I’m pleased to announce that Abingdon Press has released my newest book, Five Practices of Fruitful Living. It is available now from Cokesbury at a wonderfully reduced price as well as from Amazon and from a wide array of on-line and storefront Christian booksellers.
From the time I wrote Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, I felt that these same edgy, provocative words could serve as a basis for understanding key elements of the personal faith. Five Practices of Fruitful Living moves the conversation from a focus on congregations to the personal walk of discipleship. How do I cultivate a life that is purposeful, deep, and fruitful? What are the commitments, critical risks, and personal practices that open me to God’s grace? How can I discover the spiritual life and the difference God intends for me to make in the world? How do I have in me the mind that is Christ?
The book uses the same adjectives and practices, but with slightly different emphasis and meaning. Through the practice of Radical Hospitality, we open ourselves to God’s initiating love and invite God into our hearts. We say "yes" to God’s grace. We make room for God. Passionate Worship connects us to God and fosters our love for God—the things that matter to God begin to matter more to us. God reshapes our hearts and minds through our prayers and praise. We love God in return. Intentional Faith Development deepens and matures our relationship with God as we learn God’s Word and practice it in community. We perceive God’s calling with greater clarity as we explore the inner landscape of soul and spirit with the community of faith. We grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God. Growing in Christ, we cannot help but feel called to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and so we offer ourselves in Christ-like service. God loves the poor and outcast; suffering breaks God’s heart. Risk-Taking Mission and Service stirs in us a sense of enchantment about the larger world, and through this practice we experience the mystery of another person’s life in ways that adds depth to our own. God pushes us out of our comfort zone, and we love those whom God loves. We serve others. Our discipleship and following of Christ begins to transform the world. At some point we realize all that we have and all that we are belong to God. Through the practice of Extravagant Generosity, God uses our giving to re-configure our interior lives. Each step is grace-driven. Each practice trains the heart. God’s love insinuates itself deeper into our souls, drawing us toward a life that is rich in what matters most.
Five Practices of Fruitful Living includes reflections on why we do what we do, and how God uses our worship, study, service, giving, and reaching out to others to transform the world. And this book includes a more extensive treatment of the imperative and delight of inviting others into a deeper exploration of the spiritual life.
Those who are familiar with the first book on congregations will recognize some familiar elements. Fruitful Living uses many personal stories, boxed examples, and questions for reflection and discussion.
Five Practices of Fruitful Living is deeply personal without being individualistic. It embeds people more deeply into the body of Christ and weaves people into the life and ministry of the church. In contrast to much of the doctrine-based devotional literature (“This is what you must first believe!”) or emotion-based literature (“This is how to feel better.”), this book is practice-based. Practices are how we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our own growth in Christ.
The book has taken me longer to write and been more challenging than any project I’ve ever undertaken. I’m pleased it is now available, and I pray it serves the church well as a tool for teaching and for spiritual exploration.
Yours in Christ,