5 Books That Changed My Life: Michael Frost

By Michael Frost, coauthor of Hide This in Your Heart

Five books!? Who can limit such a list to just five books! As soon as I see this published I will regret all the incredible books that changed my life that didn’t make the list. But I’ve decided to choose books that hit me as a young man and redirected the trajectory of my life and ministry. They’re older works now, but I share them in the hope that younger readers who’ve missed them will pick them up and be similarly slammed by their insights.

1. Finally Comes the Poet (1989) – Walter Brueggemann

Brueggemann did change my life, I think. His work on the theology of the Old Testament was foundational for me, and Hopeful Imagination influenced me greatly. But I’ve chosen Finally Comes the Poet, because, while it’s ostensibly a preaching book, it took my view of gospel from the prose-flattened thing it was when first presented to me and expanded it into poetry “that breaks open old worlds with surprise, abrasion and pace.” I’ve been trying to present the gospel that way ever since. 

2. Resident Aliens (1989) – Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon

This was a sensation to me. It was the first time I’d heard anyone declaring that Christendom had fallen, and that that was a good thing for true Christianity! Hauerwas’ and Willimon’s view that the end of Christendom provides us with a unique opportunity

to embody a social alternative to the brutishness of modern life has been a theme I’ve been riffing off ever since. I haven’t ended up with quite the Anabaptist, almost separatistic, outlook they present, but they opened my eyes to the current cultural realities for the first time.

3. The Light Has Come (1982) – Lesslie Newbigin

I have been profoundly shaped by Newbigin’s work, particularly The Open Secret and Foolishness to the Greeks, but his commentary on John’s Gospel is so elegant I had to include it in this list. It completely amplified my vision of Jesus, which is what a good commentary should do. Newbigin brings together the Incarnation, new life, the mission of God, church, grace and glory into one slim volume. The way Newbigin writes about God’s glory makes my heart sing. 

4. Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes (1983) – Kenneth Bailey

This might be cheating because it is, in fact, an abridged edition of two of Kenneth Bailey’s books on interpreting the parables in Luke’s gospel. If Newbigin’s commentary on John is filled with the glory of God, Ken Bailey takes us down into the dust and smells of Galilee. After decades living in the Middle East, he helps understand what the parables would have meant to Middle Eastern peasants in Jesus’ day. Bailey’s insights continue to shape my view of Christ and his radical teaching to this day.

5. Wise Blood (1952), Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), Jayber Crow (2000) – Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather, Wendell Berry

This is definitely cheating because I’ve thrown together three gorgeous novels about Christian faith. O’Connor’s Southern Gothic depiction of an obsessive evangelist, Willa Cather’s beautiful portrayal of Catholic missionaries in the New Mexico territories, and Wendell Berry’s whimsical story about a devout barber, have shaped my commitment to storytelling that intrigues, inspires, unsettles and comforts my listeners. I still reread Flannery O’Connor’s best stories every year. 

Hide This in Your Heart by Michael Frost and Graham Joseph Hill 

Michael Frost is a leading voice in the international missional-church movement. Author of more than a dozen books, he is also cofounder of the international Forge Mission Training Network, vice principal of Morling College, and founding pastor of Small Boat Big Sea. Frost is a highly sought-after speaker, traveling internationally multiple times a year.

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Charlotte is a Content Marketing Specialist based in the Chicagoland area. Charlotte is originally from Minneapolis but moved "south" for college, where she fell in love with writing and her husband Mark. In her free time, she loves to swim, bake bread, and dance around the living room with her kids.

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