This year our staff and elders are reviving a Providence tradition—a round-up of some of our favorite books. This year’s list looks a little different, though. Rather than books they’ve read in the past year, we asked our staff and elders to recommend books related to the 7 Characteristics of a Mature Disciple. These are books that have been influential in our own spiritual growth—books we return to and often share with others. Whether you’re shopping for Christmas gifts or curating your reading list for 2024, we hope that these titles equip you as a maturing disciple who’s making maturing disciples.
Grounded in the Gospel
Josiah Foster (Providence Elder): A great resource for fathers who have a desire to grow in their calling to lead their families. This book walks through the biblical imperatives and practical application of discipling and grounding your family in the gospel.
Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments
Emily A. Jensen and Laura Wifler
Holly Longacre (Director of Missions): I was presently surprised by this one. I went into reading it as a skeptic and came out as a fan! This book was so encouraging to me as a mom in seeing gospel truth in the everyday mundane moments of motherhood – and using those to glorify God.
What is the Gospel?
Afshin Ziafat (Lead Pastor): This short book gives a clear gospel presentation using the elements of God, man, Christ, and response. This book is a great gift for new believers or those who are searching; read it to be grounded deeper in your own understanding of the gospel and its transforming power.
Communing with Jesus
Whitney Eaton (Director of Ministry to Women): Praying with Paul by D.A. Carson is an indispensable guide for anyone seeking to deepen their prayer life. Carson’s exploration of the Apostle Paul’s prayers not only enriches one’s prayer practice but also provides profound insights into the theology of prayer. With its clear, scholarly approach and practical applications, this book is an invaluable resource for both new believers and seasoned Christians looking to mature in their communion with Jesus.
Jimmy Stuart (Director of Facilities & Technology): This book is a great resource using insights from the Puritans to put teeth into biblical meditation in regards to pattern and practice, while also showing how it’s different from modern contemplative spiritual (pagan) meditation.
Holly Longacre (Director of Missions): This book offers practical ways to implement intentional prayer into your daily life. Includes ideas such as consistent prayer cards and a prayer journal to keep track of requests and answered prayers.
Staff Favorite – also recommended by Afshin
Studying the Scriptures
Thomas Maurer (Director of Young Adults): It is written with a devotional structure, but very much a book to be read. Thirty chapters with the purpose of reading a chapter a day to complete in a month. Walks through the entire structure and storyline of the Bible. Think of it as a 30,000 view over Scripture. I recommend this all the time. It ties the Bible together.
Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption Through Scripture
Alastair J. Roberts and Andrew Wilson
Grant Hoover (Director of Students): This book brings the Bible to life by showing it is one coherent story. Using the Exodus as a grid for seeing all of the Scriptures, Roberts and Wilson show how all of Scripture is telling one beautiful redemption story. It’s a short read that will light your fire for the Word.
Whitney Eaton (Director of Ministry to Women): Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul is a great resource for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of the Bible. With clarity and wisdom, Sproul navigates the complexities of biblical interpretation, providing insights for both beginners and seasoned scholars. This book not only equips readers with essential tools for studying Scripture effectively but also inspires a reverence for the Word of God. While also giving readers the confidence that Scripture, and subsequently God, is knowable.
Connected in Community
Matt Moore (Director of Groups & Connections): This book does an incredible job of showing how friendships in the church help us increase our joy and at the same time those friendships are effective in helping us in difficult seasons of our life all by the design of God.
Staff Favorite – also recommended by Whitney
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
Thomas Maurer (Director of Young Adults): Incredible book. Short, yet jam-packed. Bonhoeffer casts a beautiful and enticing vision for biblical community. He highlights the need for “us” and why God’s people need one another.
Rachael Deatherage (Executive Assistant): Welch offers a simple, but profound reminder to every member of the body of Christ: you are needy and needed. This book offers practical ways to live out the “one anothers,” starting with moving toward and greeting one another. It will change the way you approach hallway conversations on Sunday mornings!
Staff Favorite – also recommended by Grant
Whitney Eaton (Director of Ministry to Women): When I’m struggling in my own pursuit of holiness, I often find it most helpful to read about the men and women who have gone before us. 50 People Every Christian Should Know is a compilation of stories that will inspire you to steward the gifts God has given you in the service of his church. As Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ;” reading about those who have struggled and persevered in their own pursuit of holiness is an encouragement to me to continue to press on and that more often than not presents itself in loving others with the gifts God has given me.
Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter
Thomas R. Schreiner
Thomas Maurer (Director of Young Adults): Schreiner walks through the main passages on spiritual gifts in a clear and pastoral way. He’s a cessationist but lays out both sides of the argument in love and grace. Schreiner is uniquely gifted in his clarity and would recommend this book to anyone even if you disagree with him on some things.
Rachael Deatherage (Executive Assistant): As we use our gifts to serve, it’s easy to sink into pride when our work is seen and valued or to sink into despair and resentment when it goes unnoticed. This book offers truth that’s essential to our serving—that we are first served by God, that we are his friends, his Bride, and his children, and that the love that motivates joyful service is found only through his Spirit.
Ambassador of Christ
Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith
Greg L. Bahnsen
Josiah Foster (Providence Elder): This book is meant to prepare believers for defending the faith. As ambassadors of Christ, this resource helps equip us to be confident in understanding the presuppositions underneath challenges to the faith.
Holly Longacre (Director of Missions): This book challenges me to live a life of “radical ordinary hospitality” as a picture of Christ’s love and servanthood for those he has brought into my life.
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Afshin Ziafat (Lead Pastor): Does God’s sovereignty over salvation make our evangelism unnecessary? In this classic book, Packer shows that sovereignty doesn’t give believers a pass from sharing the gospel, but leads us to greater fervency in our evangelism.
Focused on Eternity
Holly Longacre (Director of Missions): This is one I need to read over and over. Radical separates the call of Christ from the “American Dream” that many Christians today are living for. It is a call for all of us to take an honest look at our lives and ask ourselves tough questions about our willingness to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
Jimmy Stuart (Director of Facilities & Technology): This is a brief, yet excellent book, that gives a reformed Christian treatment to stewarding and redeeming your time so as to be productive for God’s glory. It is a great counter to the many secular productivity books that dominate the bestseller lists, showing where those books can be helpful and where they aren’t—even where some are rooted in non-Christian religious practices.
Heaven Misplaced: Christ’s Kingdom on Earth
Josiah Foster (Providence Elder): This book is written to encourage us by the unfolding promises of God that began to be fulfilled at the incarnation. This is especially relevant during the Advent season as we celebrate the one who has come to make his blessings flow “far as the curse is found.”