Voices in Christian Formation: Henri Nouwen

BY Doug Jones

October 18, 2012




Voices in Christian Formation is a series of posts to help introduce some of the contemporary authors and speakers we can learn from as it pertains to our Christian formation. The posts focus on critical components of our Christian formation and provide a short bibliography to investigate each topic further.

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) is one of the greatest contributors to the field of spirituality and Christian formation in the 20th century. The former professor at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard ended his career as the community pastor at the L’Arche Community of Daybreak in Toronto, a home for the mentally disabled. He is the author of more than 40 books. I would like to highlight three that are worthy of repeated readings.

The Way of the Heart is Nouwen’s introduction to the complementary practices of silence and solitude. It is an extremely informative but also richly practical book on these practices of the desert. With encouragement and grace, Nouwen helps the reader understand the challenges, benefits, need for, and way of desert spirituality.

The Life of the Beloved may be my favorite book by Nouwen. This short treatment cuts through the noise of our culture and provides a fresh look at our Christian identity. He conveys this through the word Beloved and takes his time unpacking the meaning behind this term and the implications for us living in this world as God’s children.

In the Name of Jesus is Nouwen’s take on Christian leadership. He addresses the temptations leaders face and offers antidotes to help us keep Christ’s model of leadership as our focus.

In all his writing it is his vulnerability, grace, and authenticity that shine through Nouwen’s words. The titles that follow I recommend without hesitation.

Any personal encounters with the writings of Henri Nouwen?

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