Five great books on discipleship

Discipleship means being apprenticed to or being understudy of Jesus. There are tons of great books on discipleship. It is, after all, the essence of life in Christ. 

I’ve made a list of five books on discipleship that were written (except for Lloyd-Jones) in my lifetime and that I continue to come back to as I consider how to be a fully devoted follower (disciple) of Jesus.

In the future, I’ll also post another list of my favorite books on discipleship written earlier in the history of the church.

1. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures.0802813879

This is a masterpiece of pastoral theology in the Puritan tradition. Lloyd-Jones carefully uses the Scriptures to explore the variety of factors that can cause us to experience spiritual depression. He is realistic in his appraisal and balanced in his application of Scripture to the Christian. Every Christian should read this book.




2. Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel.ragamuffin.gospel.manning

Manning’s purpose in writing is to expose us to the extravagant love of God. This love can only be deeply experienced when we admit our brokenness and inability to patch ourselves together. Is God’s grace sufficient to hold onto us even in the context of frailty and sin? Yes! This is the good news that Manning shares and in so doing helps us to move beyond false guilt and into true guilt that leads to authentic conversion.



3. Bill Hull, Choose the Life: Embracing a Faith that Embraces Discipleship.9780801064708

Hull wants to close the evangelical gap between “salvation” and “discipleship,” an un-Biblical separation that is the fruit of revivalism. If the Christian life is a marathon, he argues, then we need to train. As much as you may want to run the race, you won’t reach mile 26 unless you train. Spiritual formation, Hull prefers the word discipleship, is practicing the Christian disciplines to open ourselves to the presence of God and to allow him to make us more like Jesus. 


4. Pete Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.emotionally-healthy-spirituality-book


Ever wonder why people who are super religious can also be as mean as a snake? Scazzero claims that recent discipleship has not done a good job of integrating emotional health with growth in Christ. Many Christians are spiritually mature and emotionally immature. Scazzero, who has a doctorate in marriage and family therapy, connects discipleship and emotional health and offers a game plan for those who want their whole life to be under the Lordship of Jesus.


5. Wayne Cordeiro, Leading on Empty.9780764207594_p0_v1_s260x420


Burnout is an experience common to many. Cordeiro experienced a burnout accompanied by depression, which caused him to take a sabbatical from ministry duties in order to tend his own soul. This book offers practical advice on how to lead while recovering from burnout as well as how to build your life in a way that will help you minimize the chances of burning out.

4 Replies to “Five great books on discipleship”

  1. Great list. I haven’t read #3 or #5. I’ll check them out.

    If I had to add one, I’d toss in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson. That book has been helpful and challenging to me as I try to be a “disciple in an instant culture.”


    1. Great suggestion Steve! I haven’t read A Long Obedience–I need to though. God used the The Contemplative Pastor to draw me away from law school and into ministry, so I owe Eugene a great deal!


  2. I’d add Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy. I remember as I read thinking that I had to consider what this really meant in my life–I had to act this out in my life before going on to the next chapter. It was a book that at least for me could not just stay in my head.


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