I’m the kind of person who hates going anywhere new without a clear set of directions. Guides, maps, and schedules make me much more comfortable whenever I’m embarking on a journey.
So naturally when I first started my journey of faith in Christ, I desperately wanted guidance. I hungered to understand my faith, to know what I believe and why I believe it. And I’ve encountered a lot of people who have that same desire – a desire for guides to help them get their bearings in their Christian walk.
Of course, it should go without saying that the most important resource is the Bible. The need to get to know God’s Word for yourself is a non-negotiable aspect of the Christian life. Also up there is being actively involved with a Christ-centered community of believers. But for many (myself included), having books and tools that orient one to the journey of faith are almost as important starting out.
So to that end, here’s a short list of recommended books and resources that I think are especially helpful for new believers (they’re also still great if you’ve been at it for a while and just need a refresher, or if you’re looking for something to pass on to a friend who’s new to the faith!):
1) Basic Christianity by John Stott.
A wonderfully reader-friendly introduction to the Christian faith. Stott’s book covers all the basic essentials of Christian belief and practice, and it manages to be brief without skimping on the important details. This is a great primer for any believer, young or old. Start here.
2) Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.
This was one of the first books I read as a new Christian. It was also the book that started my abiding passion for bringing robust theology into the life of the church. Mere Christianity is partly a summary of the doctrines all Christians broadly agree on and partly a philosophical defense of Christian truth. This may be a challenging read for some beginners (the dense argumentation and somewhat dated British English may take some getting used to), but Lewis is a masterful writer and a captivating thinker, and it’s well worth the effort.
3) The Bible Project (YouTube channel).
For better or worse, we live in a digital, media-saturated age that has trained many of us to be better video-watchers than book-readers. That’s why I’m thankful for gifted, media-savvy believers like the guys who started the YouTube channel “The Bible Project.” They regularly post short video overviews of theological concepts, Bible word studies, and even summaries of whole books of the Bible!
Their “Read Scripture” video series introduces every book of the Bible, and many of my students have enjoyed watching them alongside their own reading of a biblical book to help them grasp the big picture of what they’re reading. Definitely give them a look.
4) A journal.
Yep, that’s write! Er, right. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) One of the best things a new believer can invest in is keeping up a regular journal of things they’re learning – whether from Scripture, church, personal reading, or life in general. There’s nothing that helps you remember something quite like physically writing it down.
When I first got serious about my faith, I wrote down any and all Scripture verses and quotes I came across that I wanted to remember. This did wonders for helping me grow in my faith and understanding of God, as well as my Scripture memorizing. I still have all my old journals, and it’s always refreshing to go back and review the words and ideas that have shaped my life.
Even if you totally hate writing, at least give it a try for a while. I think you’ll be surprised by the benefits.
5) A good study Bible.
I’ll admit, I personally have kind of a love/hate relationship with study Bibles. On the downside, they can be rather pricey and bulky to carry around. Also, not all study Bible notes are created equal. Some are very biased towards a particular interpretation, especially if they’re based on just one teacher’s material (for example, the MacArthur Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, etc.).
On the other hand, though, I do think every believer would do well to own at least one solid study Bible, if for no other reason than that they encourage you to dive deeper into the Scriptures. The best study Bibles do this by providing things like: cross-references between similar Bible passages, outlines and introductions to each biblical book, maps of the geographical settings, and a balanced overview of the various interpretations of difficult passages.
Three that I’d recommend are the recently-released CSB Study Bible, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, or the NIV Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible. Another popular one that is useful for devotional study is the Life Application Study Bible, which comes in a variety of translations.
So there’s my shortlist of handy resources for new believers. I hope you find it helpful!
Let me know in the comments what resources you’ve found valuable for growing your faith!
Categories: Resource Recommendations
Great writing and great resources! Thank you for sharing!
I have become cautious about theology recommdatiins if I am not very familiar with the “recommender”. So I really appreciate your blog. Mere Christianity has been a great help to me. Particularly because it is a “mere” perspective.
One journaling style I have found useful is the SOAP approach:
S – subject (scripture, topic etc)
O – objective. What is its meaning (similar to a definition you would find in a dictionary or encyclopedia)
A – application. How does that definition apply to me and my life.
P – prayer. Going to God for illumination, correction, direction.