• The Fellows Initiative

Read like a Fellow: Book Recommendations from an Alumna

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

by Annie Monson

Fellows come away from their programs equipped with an arsenal of truth, encouragement, beauty, and collected wisdom in the form of a large stack of books. Authors become life-long teachers, and we readers continue to draw on their wisdom as we participate in their conversations across time. So we thought we’d collect and share with you some of those books that enrich our Fellows programs.  

There are some things this list is, and some things this list is not. This is not a list of all the books that Fellows read. Nor is this even a list of some books that all Fellows read. It does not include the great volume of Bible reading that fellows prioritize. Fellows read more of the Bible than anything else. What this is though, is a list of some books that some fellows read, a list of books allied with the ethos of TFI, a list of books that have inspired fellows’ thinking during and after their program years. 

This is a short selection from a long list of favorite curriculum books gathered from recent fellows and directors across TFI. We hope that if you pick up any of these recommendations, you are encouraged and strengthened by them. And that you simply enjoy them!

On Community

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is Bonhoeffer's treatise on Christian community. Powerful in its conciseness, this 122-pager centers around what Bonhoeffer says is the goal of all Christian community: that “they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.” This vision for community impacts the way we live every part of life: our hours, days, seasons; with our families, friends, fellow believers; in ministry, in worship, in work, in our time with others, and even in solitude. Best read, re-read, and re-read again in any time of life.

On Vocation

Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber

Garber’s wisdom is foundational to the Fellows’ learning, as it brings us a broader and more comprehensive understanding of vocation. Garber says the word “vocation” addresses, “the wholeness of life, the range of responsibilities and relationships. Work, yes, but also families, and neighbors, and citizenship, locally and globally — that to which I am called as a human being, living my life before the face of God.” This book addresses our vocation, our call, to see the world with the eyes of Christ who knows the world with all of its brokenness and still loves it, and our responsibility to that which immediately surrounds us.

The Call by Os Guinness

Guinness presents the idea of our having primary and secondary callings. The primary calling for Christians is as followers of Christ: our calling is by him, to him, and for him. We are first called to someone, not to something or somewhere. Our secondary calling, then, is what we often think of as the entirety of our calling: our jobs and careers. It is here in our secondary calling that we as Christians ought to work as for the Lord, do everything entirely for him. This understanding is liberating to the reader who lives in a culture which says that our career defines and evaluates us.

Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller

To further social justice, to evangelize to coworkers, to serve God through excellence, to create beauty, to influence culture, to be refined through a challenging workplace, to follow passions, to earn money to give generously… These are all common answers Christians give when asked what is the value of work. Keller deconstructs these familiar thought patterns, acknowledging that while these are all good byproducts of work, they are not the foundational purposes of work. Our exhausted world needs to hear that, ultimately, our work has value as part of God's story of redemption in this world. Work is the process of God loving, caring, and nurturing his creation. Work reminds us that