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Publisher's Summary

During our chaotic times, discover five forgotten values that can spark internal growth and help us reconcile our Christian faith with the complexities of race, sexuality, and social justice.

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)

©2020 Rich Villodas (P)2020 Random House Audio

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Encouraging and Challenging

I found this book to be filled timely lessons and encouragements, so relevant to the world as we know it currently. I became a fan of Rich via his Instagram feed and love his short snippets of daily insight. This book fleshes out those ideas in an honest and challenging way. Highly recommend!

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A Pathway to Transformation

Excellent book by Rich V. The book builds on and adds to emotionally healthy spirituality approach to spiritual transformation. The contribution to racial reconciliation and sexual wholeness are particularly useful snd thought provoking. Highly recommended.

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See wholistic life transformation

Brilliant book! It’s hard not to be transformed by this book, don’t read/listen to it if you don’t want to change. Rich writes in a real, honest, engaging and vulnerable way about how Jesus changes every part of our lives. He gives practical tools and practices we can put in place to see the transforming power of the Spirit at work.
Wholistic life change is not only possible but is desirable and something we are to seek after.

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  • Adam Shields
  • 20-10-2020

Discipleship in America

Summary: Discipleship focused on five values: Contemplative rhythms, racial reconciliation, interior examination, sexual wholeness, and missional presence. 

About ten years ago, I remember being struck as I read John Stott's last book (also on discipleship) how much culture impacts how we understand discipleship. Stott had chapters on environmentalism and international ecumenical cooperation (focusing on nuanced and negotiated written agreements and statements of faith). Some books on environmentalism talk about discipleship issues and some books on ecumenical cooperation also talk about the need to disciple people into church unity. Still, in general, those are unusual topics for a general book on discipleship. Stott was writing in a context where those were not unusual topics of discipleship. Stott's UK background and the US background are different, so books on discipleship have different emphases.

Rich Villodas is a pastor in NYC. Three of the list of his discipleship values will be found in many books. Two of his discipleship values are less common. According to Barna, White Evangelicals have become more interested in racial issues and are more opposed to discussing racial issues. There is an increasing divide within the White Evangelical world regarding justice issues more broadly, but racial justice in particular. Pew shows a 15-20% drop in the percent of the population that self identifies as Evangelical over the past decade. (And I antidotally suspect that it may be an undercount, but it may also just be my cohort.)

The reality is that it is becoming increasingly clear that the demographic dominance of White Evangelicals of the cultural conversation is waning. If for nothing other than pragmatic reasons, there is increasing awareness among some about the need for ethnic diversity within the church. As part of an aside in an online lecture from Esau McCaulley on theology and race, he noted that seminaries and colleges that primarily have catered to White theological training will have to change, or some of them will die, solely because of demographic trends.

The Deeply Formed Life is not taking a pragmatic/utilitarian approach to the need for racial reconciliation among Christians. He is rooting it as a central value, particularly because of our racially and culturally divided age. John 13 quotes Jesus as saying, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." But evidence of that love is often lacking.

Sexual Wholeness is more common in discipleship conversation among teens and young 20 somethings, but that is most about avoidance and purity. Many have been grappling with the repercussions of the past 20-25 years' purity movement, and there will be more grappling in the future. The key, which I think Villodas balances well, is to discuss why sexual wholeness is important and then offer grace for those who have either been sexual abused or more actively participated in sexual misconduct in their past. If polls around sexual activity are relatively accurate, teen sexual activity is down, but adult sexual activity outside of marriage (because of lower or later marriage rates) may be up. Porn use is pervasive, which seems to be correlated with reduced sexual activity. So this chapter is important, and what it means to be a Christian in a sexualized society should be part of an understanding of discipleship.

The three other topics are more traditional and tied to the historic church and traditional spiritual disciplines. The reality is that across cultures, some practices seem to be nearly universal around spiritual practices. Being quiet, seeking to hear God, working to live in a way that represents God well, and showing what it means to have good character and be impacted by Christ is no less true in NYC than in 11th century Rome or 4th century Ethiopia.

No book of discipleship is perfect for everyone. As much as we are to be oriented toward Christ's Kingdom first, the reality is that we are always Christians within a local space and culture. And how we work out what it means to be Christian must necessarily be tied to that culture, geography, and time. This is a discipleship book worth reading.

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  • CLCA
  • 26-12-2020

Healing for Evangelicals who see the Imperfections

This is a book I need to read over and over again. I just finished my first run though. I was brought up in a nondenominational evangelical church. as I grew in faith, I also questioned so much of what was instilled in me from my youth. It made me feel like an outsider, like I wasn't the right kind of Christian because I wasn't a one issue voter, because I wasn't keeping track of how many sounds I'd "won" for Christ or how many jewels I'd be getting in my crown. Due to recent events in our country and the church's reaction to it, I've become estranged with that church family. Reading Rich's word reminds me of the legitimacy of my faith and the convictions that forced me from my childhood home. They are a healing reminder of what it truly means to be a Christian follower in the world and the practice that can draw us deeper. I look forward to reading it again and following his advice from the epilogue to put those rhythms into practice.

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  • Kelvin Walker
  • 20-09-2020

A MUST READ!!!

A fresh, compelling, and deeply transforming look at what it means to deeply formed/transformed by Christ. This is one of the best discipleship tools I have ever read. It is far from programmatic. But it is highly effective. It’s a wonderful mix of sound theology, biblical truth, appropriate and effective personal illustration, and well researched support. This is a gift to the Church and to the world. Thank you, Rich, for this book, and for reading the audio version yourself. It adds to the effectiveness.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-01-2022

Ancient truth with modern relevance.

This book will help you to be a more thoughtful Christian in many ways. He approaches the sanctifying spiritual disciplines of prayer, self examination, and solitude but also pairs it with imperative social action engaging with the culture around us. Rich is an engaging preacher and so his performance reading this book keeps you engaged and interested the whole time.
One thing I would have loved would be for him to root certain claims a little more. He'll refer to, for example, current racial injustice I am with him but he doesn't use examples or build a case. And for this I would be concerned that some readers who might be pursuaded by his case would write this off too easily as being "social justicy". That's an entirely different issue and every book can't fix every person but I think a some data would go a long way to help his case in certain instances.

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  • Felicia Haar
  • 17-11-2021

A fantastic way to improve your walk with Christ &

love towards others, in a biblical way, in your life.

I usually find devotionals boring, unengaging, and hard to implement. This was NONE of those things.
It was interesting, engaging, personal, and relatable to implement.

It contains material to challenge you no matter where you are in life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-07-2021

Spiritual Formation for the modern context!

As a Pastor overseeing Spiritual Formation in my church here in Burbank, CA, this book gave some clear and convicting rhythms for living the fully fleshed out life Jesus intended for us to live in Him. Pastor Rich’s context of NYC is probably what most intrigued me. Being from NY myself, I can relate with all the examples and illustrations he gave, while also boosting my love and longing to plant a church in Queens one day!

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  • M. Edwards
  • 16-05-2021

Good topics which can be explored deeper

I found some chapters or (sections of chapters) of this book to be quite helpful while others came across as somewhat superficial treatments (ironic since the book's title hints at depth). It has been a few years since I read Pete Scazzaro's earlier books and I haven't read his latest yet, but a few of the topics in the Deeply Formed Life came across a little too much as mere rehashes of what I had read earlier from him. If you are looking for insight or more thorough treatment on some of the other topics, you may do better by reading other recent Christian authors who write about them with greater depth (Swoboda's Subversive Sabbath, Earley's The Common Rule, Witt's Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul for just three recent ones I read which come to mind).

One thought Villodas expressed in a couple of places particularly troubled me and made me wonder if the author ought to reconsider any New Testament implications of God's call upon Ezekiel in chapters 3 and 33 to be a watchman.

Having said, I bookmarked several quotes in the audiobook which I found to be especially well-expressed and/or insightful: "the insidious practice of splitting", that is, the subconscious habit of disconnecting aspects of ourselves instead of integrating them into ourselves, "normalized dysfunctions" in families, and especially the paragraph in which Villodas expresses how people in different professions all work for Jesus. I'm sure you will be edified and challenged in many places as well!

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  • Monique Sawyer
  • 21-02-2021

Great book! Revelant for today!

This is a timely book. It leaves you with things to ponder. You might want to read over some chapters again.

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  • Raul H.
  • 31-07-2022

Wow!

This book was insightful, eye opening, refining, and helps you take a deep look at yourself, others, and your faith. This need challenges you to grow in a way that mirrors the vision Christ has for His followers.

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  • live the mission
  • 21-07-2022

Stop reading the reviews and read the book already!

Phenomenal work! Thank you for sharing this with us. I just finished the first time through entire book. I’m about to listen to it again to make sure I catch anything I missed and to remind myself of the incredible truths shared.

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