What follows are a few books that we highly recommend each person read for the sake of spiritual growth and discipleship. Of course, the Bible goes without saying and is the book we should spend time in every single day and throughout every single day (reading, studying, praying, meditating, and memorizing). There are also many other great resources, though, that can help in both your understanding of God’s Word and in your application of God’s Word. The books listed here do not comprise an exhaustive list but rather are books that we recommend because they are being used in discipleship accountability groups in our church family, because we have used them in the past for small group Bible studies, and/or because they are simply great resources for spiritual growth.
Used by our weekly discipleship accountability groups (DAGs), Growing Up is a great resource that we recommend to every believer who is serious about being a disciple who makes disciples. And, for those who are not yet serious about this essential task, we recommend you read it and get serious. Practical, challenging and easy to read, Growing Up provides you with an interactive manual and resource for creating and working with DAGs, allowing you to gain positive information both for yourself and for others as you learn how to help others become better disciples for Christ.
If you are serious about being a disciple of Jesus Christ—really, truly serious—a DAG can help you achieve that goal. Jesus established this model for us by forming and leading the first discipleship group—and it worked. The men who emerged from that group took the gospel to the world and ultimately laid down their lives for Christ.
DAGs can create an atmosphere for fellowship, encouragement, and accountability—building an environment where God can work. In Growing Up, Robby Gallaty presents a practical, easy-to-implement system for growing in one’s faith. This guide offers a manual for making disciples, addressing the what, why, where, and how of discipleship. D-Groups, as Gallaty calls them, can teach you and others how to grow your relationship with God, how to defend your faith, and how to guide others in their relationships with God.
If you are interested in joining or starting a DAG, please contact us. Also, if you are interested in purchasing this book, you can click on the picture of the book.
A book that our Wednesday night adults’ Bible study fellowship went through a few years ago, The Prodigal God is an amazing resource that will challenge and sharpen your faith in powerful ways. Next the the Bible itself, this is probably the most influential book Pastor Nick has ever read. He cannot recommend it enough to every single person, Christian or not, who is willing to read it. While author Timothy Keller is brilliant, his writing is easy to read and practical for every person searching for truth and wanting to have a closer relationship with God.
Newsweek called Keller “a C.S. Lewis for the twenty-first century” in a feature on his first book, The Reason for God. In that book, he offered a rational explanation of why we should believe in God. Now, in The Prodigal God, Keller takes his trademark intellectual approach to understanding Christianity and uses the parable of the prodigal son to reveal an unexpected message of hope and salvation.
Within that parable Jesus reveals God’s prodigal grace toward both the irreligious and the moralistic. This book will challenge both the devout and skeptics to see Christianity in a whole new way.
Please take the time to read this incredible book. You can order it online or find it in many bookstores.
A few years ago, Pastor Nick preached through a sermon series on Sunday mornings called “Habits for Godly Living.” Covering eight of the biblical disciplines for the Christian life discussed thoroughly in Donald Whitney’s book, Nick recommended everyone read this book, too.
It’s not uncommon for an accomplished musician to be able to sit down in front of a new piece of music and play it though without a hitch. It seems easy, as if playing required no effort. Yet, the ‘freedom’ to play with such skill comes only after years of disciplined practice.
In the same way, the freedom to grow in godliness–to naturally express Christ’s character through your own personality–is in large part dependent on a deliberate cultivation of the spiritual disciplines.
Far from being legalistic, restrictive, or binding, as they are often perceived, the spiritual disciplines are actually the means to unparalleled spiritual liberty.
So if you’d like to embark on a lifelong quest for godliness, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life will help you on your way. Drawn from the rich heritage left us by the Puritan writers and from the wealth of other evangelical spiritual giants—and Jesus Christ Himself-—Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines, including:
- Scripture Reading & Study
- Scripture Meditation
- Stewardship of Time and Money
- Scripture Application
- Silence & Solitude
By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how each one will help you grow in godliness, and offering practical suggestions for cultivating them on a long-term basis, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life will provide you with a refreshing opportunity to embrace life’s greatest pursuit—the pursuit of holiness—through a lifelong delight in the disciplines.
Used in the past by our Wednesday night adults’ Bible study fellowship, The Master Plan of Evangelism is an excellent resource not only for proclaiming the gospel but also for discipleship in general. We recommend everyone read this book.
For more than forty years this classic study has challenged and instructed more than 1.5 million readers in reaching the world for Christ. With a foreword by Billy Graham and now repackaged for a new generation of readers, The Master Plan of Evangelism will show every Christian how to minister to the people God brings into their lives. Instead of drawing on the latest popular fad or the newest selling technique, Robert E. Coleman looks to the Bible to find the answer to the question, What was Christ’s strategy for evangelism? Through a thorough examination of the gospel accounts, Coleman points out unchanging, simple, yet profound biblical principles of how to emulate Christ to others.
If you are interested in purchasing this book, you click on the picture of the book. We still have a few copies available for purchase ($5) at our church facility.
Although not a part of any current weekly studies, Gospel is a book that was transformational in Pastor Nick’s life and one he recommends every believer and truth-seeker reads. You’ll laugh at author J.D. Greear’s great stories and be compelled by his explanation of biblical truth.
Could the gospel be lost in evangelical churches? In this book, Greear shows how moralism and legalism have often eclipsed the gospel, even in conservative churches. Gospel cuts through the superficiality of religion and reacquaints you with the revolutionary truth of God’s gracious acceptance of us in Christ. The gospel is the power of God, and the only true source of joy, freedom, radical generosity, and audacious faith. The gospel produces in us what religion never could: a heart that desires God.
The book’s core is a “gospel prayer” by which you can saturate yourself in the gospel daily. Dwelling on the gospel will release in you new depths of passion for God and take you to new heights of obedience to Him. Gospel gives you an applicable, exciting vision of how God will use you to bring His healing to the world.
You won’t regret taking the time to read this practical, challenging, encouraging and easy-to-read book. You can order it online by clicking on the picture of the book itself and also through many other websites and bookstores.
The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, “Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn’t work in Somalia.”
Author Nik Ripken recalls that, “God had always been so real to me, to Ruth, and to our boys. But was He enough, for the utter weariness of soul I experienced at that time, in that place, under those circumstances?” It is a question that many have asked and one that, if answered, can lead us to a whole new world of faith.
How does faith survive, let alone flourish in a place like the Middle East? How can Good truly overcome such evil? How do you maintain hope when all is darkness around you? How can we say “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” when it may not be visibly true in that place at that time? How does anyone live an abundant, victorious Christian life in our world’s toughest places? Can Christianity even work outside of Western, dressed-up, ordered nations? If so, how?
The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.
While not used for a Bible study at Richland, Pastor Nick has referenced The Insanity of God multiple times, as the stories told in this book are amazing and unforgettable. You will be overwhelmed in a spiritually uplifting way if you will commit to reading this book.
Find it online or in bookstores.
Note: Book descriptions are from Amazon.com, except for Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian life, which is from biblicalspirituality.org.