Celebrate Black History Month by learning from Black authors and church leaders. We recommend these titles from our collection for small-group or individual study. The resources listed here include:
- DVD Studies for Small Groups
- DVD Studies for Men’s & Women’s Groups
- Lenten Studies & Devotionals
- Book Studies
- Books for Church Leaders
- Books for Preachers
DVD Studies for Small Groups
The Big Picture: Seeing God’s Dream for Your Life by Jevon Caldwell-Gross and Nicole Caldwell-Gross (pictured above). Connect the dots of triumph and trauma in your life to discover God’s presence by studying the story of Joseph in Genesis. It shows us how God weaves together events that seem random into a beautiful image of joy, survival, purpose, and meaning. See God’s dream for your life as you begin connecting the dots of God’s grace, presence, and protection.
Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness by Junius B. Dotson. For Reverend Junius B. Dotson, it took an actual breakdown during a funeral for him to realize he needed a reset. This study is a call for the church and all of Jesus’ disciples to reset and reorder their lives around spiritual practices, to learn to walk through our difficult seasons with our souls connected to the source of Living Water so that we don’t burn out or break down. And if we do burn out or break down, we learn to lift one another up and point one another back to Jesus.
Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege by Dominique DuBois Gilliard. This study inspires groups and individuals to reimagine how they think about privilege and exercise power. Gilliard illustrates how the faithful witness of biblical figures, from Esther to Zacchaeus, provides a blueprint for modern believers. By embodying Scripture’s subversive call to leverage–and at times forsake–privilege, you will learn to love your neighbors sacrificially, enact systemic change, and grow more Christlike as a citizen of God’s kingdom.
Watch Your Mouth: Understanding the Power of the Tongue by Tony Evans. Your words can call down destruction—or they can speak life into the world around you. Discover how to glorify God with your speech in this DVD presentation that includes four sessions of powerful teaching and moving personal testimonies. Get ready to use your words in mighty ways and model with your mouth the character of God.
DVD Studies for Men’s & Women’s Groups
Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ: A Study in Galatians by Barb Roose. Let go of feeling like you are not a “good enough” Christian and find freedom in Christ by studying Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Barb Roose shows us that even the believers in the early church struggled to let go of rule-keeping in order to embrace God’s free gift of grace. Learn to stop trying to measure up in God’s eyes and instead accept God’s grace, distinguish between lies and truth, and embrace God’s promise of freedom.
Search our online catalog for more women’s studies by Barb Roose.
Gideon: Your Weakness. God’s Strength. by Priscilla Shirer. From a state of fear, weakness, and insecurity, Gideon emerged as Israel’s hero, filled with God’s presence and His passion for deliverance. This study will encourage you to recognize your weakness as the key that the Lord gives you to unlock the full experience of His strength in your life. Instead of ignoring, neglecting, or trying to escape your weaknesses, see them as the gifts that they are, given specifically and strategically by God to unlock the door of God’s strength.
Search our online catalog for more women’s studies by Priscilla Shirer.
The Making of a Man: How Men and Boys Honor God and Live with Integrity by Tim Brown. NFL All-Pro, sports analyst, and businessman Tim Brown uses experiences from his life to teach men the principles and priorities he has learned for leading a life that honors God. Through his stories of struggling with God, overcoming temptations, and discovering what it takes to be a good husband and father, he shares what true manhood is all about and what guys must do to attain it. These principles have helped Tim lead a life of honor and integrity that has made him one of the most respected men in the world of sports.
Dare To Be Uncommon: Discovering How to Impact Your World by Tony Dungy. This Super Bowl-winning coach has spent his life shaping young men. Now Tony Dungy is ready to share core truths he wants every man to understand, live by, and pass on to others. Through Scripture, discussions, and activities – plus character-building insights and candid “pep talks” from Tony Dungy – men will be challenged to examine their lives and aspire to a life of true significance.
Lenten Studies & Devotionals
Finding Jesus in the Psalms: A Lenten Journey by Barb Roose. Barb Roose guides the reader through a meaningful encounter with the Psalms through the season of Lent. Combining an interpretation of the psalms with real-life stories, this study moves through the familiar words of Psalm 23 toward the painful cries of Psalm 22 uttered by Jesus on the cross. The study includes reflections on the life of King David and the original context of the writings, along with connections between the psalms and the life and death of Jesus the Messiah.
Struggle to the Cross: A Lenten Study for Individuals and Groups by Sharma D. Lewis. Bishop Lewis invites readers to observe Lent by introspection, repentance, forgiveness, renewal, prayer, fasting, and Biblical study. Each daily reading ends with the “My Action” section, inviting readers to put into practice what they have read and reflected upon. Each Sunday, readers are asked to reflect and journal on the past week’s study using questions provided by the author.
Our Lenten Prayer: Reflections and Observations from The Lord’s Prayer: A Lenten Study by Olu Brown. During this Lenten season, the author encourages the reader to lean fully on God and practice the spiritual discipline of trust. Rev. Brown believes that God is challenging us to fully release and trust God for all things in our lives during this Lenten season. We need to be open and willing to ask God for help and direction. Don’t worry, however. Olu reminds the reader that God is available to lead and guide us every step of the way.
Plenty Good Room: A Lenten Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals by Marilyn E. Thornton with Lewis V. Baldwin. This unique short-term Bible study combines an in-depth look at Scripture, American history, and the music and lyrics of six African American spirituals. The six-session study provides biblical, social, and historical analyses of the spirituals: ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit,” “This Lonesome Valley,” “Bow Down on Your Knees,” “Plenty Good Room,” “Ain’t Dat Good News,” and “Were You There?” Leader helps can be found in the book providing discussion questions and activities.
On Ma Journey Now: A Lenten Study Based on African-American Spirituals by Gwendolyn Brown-Felder. This study provides biblical, social, and historical analysis of six spirituals. Sing and study the spirituals at the same time! Teachers use the leader’s guide for session format, discussion questions, and activities. An accompanying CD, included with the leader’s guide, features all six songs and makes listening and learning fun and interactive.
From Preparation to Passion: Devotional and Reflective Meditations Celebrating the Lenten Season Based on the Lectionary and Celebrated African American Sacred Songs and Hymnody by Eleanor Cooper Brown. This resource intends to allow you to truly engage yourself in the preparation and propel you into a Holy passion for Christ by the time you reach Easter. This push to a deeper passion may be enhanced through the connection of the celebrated African-American sacred songs and church hymns. This resource offers insights through meditative readings on the message that the music and the Word of God bring. It includes meditations highlighting sacred songs such as: “My Tribute,” “God Is,” “O Didn’t It Rain,” “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord,” and more.
These books include discussion questions making them useful for small-group studies or individual reflection.
Leadership Directions from Moses: On the Way to a Promised Land by Olu Brown. When people leave the church, it can create a gut-wrenching situation for those in church leadership. Author Olu Brown shares principles from the story of Moses to illustrate how to help others depart from the church gracefully, how to not let yourself or a congregation be upended when others choose to leave, and how to find unexpected opportunities in the challenge of new vacancies. Leadership Directions From Moses offers scriptural inspiration for leaders trying to keep their focus on where God is leading no matter what happens.
Transforming Community: The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations by Henry H. Knight, III & F. Douglas Powe, Jr. Drawing from the strength of their previous book, Transforming Evangelism, Henry Knight and Douglas Powe show us a Wesleyan way to form missional communities and congregations. Drawing from John Wesley’s own organizing abilities, this will better equip today’s congregations to be more transformational. Each chapter also has study questions.
Search our online catalog for more resources by F. Douglas Powe, Jr.
1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon by James Earl Massey. Pastor, teacher, and mentor James Earl Massey helps us see the encouragement, wisdom, and practical direction the Epistles offer to our generation. Easy-to-follow, step-by-step suggestions for leading a group are provided, as well as questions to facilitate group discussion. Immersion Bible Studies, inspired by a fresh translation–the Common English Bible–stands firmly on Scripture and helps readers explore the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual needs of their personal faith.
Touch: Pressing Against the Wounds of a Broken World by Rudy Rasmus. Before God touched his heart and transformed his life, Rudy Rasmus was a businessman running a “borderline bordello” in Houston. But thousands now know him simply as “Pastor Rudy” with a downtown ministry at St. John’s United Methodist Church that he and his wife Juanita started to reach out to those who Jesus called “the least of these.” Touch is the amazing story of Rudy’s life and ministry of grace that is changing lives daily. The church has become one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country with people from every social and economic background, including the homeless, sharing the same pew. Pastor Rudy’s message to touch the lives of those in our own communities has a lesson for us all.
18 Copies of “I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist” for Small Groups
I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist. is edited by Rudy Rasmus and includes contributions by ten Black men and women who identify as United Methodist. They explore life through the lens of compelling personal religious narratives. They are people and leaders whose lives are tangible demonstrations of the power of a divine purpose and evidence of what grace really means in face of hardship, disappointment, and determination. Each of the journeys intersects with the three central elements that are the focus of this book.
The NC Conference Media Center has 18 copies of this book so that everyone in your small group can borrow a book and join the discussion.
Books for Church Leaders
Sustaining While Disrupting: The Challenge of Congregational Innovation by F. Douglas Powe, Jr. and Lovett H. Weems Jr. This book offers church leaders theological insights and practical skills for two crucial tasks: to sustain and strengthen foundational elements of the churches they serve and to guide the critical innovation required to address a context vastly different from the one that current assumptions and behaviors fit. Powe and Weems argue that approaching these tasks as competing claims does not work and that new expressions of faith are needed to engender church vitality.
Rest in the Storm: Self-Care Strategies for Clergy and Other Caregivers by Kirk Byron Jones. A best-seller among seminarians and seasoned leaders alike, this 20th-anniversary edition offers updated and expanded content for readers familiar with the original as well as those new to the work. In to both modest and substantial additions throughout, the expanded edition also features a new Author’s Introduction, two fresh chapters on “Cultivating Meaningful Friendships” and “Unleashing Dynamic Creativity,” and two original sermons, “Living at a Sacred Pace” and “Stopping, Stepping Back, and Stepping Up Stronger”!
Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out by Juanita Campbell Rasmus. When everything in her life came to a stop, Pastor Juanita Rasmus found that she had to learn to be-with herself and with God-all over again. Offering both practical and spiritual insights, she shares a wise, frank, and witty account of her own story of exhaustion and depression, acting as a trustworthy companion through dark days.
From Social Media to Social Ministry: A Guide to Digital Discipleship by Nona Jones. This book outlines digital discipleship principles for building an online community and provides practical instruction for how to do it no matter how big or small a local church may be. There are plenty of books to help churches build a social media strategy, but this is the first book of its kind that goes beyond digital marketing to digital ministry.
Discipleship Path: Guiding Congregations to Connect with Jesus by Quincy D. Brown. This book is designed the help churches to discern, dream, and dream next-step practices for discipleship. What are the next steps to get churches to move from program to pathways that help people to practice the marks of discipleship: Presence, Service, Prayers, Gifts, and Witness? For a church to change its trajectory from plateauing and declining, it must have a discipleship strategy that moves away from multiple programs to a pathway of next steps for people to become disciples.
Blank Slate: Write Your Own Rules for a 22nd-Century Church Movement by Lia M. McIntosh, Jasmine Rose Smothers, and Rodney Thomas Smothers. How to release old assumptions from previous generations, and embrace new ones, so that the church will thrive. This book helps us realize that we must let go of what we think church should be. It provides us with tools we can use to change the landscape of ministry and shows us how to engage our children and our children’s children within the church so that it—and they—can thrive.
Books for Preachers
Preaching in the Midst of … How Black Preaching has Changed in the COVID-19 Pandemic by Amiri B. Hooker. This groundbreaking book explores the innovative and Spirit-filled ways Black preachers are bringing Jesus and justice to the people. A fierce challenge to rise up and embrace prophetic, transformative preaching, it draws from a rich blend of hip-hop artists, theologians, and other intellectuals as it guides readers toward a new paradigm for bringing the gospel message with relevance, authority, and truth.
How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon: Preaching and Moral Imagination by Frank A. Thomas. The author describes the four characteristics of preaching with moral imagination using examples like Robert F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pauli Murray, and the Moral Monday Movement, along with musicians and other artists of today. Moral imagination helps the hearer to see what they cannot see, to hear what they cannot hear–to inhabit the lives of others so that they can embody Christ and true freedom for those others.
Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World: Finding Hope in an Age of Despair by Otis Moss, III. Moss challenges preachers to preach with a “Blue Note sensibility,” which speaks directly to the tragedies faced by their congregants without falling into despair. He then offers four powerful sermons that illustrate his Blue Note preaching style. Moss shows how preachers can teach their congregations to resist letting the darkness find its way into them and, instead, learn to dance in the dark.
Black United Methodists Preach! edited by Gennifer Benjamin Brooks. What accounts for the spiritual power and vitality of Black preaching? What are the distinctive contributions of Black preaching to the life of The United Methodist Church? How must Black preaching evolve if it is to rise to the new challenges facing the UMC? Fifteen distinguished preachers from across the connection answer these and other questions in this important and illuminating volume.
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.