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The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus Hardcover – September 15, 2020
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WINNER OF THE CHRISTIANITY TODAY BOOK AWARD
Most believers live in the state of “being a Christian” without ever being deeply formed by Christ. Our pace is too frenetic to be in union with God, and we don’t know how to quiet our hearts and minds to be present. Our emotions are unhealthy and compartmentalized. We feel unable to love well or live differently from the rest of the world—to live as people of the good news.
New York pastor Rich Villodas says we must restore balance, focus, and meaning for our souls. The Deeply Formed Life lays out a fresh vision for spiritual breakthrough following five key values:
• Contemplative Rhythms Value: slowing down our lives to be with God.
• Racial Justice Value: examining a multi-layered approach to pursuing racial justice and reconciliation.
• Interior Examination Value: looking beneath the surface of our lives to live free and love well.
• Sexual Wholeness Value: exploring how our sexuality connects with our spirituality.
• Missional Presence Value: living as the presence of Christ in a broken world.
The Deeply Formed Life is a roadmap to live in the richly rooted place we all yearn for: a place of communion with God, a place where we find our purpose.
Praise for The Deeply Formed Life
“The Deeply Formed Life is a book for our time. Honest, wise, insightful, funny, and—above all—deep. The way Rich and New Life Fellowship hold emotional health and racial justice together is beyond inspiring. This is spiritual formation for the future of the church.”—John Mark Comer, pastor of teaching and vision at Bridgetown Church and author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
“I’ve studied the Bible under Pastor Rich’s leadership for close to a decade. The core values he shares in this book serve as guidance, not only for how we should live as Christians in an ever-changing world but also for how we can live a life of purpose—that consistently and enthusiastically points to Jesus.”—Susan Kelechi Watson, actress from the awardwinning television series This Is Us
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“The evidence is everywhere—Christians have been formed by our culture for shallowness. The way to a more deeply formed life is no great mystery, but it is, as Rich Villodas shows, filled with countercultural practices that require intention, purpose, and vision. These pages cast a vision for not only deeper, holistic formation of each of us as individual believers but also for a more deeply formed church as well.”—Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist
“Rich Villodas writes from the wellspring of a monastic spirit that has been woven into the fabric of his life for years. I know very few Christian leaders who embody the contemplative life in such a way that connects the complex social, cultural, and spiritual realities we face today. The Deeply Formed Life invites us to journey with God toward personal wholeness and a new moral imagination that creates a better world of justice, peace, and reconciliation. I highly recommend it!”—Brenda Salter McNeil, author of Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now
“The Deeply Formed Life is a powerful call to a holy pursuit away from the temptations of a shallow discipleship that encumber our generation. Rich masterfully weaves the experiences and disciplines of both personal and communal formation that inspire and empower us to a contemporary discipleship, which leads to spiritual health and flourishing. This book is a gift that enriches us as we open every layer.”—Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, pastor at Calvario City Church and president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
“Rich Villodas understands that a pastor’s primary task is not to gather a crowd but to form people in Christ. Spiritual formation is not a practice reserved for the spiritually elite; rather it is the very heart of all Christian discipleship. He embodies my hope for the contemporary church in the Western world—for us to a shift toward spiritual formation. The Deeply Formed Life clearly marks the path we need to follow, making the essential practices of formation accessible to everyone.”—Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, and author of Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God
“My friend Rich Villodas has been marked deeply by the spiritual directors of church history. And yet this book is not only about a call to engage in ancient practices so that we can have a more fulfilling life. Rich calls us to both personal refreshment and missional engagement, the kind of engagement that challenges injustice. I believe The Deeply Formed Life represents a new genre of spiritual direction, a kind modeled after Jesus, who both went away to pray and engaged the marginalized.”—Dr. Bryan Loritts, author of The Dad Difference
“The Deeply Formed Life tackles the endemic issue of non-discipleship within the Western church. The book is theologically rich, pastorally sensitive, and wonderfully practical. Rich does not shy away from addressing some of the most pressing issues in our day and how they affect our discipleship. This is much-needed!”—Deb Hirsch, missional leader, speaker, and author of Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship and Redeeming Sex
“In a captivating and moving way, which is profound and personal, Rich Villodas shows us how we can be formed by God into a masterpiece. With shimmering insights and poignant stories, this rare and powerful book will take you deeper into God and make the world more beautiful.”—Ken Shigematsu, pastor of Tenth Church, Vancouver, BC, and bestselling author of God in My Everything
“Revealing our shallowness with grace and helping us see there is so much more to living, Rich Villodas leads us patiently into The Deeply Formed Life. Step by step, this pastor walks us through the malformations that plague our modern existence. He challenges us with content that has a personal spirituality and with nothing less than a full-orbed Christian discipleship. A powerful summons to the deeper life.”—David Fitch, Lindner chair of evangelical theology at Northern Seminary Chicago and author of Faithful Presence
About the Author
- Publisher : WaterBrook (September 15, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525654380
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525654384
- Item Weight : 13.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 0.89 x 8.55 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #109,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2020
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Top reviews from the United States
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For those even mildly contaminated with its curse, Rich Villodas offers an effective antidote in this engaging book. The spirituality described touches on every aspect of the Christian life--devotional reading, prayer,fellowship, accountability, family, even sex.
The author's style is easy to read, authentic, and transparent. He offers practical suggestions that communicate the importance of habit-forming discipline. In a market filled with fluff and feel-good religiosity, this book is an important voice calling for depth and significance.
It was refreshing to see a book about Christian discipleship from an evangelical perspective that actually includes chapters on pursuing racial justice and sexual wholeness under the umbrella of spiritual disciplines, and with appropriate nuance to boot. A rare thing in our day, as many resources either ignore these topics or take a very one-sided or agenda-driven approach. Pastor Villodas offers a wise and balanced perspective, and considering our cultural moment Christians cannot and should not shy away from discussing these subjects in the context of spiritual formation.
Maybe I'm overly cynical, but as I was reading this book I feared that many of the people who most need to hear Villodas's advice are the kinds of people who would dismiss it as soon as they got to the chapter on race, thinking it sounded too "liberal" or too much like CRT or something (which it's not). But that means there is definitely an audience that needs this message. And the conclusions taught here are all orthodox -- which is the real reason why they're uncomfortable for some.
I do wish Villodas had gone into more detail in offering practical action steps for each of the five "formative practices" offered. It certainly felt weighted more toward theory than application. Still, the theory taught here is great, and as far as discipleship books go, this one fills a much-needed slot in explaining how to marry contemplative spiritual practices with active/social practices to cultivate a "deeply formed life," so I'd say it's worth a read for anyone interested in Christian spiritual growth. Great for groups or classes, or just for personal enrichment.
Rich writes with the pen of a pastoral-theologian. He explores deep concepts about God (and ourselves) in language the non-scholar can understand. Yet, he also uses his skills as a practitioner to help us live out those deep truths. Rich transparently shares his own story trying to live for Jesus as the pastor of a large multiracial church in Queens. He freely communicates his own struggles and victories that help us apply these foundational truths to our own lives. You may not agree with all his conclusions, but this book will make you think deeply as you come to your own.
In his introduction, Rich lists the foundational values for us:
1. Contemplative rhythms for an exhausted life.
2. Racial reconciliation for a divided world.
3. Interior examination for a world living on the surface.
4. Sexual wholeness for a culture that splits bodies from souls.
5. Missional presence for a distracted and disengaged people.
Most books dealing with spiritual formation mention one or two of these values, but it is highly unusual to deal with all of these issues together. As we look at our current trials of COVID, racial division, economic upheaval, political unrest, forced isolation, and soul-crushing trauma, Rich could not have been more prophetic in dealing with exactly what we face right now.
Rich often gives credit to his mentor, Pete Scazzero, author of "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality," among other books. Fans of Pete’s work on the subject of emotionally healthy discipleship will relate well to Rich’s approach. While some of the same topics are discussed, Rich builds upon Pete’s ideas in a very complementary way.
In the afterword, Rich summarizes:
"So to come full circle, when I speak of being deeply formed, I’m specifically referring to a way of being in the world that’s marked by new rhythms, contemplative presence, and interior awareness, which results in lives that work for reconciliation, justice, and peace while seeing the sacredness of all of life."
Rich does a terrific job helping us focus on the “be” of who we are in Christ so that the “do” of how we serve Him flows out of that new Christ-centered identity. I cannot recommend a book more highly to those who want that type of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Top reviews from other countries
Firstly the good:
- There is some absolute gold in this book.
- If you've read any emotional healthy spirituality books, you'll know the emphasis on deep integration and growth, which Villodas continues. And in light of continuing Christian leader fails and the US led deconstruction of faith a deep life is vital.
- The section on sexuality is v good - it's not about what you would think but about how all of us are sexual beings needing a place to belong. Similar to the small book "purposeful sexuality" by Ed Shaw
- The references are broad and diverse - lots of non Eurpean names and female writers, and the bibliography could provide some great reading I think.
- The questions around our feelings were the parts I found most challenging and want to come back to. Again if you have used EHS material this won't be totally new but it is so important I keep revisting it and actually do the work not just read it !!
- There are lots of good practical practices he encouraged us to have a go at.
My 'dissatisfaction'? :
- I felt in many ways it felt quite disjointed. 5 values are chosen to explore: contemplative prayer, racial reconciliation, interior examination, sexual wholeness and missional presence. All are interesting, but unless I missed it, Villodas doesn't explain why he chose these 5 and why these 5 "must be held together". I agree they are important, but there is no biblical or cultural reason given why to focus on these 5 specifically.
- The section on racial reconciliation is more nuanced and gracious looking towards hope, which is better than many on this topic. Yet He says he focuses on the West, but to single out those who are white and completely ignore racism in other contexts, the historic North African slave trade, Chinese treatment of uyghurs etc etc etc and to use the explanation on white and whiteness along with the definition of racism involving power felt like reading others with a particular agenda.
- The section on evangelism feels a bit dismissive of ways that are simple and reproducible and are growing movements around the world. It is not just transactional to use his languge.
- Finally like EHS I'm surprised how much Thomas Merton is mentioned, as from what I know of his story and writing his theology is not where I'd want to be drawing from (reading yes, but positively commending no).
All in all a good and challenging book, worth reading, I hope my negatives are not straining out negative gnats whilst swallowing positive camels 😄 As Villodas desire to see Christians deeply formed into the image of Christ is definitely what we need.
Deeply practical in terms of reflective thinking and directional questions in answer the question how then should we live and function as Christians, as embodied created beings, as image bearers, as people in a certain time and place with other people in a certain time and place.
Definitely one to return to mull over and ponder - the anecdote about being a Christian in the workplace had me sniggering and cringing as that was naive, tho well-meaning, zealous me in my first job. More bomb-like than winsome...