Summer Reading and Study

The GroupLife Ministry Team has several suggestions for summer reading and study, either individually or with your small group. Stop by the Resource Center for more ideas!

Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today, by Adam Hamilton
Adam Hamilton addresses the hot-button issues that plague the church and answers many of the questions frequently asked by Christians and non-Christians alike. Did God really command Moses to put gay people to death? Did Jesus really teach that everyone who is not a Christian will be assigned to hell? Why would Paul command women to “keep silent in the church”? Were Adam and Eve real people? Is the book of Revelation really about the end times? Who decided which books made it into the scriptures and why? Is the Bible ever wrong?

Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, by Kathleen Norris
Struggling with her return to the Christian church after many years away, Kathleen Norris found it was the language of Christianity that most distanced her from faith. Words like “judgment,” “faith,” “dogma,” “salvation,” “sinner”—even “Christ”—formed what she called her “scary vocabulary,” words that had become so codified or abstract that their meanings were all but impenetrable. Blending history, theology, storytelling, etymology, and memoir, Kathleen uses these words as a starting point for reflection and offers a moving account of her own gradual conversion.

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven and Hell and Everybody Who Ever Lived, by Rob Bell
Rob Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—hell and the afterlife—arguing, Would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever? With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial with a hopeful message—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

Why? by Adam Hamilton
Adam Hamilton brings fresh insight to the age-old question of how to understand the will of God. Rejecting simplistic answers and unexamined assumptions, he lays out core ideas for comprehending God’s plan for the world, including:
God will not take away our free will, even when we use it to grieve him.
God will never abandon us, especially in the midst of our suffering.
While God is not the author of suffering, God will bring blessing out of tragedy.

The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative Icon, by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg
Meet Paul again … for the first time. Two New Testament scholars use the best of biblical and historical scholarship to expose the church’s conspiracy to silence Jesus’s most faithful disciple, the radical apostle Paul.

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle
For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. He distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally.

Revival: Faith As Wesley Lived It, by Adam Hamilton
Wesley’s message and his faith continue to speak to 21st-century Christians—calling for a revival of our hearts and souls so that our world might be changed. Wesley’s story is our story. It defines our faith and it challenges us to rediscover our spiritual passion. Six sessions with DVD and leader guide.

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World, by Brian McLaren
When four religious leaders walk across the road, it’s not the beginning of a joke. It’s the start of one of the most important conversations in today’s world. Can you be a committed Christian without having to condemn or convert people of other faiths? Is it possible to affirm other religious traditions without watering down your own? Brian McLaren proposes a new faith alternative, one built on “benevolence and solidarity rather than rivalry and hostility.” This way of being Christian is strong but doesn’t strong-arm anyone, going beyond mere tolerance to vigorous hospitality toward, interest in, and collaboration with the other. Affirming other religions can strengthen our commitment to our own. And in doing so, he invites Christians to become more Christ-like than ever before.

Disciple Bible Study: Introduction to Romans
Exploring how people have interpreted Romans through the ages is a good lens to view the history of Christianity itself. Compare what Paul writes in Romans to what theologians like Augustine, Luther, and Calvin say in trying to understand Paul in their time. At the end of this study, your group will have a more informed commitment to Paul’s radical vision of God’s relationship to both Christians and Jews and to their relationship to each other, thanks to the “love of God in Christ Jesus.” This eight-session short-term Disciple class with DVD and leader guide is exceptional.


  1. would be nice to have books available for download or audio format or large print. if you have available could put note so people know>

    thank you Jane

    • Hi Jane,
      GroupLife participants put this list of recommendations together; the list was not pulled from resources the church offers. That being said, many of these are available in a variety of accessible formats. I checked as a test and saw several of these in large print, Kindle download, audio CD, digital audio, etc. Some also have leader guides and DVDs for groups who want to discuss them together.

      Regards, Emily Allen, director of communications