I pray that. . . Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:16)
In the midst of changing circumstances, both inside and outside of our church, many people are looking for a place of stability and security. We are looking for roots to hold us steady and for solid ground upon which we can stand secure in the midst of uncertainty. It is for this reason that we have adopted “rooted” as our theme for 2020.
The ministers at FBC Griffin have put together this list of resources to help guide us during this year of “rootedness,” The hope is that our Sunday school classes, small groups, and individuals might engage the theme of “rootedness” together by using these resources in your own devotions, classes, and group gatherings.
In addition to traditional Bible studies, we have included some unconventional resources, in the hopes that they may spark ideas for new groups and new ways to engage in spiritual formation together. Feel free to bookmark and return to this page as we will keep it updated throughout the year.
*We are working to make sure that all of these resources are available in the church library. Please see Steven Norris if you have additional questions.
Whether you enjoy reading on your own or reading in a group, we hope that some of the books on this list might inspire you to be more “rooted” in your own journey. Many of them have study guides that are helpful for both personal and group study. These would make very interesting additions to Sunday school classes, LifeGroups, book clubs, or personal reading lists.
The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
In this book, Wilson-Hartgrove illuminates the biblical and monastic understanding of why staying in one place is both a virtue and good for you. “For the Christian tradition,” he writes, “the heart’s true home is a life rooted in the love of God.” When we cultivate an inner stability of heart – by rooting ourselves in the places where we live, engaging the people we are with, and by the simple rhythms of tending to body and soul – true growth can happen. (6 chapters. No Study Guide available. This book would work well for a book club that might read the entire book and discuss it together.)
The Awakening of Hope by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
The Awakening of Hope re-presents Christian faith by beginning with stories of faithful witness and asking, Why? Why do Christians eat together? Why do we fast? Why would we rather die than kill? These are the questions that help us see why creation and the fall, covenant and community, ethics and evangelism matter. This book is a contemporary catechism, celebrating lives and stories that wouldn’t make sense if the gospel were not true. And then going one step further, this project shares the good news of Jesus and the way of life that he makes possible. (8 chapters. Study guide included in back of book. Video series also available. This book would work well for a small group or class that would read and discuss a chapter a week.)
Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love by Mark Scandrette
Take a casual survey of how people practice their faith, and you might reasonably conclude that Jesus spent his life going door to door offering private lessons, complete with chalkboard and pop quizzes. We think about God in the comfort of our own minds, in isolation from one another; meanwhile the world waits for a people to practice the way of Jesus together. Mark Scandrette contends that Jesus has in mind something more lively for us: not a classroom so much as a kingdom, where our formation takes place not only in our heads but in our hearts and our bodies, and in the company of one another, in a way that blesses the world we’ve been entrusted with. (11 chapters. Study guide included in book. This book would work well for a small group or class studying and discussing a chapter each meeting.)
The Fragrance of God or Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening by Vigen Guroian
Vigen Guroian is an orthodox priest, theologian, and religion professor. In addition to this, he is also a master gardener. In both of these books, Guroian uses his love for gardening to open a window into the spiritual life and reveals truths about God. (Both books include 7 chapters. No study guide available. Would work well for a book club or for a group of those who love to garden.)
Grounded by Diana Butler Bass
We are experiencing a great shift in our culture. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. Grounded explores this cultural turn as Bass unpacks how people are finding new spiritual ground by discovering and embracing God everywhere in the world around us—in the soil, the water, the sky, in our homes and neighborhoods, and in the global commons. Faith is no longer a matter of mountaintop experience or institutional practice; instead, people are connecting with God through the environment in which we live. Grounded guides readers through our contemporary spiritual habitat as it points out and pays attention to the ways in which people experience a God who animates creation and community. (8 chapters. Multiple Study Guides are available, including a 40 day Lenten version of this book. See Steven for more information.)
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron
What happens when the pastor of a mega church loses his faith? Pastor Chase Falson has lost his faith in God, the Bible, evangelical Christianity, and his super-sized megachurch. When he falls apart, the church elders tell him to go away: as far away as possible. Join Chase on his life-changing journey to Italy where, with a curious group of Franciscan friars, he struggles to resolve his crisis of faith by retracing the footsteps of Francis of Assisi, a saint whose simple way of loving Jesus changed the history of the world. Read this riveting story and then begin your own life-changing journey through the pilgrim’s guide included in this powerful novel. (This book includes a study/discussion guide in the back.)
Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown
Sensible Shoes tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation: Hannah, a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is. Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past. Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage. Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right. You’re invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation. Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God. (This books is part of a four part series. Each book has a study/discussion guide available on the publisher’s website.
Small Group Studies
The Apprentice Series by James Bryan Smith
To be “rooted” in God, we must first understand who God is, who we are, and how we live this life together. The three books in this series address precisely these concerns. This series is intended to go through in a small group setting. It is divided into three books: The Good and Beautiful God; The Good and Beautiful Life; The Good and Beautiful Community. Each book is set up for a reading each week along with a “soul training” exercise. There is a study guide in the back for group sessions.
Book 1: nine sessions | Book 2: twelve sessions | Book 3: nine sessions
The New Testament and Its World by N.T. Wright & Michael Bird
To be “rooted” in God, we must understand the revelation of God in scripture. This resource provides an overview of the entire New Testament by one of the best New Testament scholars alive today. We have the video series and study guide that accompanies this book.
37 video lessons (10-15 minute video and a series of questions to guide discussion)
The Essentials of Christian Thought by Roger E. Olson
Christians disagree on doctrine, politics, church government, certain moral questions—just about everything under the sun, it can seem. Yet a unity remains, centered around a core outlook on God and the world that is common to all believers. In The Essentials of Christian Thought, eminent theologian and church historian Roger Olson outlines the basic perspective on the world that all Christians, regardless of the place and time in which they are born, have historically held. It is, quite simply, the essential requirement of a Christian view of the world. (Book and 16 video series with segments of varying lengths – 10-28 minutes each)
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
This is another option exploring our rootedness in relationships. Using the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram, the authors help you grow in knowledge of yourself, compassion for others, and love for God. Witty and filled with stories, this unique approach gives you a peek inside each of the nine Enneagram types, taking you further into who you really are and leading you into spiritual discovery. It’s both an exploration of your deep and innate roots and how to grow into who God created you to be. A separate study guide is available, which includes an introduction and five weekly sessions.
“A River Runs Through It”
The film tells the autobiographical story about two boys, Norman and Paul, growing up in 1920s Missoula, Montana under the watchful eye of their father, a Presbyterian minister. Their mornings are spent in school and religious study, while their afternoons are devoted to fly fishing in the nearby Blackfoot River. At home, however, the family’s stoic emotions hint at trouble is to come. Norman goes to the east coast for college and lives there for six years, without returning home until then. In the meantime, Paul gets a job as a prolific journalist and makes a name for himself back home. The movie is about Norman’s return home, his and Paul’s summer together, and the connection they have to land and family.
“The Best of Enemies”
This movie tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Civil Rights activist, Anne Atwater and KKK leader, C.P. Ellis. Rooted deeply in their respective communities and beliefs, the two are invited to chair the committee to work out details of school integration in Durham, NC. In the process, both are challenged to confront their respective prejudice in an effort to work for the good of their community.
This documentary tells the story of Frank Cabot, master gardener, and Les Quatre Vents, a horticultural masterpiece of the 21st century that took over 75 years to create.
“The Tallest Trees on Earth”
This documentary reveals the magic and history of old growth redwood forests, where giant sequoias reach to the sky and tell their story to the Ocean, wind and air, as well as to the visitors of these national and state parks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWi2bn40ma4)
Music has the power to take the message of scripture and embed it deep into our souls. We would like to suggest the following playlist of songs that you might meditate on and become the soundtrack of your year. We have also included a list of hymns with rich texts that could form the basis for a small group series that analyzes the messages, scriptural allusions, and theology of some of our hymns.
“Rooted” by Kerrie Roberts
“The Color Green” by Rich Mullins
“Land of My Sojourn” by Rich Mullins
“A Mighty Roar” by Nephesh Mountain
“So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong United
“King of Kings” by Hillsong Worship
“The Solid Rock”
“Who You Say I Am” Hillsong Worship
“I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship
“We Shall Not Be Moved” by Sharon Jones and Billy Rivers & The Angelic Voices of Faith
Follow us on Spotify (requires a free account) at www.spotify.com/connexionfbcgriffin to access our playlists. Look for the playlist: “Rooted.”
Sometimes, we need to come at a topic from a different point of view. Art can open up a window to a theme and help us to see it in new ways. Below, you will find a few suggestions of places to start with this year’s theme. We encourage you to do a little research about the works to enhance your appreciation and understanding of the various artists and their work. If you are looking at this with a group, you might begin by projecting a high-quality image of the work on a television or screen. You can also print copies so that members each have a copy in front of them. Then, discuss what you think the artist was trying to communicate through the work. How does it make you feel? What questions do you have as a result of seeing it?
“The Sower” or “The Sower at Sunset” by Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh showed an affinity for sowers during his career. In all, he did more than 30 drawings of paintings of that subject, honing in on the cycles of seasons and life embodied by this pastoral scene. The use of the sun also becomes symbolic in some of these works, forming a kind of halo around the sower, emphasizing the sacredness of their task. https://www.vincentvangogh.org/sower-at-sunset.jsp
“The Haystack Series” or “The Rouen Cathedral Series” by Claude Monet
Monet was well known for his series of paintings. He would often paint dozens of different versions of the same subject, trying to capture it at different times of day and in different seasons of the year. In a sense, staying “rooted” in a similar place and focused on a similar subject allowed him to experience the subject in a deeper and more profound way. Take some time with a group and look at one of these series and see what it might say to you about the power of staying rooted and committed to a place over time. What applications might we make from this to the spiritual life?