The most essential equipment is simply you.
You need a vision or idea of the living Christ as the object of your trust. This will help establish your will in a growing and settled intention to learn from Jesus how to live the life he shares with those who trust him. From this place you will naturally (i.e. without pressure or coercion) employ the means that communicate this life.
Vision, Intention, and Means. These are the basic components of spiritual transformation into Christlikeness. The article in which I began to learn these components is Dallas Willard’s Living A Transformed Life Adequate To Our Calling. I highly recommend it.
In this post, I will introduce some texts and resources for those starting the lifelong course of discipleship to Jesus. This list focuses on resources particular to the Anglican tradition. One need not be Anglican to be a disciple. There are disciples in every Christian tradition. But as an Anglican priest I am using tools most readily at hand for forming disciples in my parish.
My next lists will be for those continuing and extending their course.
Starters, continuers, and extenders. These seemed preferable to beginner, intermediate, and expert. Stepping into Christ we are stepping into the infinite. He is the one in whom “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). In this age we are all beginning an education in the life of Jesus. This life, and the delight of learning it and sharing it, will last forever. So we are all beginners. This beginning must start, must continue, and must extend as we apply all diligence toward growing in grace.
This short list of recommended texts and resources includes links to websites, out-of-print books available for free, and a handful of affordable books.
Introductory Article: Why Bother with Discipleship? by Dallas Willard
To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism (as a .pdf or .doc file)
>click here for a direct link to .pdf of basic version of the Catechism
>click here for a direct link to .pdf of extended version of the Catechism
St. Bede’s Breviary (an online resource for praying Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, an excellent way to start!)
>click here for a quick-start guide to praying the offices in traditoinal language in the 1979 BCP
>click here for a quick-start guide to praying the offices in contemporary language in the 1979 BCP
Classic Texts as Ebooks or .PDF files
The Religion of the Prayer Book by the Rev. Joseph Gayle Hurd Barry, D.D. and the Rev. Selden Peabody Delany, D.D.
(a book from 1919 which introduces Prayer Book teachings)
The Catholic Religion: A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Anglican Communion by Vernon Staley
(a book from 1893 offering an explanation of Anglican history and teaching from a High Church (i.e. anglo-catholic) perspective)
The Catholic Faith: A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Church of England by W.H. Griffith Thomas
(a book from 1920 offering an explanation of Anglican history and teaching from a Low Church (i.e. protestant) perspective)
New Bible Commentary by Gordon J. Wenham (Editor), J. Alec Motyer (Editor), Donald A. Carson (Editor), R. T. France (Editor)
For 40 years, the New Bible Commentary has set the standard for works of its kind. Now in this completely revised fourth edition (including over 80% new and updated material), the New Bible Commentary is positioned to maintain its standing as the leading one-volume commentary on the whole Bible well into the 21st century. This readable and accessible volume brings together many of the finest scholars of our day to meet the needs of students, teachers and Bible readers.
Our Common Prayer: A Field Guide to the Book of Common Prayer by Winfield Bevins
The historic common prayer tradition has enriched the faith of millions of Christians around the world for hundreds of years and still has the power to offer a vibrant, healthy, life-giving faith for our generation and generations to come. Our Common Prayer follows a simple outline and rhythm from the Book of Common Prayer and is edited for contemporary use.
Beyond Smells and Bells by Mark Galli
(from the back cover)
Liturgy lures us through our senses, grounds us in a great tradition, and plants us in the midst of a diverse community, present and past.
Are you attracted to liturgy but don’t know why? Are you considering changing to liturgical tradition? Are you already immersed in liturgical worship but want to grasp its deeper significance? Beyond Smells and Bells addresses the lure and relevance of liturgy for your life today.
Thousands of Christians become interest in liturgy each year for the first time, as they turn to orthodoxy, tradition, and the lasting rituals of the Christian faith. In a culture that values spontaneity, liturgy grounds us in something enduring. In a culture that assumes truth is a product of the mind, liturgy helps us experience truth in mind, body, and spirit. In Mark Galli’s able telling, liturgy is an intruguing story, full of mystery, that transforms us.
The “Book of Common Prayer”: A Biography by Alan Jacobs
(from the back cover)
While many of us are familiar with such famous words as, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here. . .” or “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” we may not know that they originated with The Book of Common Prayer, which first appeared in 1549. Like the words of the King James Bible and Shakespeare, the language of this prayer book has saturated English culture and letters. Here Alan Jacobs tells its story. Jacobs shows how The Book of Common Prayer–from its beginnings as a means of social and political control in the England of Henry VIII to its worldwide presence today–became a venerable work whose cadences express the heart of religious life for many.
The book’s chief maker, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, created it as the authoritative manual of Christian worship throughout England. But as Jacobs recounts, the book has had a variable and dramatic career in the complicated history of English church politics, and has been the focus of celebrations, protests, and even jail terms. As time passed, new forms of the book were made to suit the many English-speaking nations: first in Scotland, then in the new United States, and eventually wherever the British Empire extended its arm. Over time, Cranmer’s book was adapted for different preferences and purposes. Jacobs vividly demonstrates how one book became many–and how it has shaped the devotional lives of men and women across the globe.