Resources for Spiritual Growth in the New Year

December 26, 2017  |  Luke Simmons

The new year is often a time to reflect and move toward intentional change. As you consider the new year, here are a number of great resources to explore.

Important: This list is intentionally long and overwhelming. It’s not designed to suggest somebody should (or could) do all these things. 

Memorize Ephesians

We’ll spend most of 2018 at Gateway working through Ephesians (about 40 weeks). You can see our sermon schedule here.

I’m planning to memorize Ephesians, and I’d love you to join me. It’s only 155 verses, which averages to almost 4 verses/week. Here is a weekly plan for memorizing the book.

My dream is for enough people to take this challenge that on the final day of the series (October 21, 2018) we could have a bunch of people take portions and together recite the entire book as part of the sermon.

A thorough resource on extended Scripture memory is the 28 page e-book by Dr. Andrew Davis, An Approach to Extended Memorization of ScriptureAndy Naselli helpfully adapts and boils Davis’ approach into 11 Steps to Memorizing an Entire Book of the Bible (I agree with Naselli about not memorizing verse #s).


Many of us would like to pray more faithfully in 2018. Here are some ideas.

Paul Miller’s prayer card system. If you’d like an electronic version, consider the free PrayerMate app.

Seeking God’s Face. This is one of my favorite resources, as it provides guided prayer that follows the historic church calendar.

Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Spiritual Growth. This is a book of Scripture turned into prayer. We used it at every prayer meeting in the pre-launch days of our church.

Questions to Ask

Don Whitney is a professor and author and provides these wonderful questions to consider. Among my favorites:

  • What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
  • What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
  • For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

Reading (Books)

Do you love to read? Do you want to learn to love to read? Do you enjoy reading books that cross the whole spectrum of topics and genres? Then consider Tim Challies’ 2018 Christian Reading Challenge.

Bible Reading (or Listening)

Christians who reflect on Scripture grow in their faith. So consider an intentional approach to Bible reading (or listening) in the new year. Below are links to plans, many of which are also available on the YouVersion app.


30 Days with Jesus
30 Days for New Christians
The Micronutrient Bible Reading Plan


5×5 Plan – Read the New Testament by spending 5 minutes per day, 5 days per week

Book at a Time – Read the whole Bible one book at a time, alternating between OT and NT

Bible Reading Program For Slackers & Shirkers – Interesting approach


Read Scripture Plan – Integrates Bible Project videos and has a helpful app

Professor Horner’s System – Buckle up!

The M’Cheyne Plan – Read OT once, NT & Psalms twice.


For many people, podcasts provide a great way to redeem a long commute or and pursue spiritual growth. Here are some that may be helpful:

Well-known Preachers

Matt Chandler & The Village Church – Based in Dallas, Chandler is one of the best preachers on the planet.

Tim Keller Sermons – Keller preached for years in New York City and this podcast features some of his best sermons.

Larry Osborne & Chris Brown – This is the podcast for North Coast Church in San Diego. Solid.

John Piper Sermons – Piper doesn’t preach weekly, but this features his most recent sermons at other events.

T4G Conference Audio – This has archived sermons from some of the best preachers in the world (and will update after the 2018 conference in April.

Jen Wilkin – Jen is a fantastic Bible teacher, and this is the podcast from her women’s Bible study.

Lesser-known Preachers

Robert Gelinas – Gelinas pastors Colorado Community Church. Sermons are moving and thoughtful.

Albert Tate – Tate pastors Fellowship Monrovia in southern California.

Tim Mackie – One of the founders of The Bible Project, this podcast helps you “explore your strange Bible.”

Ray Ortlund, Jr. – A seasoned pastor and a tremendous gift to the body of Christ.

Redemption Gateway – In case you ever miss a Sunday.

Spiritual Growth

Knowing Faith – Explores how our faith is founded on Scripture.

Cultivated – A podcast about faith, work, and creativity.

Doctrine & Devotion – Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler explore Christian faith and practice.

Front Porch with the Fitzes – Elyse Fitzpatrick and family have conversations about life and faith.

Leadership & Ministry

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – Stanley is a brilliant leader who can help leaders in any area (not just church)

Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast – This has been a helpful resource, especially in a growing organization.

The Gospel Coalition Podcast – Interviews and talks, many of which have to do with ministry.

Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast – Carey interviews many interesting church leaders, most of whom you’ve never heard of.


The Briefing with Albert Mohler – A daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates – Bright people debate important cultural and political issues, giving you understanding (and appreciation) for the other side.

Culture Matters – Leaders at The Village Church discuss how faith intersects with cultural issues.

Thinking in Public – Dr. Albert Mohler has intelligent conversations about important theological and cultural issues with the people who are shaping them.