For a number of years now in December I’ve been recommending 10 books to inspire for the year ahead. These are books I’ve read over the last year which I hope will encourage and equip disciples for a life of following Jesus in the 21st Century. This year I’m writing two: one for each of my blogs. So this one – in this Discipleship Blog – recommends 10 Good Discipleship Books whilst my Leadership Blog recommends 10 Good Leadership Books (for those seeking to lead others well). As usual, this is not a Top Ten countdown, so there’s no order of preference. Just ten books that are good. I hope you find books here that you’ll take time to prayerfully read – as a good book has the capacity to change our minds, hearts, wills and ways. Come Holy Spirit, and change us.
So here we go – 10 Good Discipleship Books for 2018.
1. Tania Harris’ God Conversations
Part memoir, part teaching, Australian Harris writes an interesting and easy-to-read book describing her journey of learning to hear the voice of God. Full of stories, humour and practical insights, this is an inspiring and positive book for anyone who wants to hear more clearly from God.
2. David Watson’s You are my God
I chose to re-read David Watson’s autobiography this year and was reminded of his inspiring life-story and how he began the work at St Cuthbert’s and St Michael le Belfrey in York and impacted so many people. I was struck again by his honesty and humility – and his deep love for Christ and church. If you’ve never read this 1983 classic, pick up a second hand copy as it’s well worth a read.
3. Bill Johnson’s Face to Face with God
In 2015 Johnson updated his 2007 book on what it means to encounter God face to face. This is a thoughtful and challenging book, encouraging disciples to pursue God’s presence with intent. ‘This quest’ writes Johnson, ‘is the ultimate quest. But to embrace the quest for the face of God, one must be ready to die. Thus, this quest is not for the faint of heart. It is too costly to pursue from mere curiosity.’ Enjoy!
4. Ed Shaw’s The Plausibility Problem
This is a must-read for anyone who takes the bible seriously and wants some help navigating the debate on gay marriage and same-sex attraction. Writing with compassion, insight and great wisdom as one who is same-sex attracted, Shaw has done the church a great favour in writing The Plausibility Problem. I thoroughly recommend it, not just because Ed is my cousin’s son, but because this is a timely and prophetic resource for disciples.
5. Heidi Baker’s Compelled by Love
Whilst Baker has written a number of books since this was published in 2008, I chose to re-read this book earlier this year, wanting to be reminded and inspired again by Baker’s vision of Christ’s people being filled with compassion, reaching out and bringing transformation to the poorest people on the planet, motivated by Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). I was not disappointed.
6. George M Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) was a preacher, philosopher and revivalist whose influence was, and still is immense. Having read a number of his books and a few lighter biographies, I tackled George Marsden’s definitive 2003 biography of Edwards and felt I really got to know Edwards. If you love revival history and are willing to learn more about the ups and downs of church leadership, theology and natural philosophy, then give Marsden’s epic a go!
7. Randy Clark’s Lighting Fires
We had the privilege of hosting Randy Clark at The Belfrey a year ago. In this auto-biographical book, Clark tells the story of how God has used him to spark the flames of revival in many people and places. Simply and honestly written, this is a fascinating and insightful read.
8. Carl Medearis’ Speaking of Jesus
I enjoyed this book on how to simply tell people about Jesus. Medearis isn’t interested in keeping the Christian religion alive; rather he wants people to discover the wonder of Christ. By the end he may have over-stated his point about organised religion, but his heart to love people and share Christ is powerful and attractive. Whilst written mainly for a US audience, there’s much wisdom to apply here in UK on how to talk about Christ in 21st century culture.
9. Beni Johnson’s The Happy Intercessor
Many books on intercession are rather heavy and intense. This book is different, as Beni Johnson’s approach to prayer is that it should be joyful. It’s an easy read, telling of her journey into intercession and how she prays and intercedes with others. A fresh, happy and attractive approach to intercession, this is a must-read for all committed to a life of prayer.
10. The Bible
I’ve continued this year to read the Bible every morning when I wake up. As a church leader I also use it as my main resource during the rest of the day. In my daily readings, I’ve especially enjoyed the Book of Proverbs this year – full of wisdom and prophetic insight. But it’s all good. The whole Bible. Because it is God’s Word. It should be every disciple’s top read. Every day. Every year. So I commend it to you, yet again.
So there were have it. Another year’s offering. Some may have wondered why I haven’t included my book, A-Z of Discipleship. I thought about it, but it felt kind of weird recommending my own book! That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s any good (!) – but it’s probably better for others to commend it. So if you’ve not yet read it and are interested, you can look at some of the reviews on Amazon, or chat to someone you know who’s read it.
Whatever you read in 2018, may your minds be renewed (Romans 12:2) as you ‘fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable’ (Philippians 4:8).