Spiritual Growth Bibliography

A List Compiled by my Friends and Me

Reading for spiritual growth is important to all pastors and church leaders. Recently, I asked my email list to suggest their 2 or 3 favorites books to include in a spiritual growth bibliography. Below is the list they provided. I may have missed a few of the suggestions, but I’ve tried to include them all, even if they weren’t directly on topic. These are the books that helped people’s spiritual growth, plus a few of my suggestions.

Spiritual Growth Bibliography The Go Commission

Spiritual Growth Bibliography

Neil Anderson: Victory Over the Darkness

Arbinger Institute: Leadership and Self-Deception

Mark Batterson: Circle Maker

John Bevere: Killing Kryptonite

Henry Blackaby: Experiencing God

Deitrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

Cynthia Bourgeault: The Wisdom Jesus

Sam Bruce: Spiritual Formation: Forming Your Relationship with God, Transforming Your Relationships with People

Walter Brueggemann: Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest

Francis Chan: Crazy Love

Francis Chan: Forgotten God

H.B. Charles, Jr.: It Happens After Prayer

G.K. Chesterton: Heretics

G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy

Henry Cloud & John Townsend: Boundaries

Henry Cloud & John Townsend: How People Grow

Douglas Connelly: The Bible for Blockheads

Wayne Cordeiro: The Divine Mentor

Larry Crabb: Inside Out

Jim Cymbala: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

DC Talk: Jesus Freaks: Martyrs

Wesley L. Duewel: Touch the World Through Prayer

Dick Eastman and Jack Hayford: Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name

John Eldredge: Sacred Romance

Steve Farrar: Battle Ready

Margaret Feinberg: Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God

Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

Richard Foster: Freedom of Simplicity

Richard Foster: Prayer

Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin: Spiritual Classics

Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith: Devotional Classics

Garry Friesen, J. Robin Maxson: Decision Making and the Will of God

Thomas H. Green, S.J.: Opening to God

Craig Groeschel: The Christian Atheist

Craig Groeschel: Soul Detox

R. Creech,‎ Jim Herrington,‎ Trisha Taylor: The Leaders Journey

Bill Hull: Conversion and Discipleship

Bill Hybels: The Power of a Whisper

Bill Hybels: Too Busy Not to Pray

Kyle Idleman: Not a Fan

Skye Jethani: With

Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck: A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants

Tim Keller: The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

Dennis Kinlaw: The Mind of Christ

Brother Lawrence: The Practice of the Presence of God

Kevin Leman & Kevin Pentak: The Way of the Shepherd

C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters

Peter Lord: Hearing God

Jeff Manion: The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions

James Earl Massey: Spiritual Disciplines: A Believer’s Openings to the Grace of God

John Mason: Enemy Called Average

Robert McGee: The Search for Significance

Erwin McManus: Wide Awake

Reggie McNeal: A Work of Heart

Thomas Merton: Contemplative Prayer

Joyce Meyer: Battlefield of the Mind

Patrick Morley: Man in the Mirror

Henri Nouwen: In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

Arlo F. Newell: Receive the Holy Spirit

Henri Nouwen: Spiritual Direction

Henri Nouwen: The Wounded Healer

John Ortberg: The Life You Always Wanted

John Ortberg: Soul Keeping

Basil Pennington: Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form Eugene Peterson: Under the Unpredictable Plant

Eugene Peterson: Working the Angles

Doug Pollock: God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally

David Putman: Detox (for the Overly Religious)

Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington: DiscipleShift

Robert Quinn: Build The Bridge As You Walk On It

Dennis Rainey: Stepping Up

Richard Rohr: Falling Upward

JC Ryle: Holiness

Oswald Sanders: Spiritual Leadership

Pete Scazzero: Emotionally Healthy Relationships

Pete Scazzero: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Ruth Shinness: Pray Strategy Resource Book

Jerry Sitter: A Grace Disguised

James Bryan Smith: Hidden in Christ: Living as God’s Beloved

James Bryan Smith: The Good and Beautiful God

James Bryan Smith: The Good and Beautiful Life

James Bryan Smith: The Good and Beautiful Community

Charles Solomon: Handbook to Happiness

Charles Solomon: The Ins & Out of Rejection

Gilbert W. Stafford: The Life of Salvation

Gilbert Stafford: Theology for Disciples

Andy Stanley: How Good is Good Enough

Andy Stanley: The Principle of the Path

Steve Strobel: The Case for Christ

Chuck Swindoll: Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Howard Thurman: Deep is the Hunger

Howard Thurman: Meditations of the Heart

Elmer L. Towns: Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough

Lance Wallnau and Bill Johnson: Invading Babylon

Rick Warren: Dynamic Bible Study Methods

Rick Warren: The Purpose Driven Life

Donald Whitney: 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

James Wilhoit: Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered

Dallas Willard: The Divine Conspiracy

Dallas Willard: The Great Omission

Dallas Willard: Hearing God

Dallas Willard: Renovation of the Heart

Dallas Willard: The Spirit of the Disciplines

Flora Slosson Wuellner: Prayer, Stress, and Our Inner Wounds


What’s missing from the spiritual growth bibliography? Add your favorites in the comments.

Here’s the PDF Version


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The 40 Days of Lent Are a Good Time to Start

Lent is a perfect time to maximize spiritual growth. Throughout church history God’s people have dedicated the 40 days of Lent to self-examination, penitence, and self-denial in order to grow closer to Christ.

The Go Commission Maximize Spiritual Growth

Of course, spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a plan. Former University of Alabama football coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”

You can maximize lent for spiritual growth by implementing a few simple ideas.

A Daily Growth Habit

Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day.” That makes sense. People who grow spiritually learned long ago that daily effort has a compounding effect.

A macro goal might be to maximize spiritual growth during the 40 days of Lent. A micro goal is a daily one accomplished by breaking the macro goal into small daily goals.

Dr. B.J. Fogg calls them Tiny Habits. They are the small behaviors that can defeat resistance to change and promote growth.

Fogg suggests that there are three things that change behavior. One is to have an epiphany. But, epiphanies are rare and are dependent on an external event outside of one’s control. He suggests the leveraging of the other two things: a change of environment and taking baby steps.

Fogg suggests four steps to developing tiny habits:

  • Get Specific. Make your goal clear.
  • Make it easy. Start small and the new behavior can grow over time.
  • Identify a trigger behavior. The trigger should be an already firmly established event that you already do consistently.
  • Celebrate. Build a small celebration into your routine. It might be as simple as saying “Woo! Hoo!” after completing your new habit.

Here is the tiny habit recipe and examples:

The recipe: After I [existing habit], I will [new behavior].

Example: After I eat lunch, I will read a Bible verse.

When the new habit is anchored into a routine it can be expanded. Reading a verse becomes a paragraph, a paragraph becomes a chapter, and so on. The expansion of the tiny habit will produce the momentum for the behavior change a person wants to establish.

You can learn about the method here TinyHabits.com and Dr. Fogg’s Ted Talk.

Be Intentional

The second idea to maximize spiritual growth during Lent is to be intentional about it. The first practice of intention is to start. Following the strategy of tiny habits, one simple macro goal can get you started on your plan to maximize your spiritual growth.

John Maxwell, in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, shares this helpful chart.

From Accidental Growth to Intentional Growth

Accidental GrowthIntentional Growth
Plans to Start TomorrowInsists on Starting Today
Waits for Growth to ComeTakes Complete Responsibility to Grow
Learns Only from MistakesOften Learns Before Mistakes
Depends on Good LuckRelies on Hard Work
Quits Early and OftenPerseveres Long and Hard
Falls into Bad HabitsFights for Good Habits
Talks BigFollows Through
Plays It SafeTakes Risks
Thinks Like a VictimThinks Like a Learner
Relies on TalentRelies on Character
Stops Learning After GraduationNever Stops Growing

Use a Good Resource

The third idea to maximize spiritual growth during the upcoming 40 days of Lent is to use one or two good resources. Here are some of my favorites.

Rethinking Easter will help you develop a plan to help the whole church grow. It’s free for the next few weeks. I encourage you to use it.

Holiness: A Lenten Devotional is a new resource written from the perspective of the Church of God (Anderson), but it will be helpful to anyone who wants to focus on the virtue of holiness as their growth goal.

40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond  is a daily devotional that I have enjoyed using. It available in paperback and Kindle editions.

40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond Paperback Edition

40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond Kindle Edition

My friend Dr. John Davey provided this plan for his congregation last year. It will give you some good ideas for you and your church.

Pennway Church of God Spiritual Growth Ideas for Lent

What will you do to maximize spiritual growth during the 40 days of Lent?


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