Small Church

Born of Water, Born of Spirit: Supporting the Ministry of the Baptized in Small Congregations, by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook and Fredrica Harris Thompsett. Alban, 2010. The stories of the congregations revealed in this book serve to inspire us about what is possible when we live intentionally as the reconciling presence of the body of Christ in the world. They also educate us about what will be needed in the years to come to lift up still more small congregations for their work in the larger community.

Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, by Karen B. Tye. Abingdon, 2008. This book invites church leaders (especially pastors) of small membership congregations to develop an imaginative and holistic vision of Christian education.

The Gifts of the Small Church, by Jason Byassee. Abingdon, 2010. With some humor and stories from his time as pastor of a small rural church in Zebulon County, North Carolina, Byassee states that the small membership congregation is especially suited to form virtues, perspectives and habits that make up the Christian life.

The Strategically Small Church: Intimate, Nimble, Authentic, Effective, by Brandon J. O’Brien. Bethany House, 2010. O’Brien, Leadership Journal editor, emphasizes the positives of small membership congregations: provide space to nurture close relationships across age and lifestyle barriers, facilitate a higher level of commitment, focus attention on fewer programs and more.

Mission Education

2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study. Presbyterian Church (USA), 2011. A daily devotional with 365 mission stories from around the world, this book connects discipleship and mission. The stories reflect the theme, “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide,” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35.

Better Together: The Future of Presbyterian Mission, by Sherron Kay George. Geneva Press, 2010. Each chapter of this book begins with a case study and addresses key questions and challenges faced by churches working in mission. The book also contains a study guide.

Christian Mission Impossible?: The Global Role of U.S. Denominations, by Philip L. Wickeri. The Thoughtful Christian, 2006. With this two-session study (Internet download), educators can help adults examine what the biblical mandate for Christian mission is today and how to vision new ways to be engaged in mission.

Education for Mission: Congregational Handbook. Presbyterian Church in Canada. This book provides support for congregations as they engage in faithful and vital mission.

Embracing God’s World: Involving the Congregation in Mission. Presbyterian Church (USA). In this handbook, congregations discover how to become involved in mission education, participation and support. The book’s approach to mission education is based on the intimate relationships among action, reflection and worship.

That Mission Trip Was Fun!: Now What?, by Adam J. Copeland. The Thoughtful Christian, 2010. This youth session (Internet download) helps mission trip participants process their experience in preparation for sharing it with others.

Spiritual Formation

Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith Formation, by John Roberto. Lifelong Faith Associates and Vibrant Faith, 2010. Imagining the next decade, Roberto presents four scenarios to guide congregations in envisioning the possibilities for the future by addressing the spiritual and religious needs of people. For ongoing conversations, see and and

Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction, by Margaret Guenther. Cowley, 1992. This is a classic introduction to the gift of spiritual direction, guiding others in growth.

Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey: Guidance for Those Who Teach and Nurture, by Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May. Baker, 2010. Based on over a decade of research with those involved in “reflective engagement” (approaches to ministry with children that flow from the work of Sofia Cavalletti), Stonehouse and May listened to children and discerned insights from their conversations.

The Practice of Spiritual Direction (Revised and Updated), by William A. Barry and William J. Connolly. HarperCollins, 2009. The goal of Barry and Connolly is to directly assist individuals in developing and cultivating their personal relationship with God.

Renovaré. This nonprofit organization “models, resources, and advocates intentional living through Christian spiritual formation.”

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. Shalem Institute provides support for contemplative living and leadership. It offers programs and resources for spiritual directors, clergy, lay leaders and others interested in the contemplative way.

Shaped by God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults, edited by Robert J. Keeley. Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2010. In this anthology, twelve experts share their perspectives on faith formation at home, in worship, in education, in intergenerational contexts, in people with developmental disabilities and more.

Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, Marjorie J. Thompson. Westminster John Knox, 2005. Offering a framework for understanding the spiritual disciplines and instruction for developing and nurturing those practices, this classic book is useful for individual reflection and group study.

Spiritual Directors International. At the website of this global learning community, one can find information about spiritual direction, a local spiritual director, blogs, free downloads, videos and much more.

Multi-Site Ministry

A Multi-Site Church Road Trip: Exploring the New Normal, by Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird. Zondervan, 2009. Whether it’s multiple locations or Internet campuses, this book takes a tour of multi-site congregations across America to see how they are handling the opportunities and challenges of this organizational model. An earlier work by the same authors, The Multi-Site Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations, may also be helpful. See also


The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making, by Elizabeth Liebert. Westminster John Knox, 2008. Providing practical steps and exercises, Liebert guides readers through the process of faithful decision-making.

The Way of Discernment, by Stephen V. Doughty with Marjorie J. Thompson. Upper Room, 2008. From the Companions in Christ series, this small group 10-session resource is designed to help people explore the nature and practice of spiritual discernment. The participant’s book provides individual reading and daily exercises. A separate leader’s guide contains directions for weekly sessions.

God’s Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discover God’s Will, by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ. Loyola, 2010. Thibodeaux shows readers how to use Ignatian discernment to access their own spiritual intuition and understand that the most trustworthy wisdom of all comes not from outside sources, but from God working through them.

Retreat and Encouragement

Church Retreats and Faith Formation, by Nancy Ferguson. The Thoughtful Christian. In this essay (free Internet download), Ferguson provides suggestions for designing a retreat that nurtures faith formation. She identifies varying definitions of “retreat,” reaching back to the days of pilgrimages and the monastic movement, all the way up to contemporary retreats specifically geared toward church officers, choir members, female congregants and youth. Additional essays by Ferguson include What’s the Point of Church Retreats?; Ideas for Worship, Play, Community Building (for a retreat); and Essentials of Retreat Planning.

Contemplative by Design: Creating Quiet Spaces for Retreats, Workshops, Churches, and Personal Settings, by Gerrie L. Grimsley and Jane J. Young. Upper Room, 2008. The authors share how to arrange settings and objects (such as a photograph, a leaf, a pencil) to encourage spiritual reflection and realize stillness.

Time Away: A Guide for Personal Retreat, by Ben Campbell Johnson and Paul H. Lang. Upper Room, 2010. After emphasizing the benefits of a personal retreat, this book provides step-by-step instructions for a special time away.

Jane Schuyler responds to resource inquiries through the Reformed Church in America Helpline and coordinates the children and worship program.; (800) 968-6065.