like God, for God is holy.

9) The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Bonhoeffer does not mince his words in this breathtaking call to one to take up the cross, and follow Jesus. His famous words still lives after his passing: "When Christ calls a man, He bidst us come and die." This book is not for the faint-hearted, but from the deepest urge of a martyr, who practiced what he preached.

10) Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor
(David Augsburger)

I like this book for its sheer scholarship and depth in terms of weaving discipleship with God's greatest commandment to love God, neighbour and self. Discipleship is about the PRACTICE of this through Christ, in community, with obedience, in humility, with utter perseverance in peace-making, continued service, faithful witness, and subversive discipleship. This book may be heavy for some readers, but if one has the patience and time to go through it, it is certainly rewarding.




Timothy P said...

Would like to suggest any of Bill Hull's writings, e.g. his whole Disciple-Making series (Church, Pastor, etc). His latest is The Complete Book of Discipleship, NavPress, 2006.

Paul Widmark said...

I struggle with the premise that the more you know and put in place spiritual disciplines the more mature you are in Christ. I am thoroughly convinced that grace brings an encounter with reality of a living God who's full expression of love and salvation is found in Jesus, and this encounter feeds our hunger to intimately know (yƔda) Him. This the fertile soil of discipleship.
The how is the mysterious point, but the answer I believe is found in the intimacy of relationships - with the Holy Spirit and each other. Greg Ogdens book, "Transforming Discipleship: Making a few at a time" resonated within my spirit.

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