My 2021 Top Ten Reads: #10 and #9: Church History and Spiritual Practice

#10 – The Patient Ferment of the Early Church by Alan Kreider

This was a brilliant work on the mission, methods and mindset of the early church. There is so much we could and should learn today. Here is the big takeaway I got from the book:

“The earliest church (100-300 AD) rather than having any sort of evangelism plan or mission strategy actually limited visitors to worship services and even asked non-members to leave halfway through! The focus of the church at this time was developing people to live in the way of Jesus, specifically defined as patient trust in God’s plan for the world. Through this the church grew as outsiders noticed these changed lives and were curious.”

A good book to read along with this would be Willie James Jennings’ theological commentary on Acts. For those familiar with scripture, Jennings’ brings out themes we may not see. Like Kreider’s book, Jennings’ book both teaches and inspires.

#9 – Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren

Warren’s previous book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, is one of my all time favorite books on spiritual disciplines. This follow-up is all about prayer and praying the hours. For those of us who learned that reading prayers is somehow less spiritual and we must be authentic by just rambling, this book is a wonderful remedy. There is much depth and wisdom in praying the prayers of the tradition. Warren writes,

“When we’re drowning we need a lifeline, and our lifeline in grief cannot be mere optimism that maybe our circumstances will improve because we know that may not be true. We need practices that don’t simply palliative our fears or pain, but that teach us to walk with God in the crucible of our own fragility” (19).

A good book to read along with Warren’s is Pete Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Both of these books are helpful reads that will equip and enable you to develop spiritual practice.

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