Four Great Books on Spiritual Formation

This semester, we’re laying out the Bible’s teaching on spiritual formation in a series called Re:Formation. For those who wish to go deeper in thinking about these issues or helping articulate them to others, here are the top four books I’d recommend on the subject.


Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith

Smith’s concern is philosophical anthropology – what does it mean to be a human person? And how do our assumptions about human personhood affect the way we live, teach, and counsel? Smith argues for an Augustinian anthropology (humans as ‘desiring, imaginative animals’) over against a Cartesian one (humans as ‘thinking things’). Many of the contrasts we’re drawing between information and formation come from Smith’s insights. I think it’s important to start with this book: your foundational anthropology plays a huge role in how you think about spiritual formation.


Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

Willard is one of the most insightful Christian philosophers alive today – and one of the foremost writers on spiritual formation. His writing is lucid and accessible, yet deep and engaging. This book distills the best of his thoughts on spiritual formation and is a must-read for anyone really wanting to understand the dynamics of formation and re-formation. Just remember, he’s writing primarily as a thinker, not a theologian. So he may not parse the theological categories the way you’d like. But he will awe you with insight and substance.


How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp

This book is exactly what its title claims: a study of how people change. Everything Coram Deo believes and practices in our preaching, counseling, discipleship, and leadership development is summarized in this little book. If you want to change or help others change, you should read it.




A Praying Life by Paul Miller

Prayer is essential to formation. But prayer is also nebulous and ethereal and frustrating. Miller takes away the frustration and explains how the gospel frees and empowers you to actually become a praying kind of person. For more, read my prior review of this book.





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  1. Thanks for the e-mail and link on the City on these books. I am reading “How People Change” now on the Kindle and plan to read the other three next. Thank you again.

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