For 8 years, I was on staff with the CCO (ccojubilee.org) and through that organization met one of the most brilliant yet approachable book nerds on the planet, Byron Borger. Byron and his lovely wife, Beth setup an incredible display of books every year at the Jubilee Conference from their bookstore in Dallastown, PA (http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com)
Recently, I reached out to Byron for some book recommendations as I prepared to engage some new students in our ministry through the journey of discipleship. Since it has been awhile since I added any new “tools” to my campus ministry toolkit, I thought I’d see if Byron has come across any good books that I’ve missed lately (I knew there was a high probability of that outcome!)
I love his initial response: “I guess I’m sort of of the opinion that nearly any book is an opportunity for disciple making and faith formation. So as you mentor and guide others, any book can get at that.”
Byron continues, “I often recommend Learning for the Love of God which gets at the notion of worldview, calling, vocation, academic faithfulness, and seeing God in all things — pretty basic for whole-life discipleship!”
Actually, that book is one that I have given to dozens and dozens of high school seniors over the past 10 years to help them prepare for life as a college student with an emphasis on loving God with all their minds.
In the past, I have used a book called Discipleship Essentials (by Ogden) but it can be little intimidating and workbook-y. Byron countered that with, “For what it’s worth he has a much slimmer volume, similar, but not a half a years worth of stuff. It’s smaller and is called Essential Guide to Becoming a Disciple: Eight Sessions for Mentoring and Discipleship (IVP; $15.00.) It is still that conversational- Q & A – discussion format with inductive questions about Biblical texts, so it may have the same feel, but it is shorter, at least. Ha.”
After pointing me to a list of books that is often featured at the Jubilee Conference, Byron suggests, ” One of the best sellers and most used books is called Faith on the Edge by a variety of authors — Paul Tokunaga, Kevin Blue, Greg Jao, and others (I even helped a tiny bit with one or two chapters)which includes small chapters for busy students and great reflection questions. It is arranged in three levels or concentric circles. First is one’s relationship with God, then pieces on one’s relationship to others, and then stuff about our relationship to the world. It covers a little bit of everything. Really good for Christian students just learning about all these various ways faith can impact our lives, our relationships and our world and I think a great guide for making and mentoring disciples of Christ. It’s from IVP and sells for $16.00.
Then Byron continued with these recommendations…
Think, Act, Be Like Jesus: Becoming a New Person in Christ Randy Frazee (Zondervan Publishing) $15.99 We’ve told so many people about this book as it is very basic, but transformative. Here’s the thing: it takes a topic a day, and demands a little bit of reading and reflection and consideration, but it isn’t much. It is arranged in three main sections: the stuff we believe, the stuff we do, and the traits we develop. The stuff we “think” about includes basic Christian concepts about God, truth, faith, the Bible, salvation, more things that are standard. The things we do are things like pray, attend church, trust, serve, give, hope, share our faith with others, worship, and the like. Then the third section — suggesting that if we believe like Jesus and do the stuff Jesus invites us to, then we become filled with the fruits of the spirit (faith, hope, kindness, patience, and more.) So this three-fold format is helpful, balancing ideas, behaviors and virtues. And there’s 10 “sessions” for each. So one can do one a day for 30 days. There are key verses, key truths, key concepts, key applications. It’s very clear and useful but there’s a lot in it.
It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity Is So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die Jefferson Bethke (Thomas Nelson Publishers) $16.99 I love this book, as every chapter starts with a fairly conventional Christian truth and explores what it “really” means, getting a bit more insight and practical stuff to revolutionize one’s faith perspective. He’s popular among younger adult readers, pretty cool, very faithful to the Scriptures, but pushing us towards a wider, deeper, more relevant faith. This is good for anyone who grew up in the church and has some standard info, but needs to explore it’s better meaning and the implications. OR, it’s also very good for newbies, as it really does present all kinds of basic Christian stuff that is vibrant and relevant.
Of course CCO’s own Steve Lutz wrote King of the Campus Not an inductive Bible study, but a regular book, so it’s fun to read, without getting bogged down in workbook stuff — but it covers a lot. I think this is just about the best guide for basic Christian living for young adults on college campuses. There’s a great study guide in the back making it useful for discipleship classes, leadership groups, Bible studies or book clubs. He exposes the idols on campus and invites us to ask what it really looks like to have Christ be the King of your campus. Highly recommended.
Go: Returning Discipleship to the Front Lines of Faith Preston Sprinkle (NavPress) $14.99 I love this recent book which is just a bit more passionate and serious than Kyle Edelman’s Not a Fan — it invites us to think well, serve passionately, be serious about faith and making a difference as we see ourselves as mini missionaries in all we do. Fantastic, upbeat, exciting, getting us going. It actually came out of some research done by the Navigators (through Barna) asking what people think being a disciple means, what discipleship is, etc.
One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow Scot McKnight (Zondervan) $ 14.99 Well, I had to list something of McKnight, and this is his upbeat book about “whole life discipleship.” Fantastic. His books on the Bible, his book on prayer, his book on fasting, and his New Testament scholarship all have this good edge to them, relating everything to a vision of discipleship. Don’t forget his very important (and quite readable) King Jesus Gospel (Zondervan; $19.99) or the detailed, practical The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others (Paraclete; $16.99.) These are great for anyone pondering the how and why and daily habits of intentional discipleship. Anyway, I think his One.Life is a pretty useful book to read together with a young person wanting to become a more intentional disciple in all of life.
So that’s the “meat & potatoes” of Byron’s response to my inquiry. As I engage with college and university students at various points along the discipleship spectrum, I found these suggestions to be exactly what I needed to be reminded of some great resources but also informed about some things I was unfamiliar with.
I hope these suggestions might be useful for others who are engaged in discipling others…especially young adults and college students. Blessings on your relationships and conversations!