8 New Books for Discipling Minds in 2022
My favorite verses on the invisible and spiritual war that we are involved in as disciples of Jesus are found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. The apostle Paul writes,
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Notice the last point Paul makes: as teachers, we demolish anti-God arguments and pretentious thoughts and make every way of thinking obedient to Christ. You and I are involved in a spiritual battle to think and believe rightly.
You and I are involved in a spiritual battle to think and believe rightly.
Thinking rightly is a core spiritual battle for everyone, and teachers must contend for what people believe when it comes to God’s truth. We engage people at their core in discipling relationships when we disciple their minds. Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that the prevailing culture is winning in many places because too many church leaders and disciple makers are not actively engaged in discipling the mind.
So, as the new year begins, I recommend 8 new books from 2021 that I hope will be particularly helpful as we seek to disciple minds in 2022.
Again, this list has a narrow focus: beliefs and right thinking. This is not a list of the top books on disciple making or disciple making methods (we will share that one soon). But this a list of books that are important tools in disciple making.
“…a list of books that are important tools in disciple making…”
My list, like all personal recommendations, will reflect biases. It includes a book that I co-edited, as well as a book co-written by my son, Chad. Biases acknowledged, these are eight books from 2021 to read in 2022 to effectively to combat the ways of the world and disciple people’s minds in the way of Jesus.
1. Real Life Theology: Fuel for Effective and Faithful Disciple Making – edited by Bobby Harrington and Daniel McCoy
This collection of 13 short theology books is based on the dictum, “The Jesus we preach, the gospel we uphold and the faith we coach will determine the disciple we get.” The RLT collection is written by sixteen scholars/church leaders and is designed to be read by serious laypeople and elders in churches. Daniel and I invested the last eighteen months working on this book because of our conviction that we need a biblical theology for everyday disciples in order to sustain a prolonged disciple making focus in North America. We created a model for groups of four or more people so that you can use this material in disciple making relationships. For a free e-book on leading a discipling group based on Real Life Theology, click here.
2. Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace – John Mark Comer
Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. It is simply the best primer on the spiritual issues involved in disciple making I have found. The section on how Satan works is alone worth the price of the book. John Mark points out not just that we tell lies but that we live them. For top quotes from Live No Lies, click here.
3. The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claims – Rebecca McLaughlin
Many of my minister/pastor friends give this book out like candy to help disciple the minds of believers in their twenties who are struggling with navigating what McLaughlin calls the “secular creed.” Here are the creed’s five points:
- Black Lives Matter
- Love Is Love
- Gay Rights Are Civil Rights
- Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
- Transgender Women Are Women
Rebecca McLaughlin has a PhD from Cambridge University and spent 9 years with The Veritas Forum, where she trained Christian professors to communicate their faith in relation to their work. In The Secular Creed, she shows us that Christianity is the original source and firmest foundation for true diversity, equality, and life-transforming love. She is one of the most important voices for the church in America today. For a reflection and review on The Secular Creed, click here.
4. Surviving Religion 101: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping the Faith in College – Michael J. Kruger
This is the best book on discipling and preparing the minds of high school seniors for university that I have ever read. Kruger, a biblical scholar, is one of the world’s leading authorities on how we got the canon of the Bible and why it is reliable and trustworthy. In this book, he shares that he developed a focus on this topic as a reaction to being ambushed as a freshman at UNC when he took a class under a young Bart Ehrman, the antagonistic biblical scholar who delights in de-converting evangelical Christians. Written as a series of letters to his daughter, now a freshman at the same school thirty years later, Kruger provides a highly readable guide through all the intellectual challenges that destroy the faith of young Christians on university campuses today. Amazingly helpful, solid material. I now give this book to all the graduating seniors in my home church.
5. Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice – Thaddeus Williams
My friend Alisa Childers does a great job describing this book and why it is so important for disciples of Jesus trying to navigate difficult cultural issues with convictions and compassion. She writes, “If you are a Christian concerned about oppression, injustice, racism, and other moral ills that plague our culture, there may not be a more important book you read this year. Secular ideologies offer solutions to age-old problems that may act like temporary fixes, but only the Christian worldview can provide a robust and deeply satisfying action plan. Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth is the definitive guide to help Christians ‘do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God . . .’ as Micah 6:8 puts it, while not sacrificing one iota of biblical truth.”
6.The Revolutionary Disciple: Walking Humbly with Jesus in Every Area of Life – Jim Putman and Chad Harrington
The words revolution and revolutionary bring different pictures to different minds. If you’re into history, you might think of the American Revolution or the French Revolution or Marxist Revolutions. There have been scientific revolutions like the Copernican revolution and cultural phenomena like the sexual revolution. The truth is, if we want to see disciple making truly form our churches, we need to pursue our own Jesus-centered revolution. This will mean living integrated lives with a disciple-making core focus. This will mean loyalty to King Jesus. And at the center of it all is an unobtrusive yet revolutionary virtue: humility. Jim and Chad point us to how living lives of humility before God and people is absolutely key to unlearning worldly ways and discipling our minds in the way of Jesus. This counter-revolution of sorts will show the world that the church has serious answers worth paying attention to.
7. Quest 52: A Fifteen-Minute-a-Day Yearlong Pursuit of Jesus – Mark Moore
Quest 52 helps you to think rightly about Jesus. Mark served for over twenty years as professor of New Testament (with a focus on the Gospels and Acts) at Ozark Christian College. Two of Moore’s books have figured prominently in past Renew.org Gatherings: Core 52 (which was provided to all attendees in 2019) and Faithful Faith (which was part of the Real Life Theology Collection provided to all attendees in 2021). Mark is a heartfelt author writing from a deep well of scholarship. In Quest 52, he helps us disciple the mind by walking through 52 pressing questions in which find answers by pursuing Jesus. Some of the questions include “Is life random?” “Does my past determine my future?” “What does Jesus say about social justice?” “How can we share our faith effectively?” “How can you hear God’s voice?”
8. Gay & Christian: How Pro-Gay Theology Is Crashing into the Church like a Speeding Train without a Whistle – Guy Hammond
The title of this book says it all, and most churches do not have an adequate response to the “speeding train.” As we speak truth in love, we must not avoid teaching countercultural biblical truth on LGBTQ issues. This book will help you understand the issues and craft a biblical, thoughtful response. If you are not familiar with Guy Hammond, Guy is a popular speaker at Renew.org Gatherings. He is a same-sex attracted man who upholds traditional biblical sexual morality. His ministry, Strength in Weakness, is a very important ministry helping thousands of people and churches navigate LGBTQ issues. The book provides answers with heart and nuance to the common talking points and questions of those who teach that we should give up on the traditional understanding of what the Word of God teaches.
It sounds stark, but it’s true: If our minds are not discipled by the truth of the gospel, they will be discipled by lies from the culture. If you need help in your own discipleship of the mind or if you feel compelled to help disciple the minds of people you know, I highly encourage you to check out one of these books and make discipling the mind a priority in 2022.