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The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  687 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Yet many times we've gotten it wrong, tending to emphasize personal faith over social justice or vice versa. In these pages Jim Smith shows us how to bring spiritual formation and community engagement together, and then once again offers spiritual practices that root new, true narratives about God and the world in our souls. His insight and humility as a fellow learner wit ...more
Paperback, 237 pages
Published August 4th 2010 by IVP Books (first published July 21st 2010)
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Kathie Davis Yes. They are meant to build on one another but each has its own emphasis.

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Cara Putman
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some really good and though-provoking chapters. Would love to discuss with others. It really is a book meant to be read in community.
Terri Milstead
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent series of books for small group study. Definitely should be done as a series. Great facilitator resources are available online for free that go beyond the already good group meeting material at the back of each book. I found this series to be a nice break from the level of reading required in Disciple Bible studies while still providing the group a very similar bonding experience. (I am a firm believer that shared outside reading and prep work increases group bonding.)
aundrea (tchnclrwords)
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
The true social activist is the person who lives as an apprentice of Jesus in his or her ordinary relationships.

I have come to my senses and realize that I have to help strengthen my faith with spiritual practices. It is in this Apprentice series that I began to understand how faith can be practiced and fed on, not only depended on.

This book was an eye-opener. And it made me think about some realizations:
1. “After seeing all of these people who have peace and joy and love, I wanted to have wh
Tamara Murphy
Our small group at church finished this, the third and final title in James Bryan Smith’s Apprentice series. I’m still impressed not only with the author's substantive, but accessible, theological insight, but also with his gracious tone and impeccable recommendations for spiritual practices to make each theological truth about what it means to live in church community root itself deeply in our hearts. Highly recommend - especially for group reading! ...more
Kenny Wong
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good series of books for small group discussion

These 3 books in the series are good for small group discussion. I guess the James is using the method of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to change our behaviour. In each chapter, he list out our false narratives. He will not condemn on the false narratives at the very first beginning. Rather, he will walk through with us how wrong are the false believes which alter our behaviour. Then he list out he true narratives and explain to us clear why those nar
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it
"The Good and Beautiful Community" is an encouraging, helpful book that provides practical steps to help any Christian improve the way they live in community with others. Each chapter includes a section titled "Soul Care," where Smith provides actual steps and practices for the reader to engage with.

Each chapter will help the reader delve deeper into Christian community-development and hone their spiritual formation practices. Filled with tons of stores and anecdotes from the Smith, "The Good an
Chad Stutzman
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the third book in his series and I loved all three books. I read these with a group of men and the discussions have been productive and helpful. This last book on community was very good in understanding the role and importance of people and the church in our spiritual journey. The honesty and real life stories help you connect with the ideas and the soul exercises are fantastic in putting it into practice.
Diana Davis
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend doing this series of books. Each chapter grabbed my attention and I was able to focus on a different spiritual aspect for a week. I went through these books with a group, and really recommend doing so if you want to get the best out of them. Hearing each other's perspectives and ideas helps us grow spiritually and gives us someone to mentor or be mentored. These aren't books I will read just once, it will be something to reference and look up in the future! ...more
Kayla Dean
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This series is by far the best thing I’ve ever read about Spiritual Formation. James Bryan Smith does such an incredible job of calling us into a deeper life with Jesus and with our fellow Jesus Followers without legalism and with deep love. This book, and the others like it were encouraging, convicting, and empowering. I have been and will continue to recommend it to anyone who wants to grow closer to Jesus in their lives.
Rena Brown
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
now I need to go and do that homework and see some life changing results. I think this book is really helpful for developing the Christian lifestyle.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan

After completing this third book of the series I am convinced the presence of Jesus in me has changed. Thank You for the experience.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Will need to read again. Not as good as the first.
Jenny Snyder
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Informative, Challenging with a couple of eye opening concepts (for me at least)
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good ideas for practices to put in place to build up
The Christian life.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
He obviously cares deeply for people and loves God, but the book is fluffy for my taste. Doctrine matters.
Daniel Cash
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this series. Practical, thoughtful, helpful.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Super practical take on faith-informed community building, improving on the vague or fluffy sections of "A Bigger Table" and "Community: the Structure of Belonging." Strong 4.5.

"Soul Training" sections at the end of each chapter were super helpful (churches in different cultural contexts could easily add/adapt). Am considering exercising a chapter a month.

Would love for every church community, especially american churches or those of us who have gotten to used to 'comfort gospel', to read/challe
Lindsey Ripple
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this to be the most divisive of the series - which to be fair the author said it was written as he was learning as well. I didn’t see as many practical applications for my life as I did in the first two Apprentice series books.
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book- the whole Apprenticeship series as a matter of fact.
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fantastic, accessible and useful spiritual read.
Dr. Trent
Nov 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute
Dr. James Bryan Smith has written a good book for small group instruction as the third installment of his Apprentice series. The Good and Beautiful Community does a respectable job of looking at the importance of serving as one church under Christ and developing a faith community. All the ideas that Dr. Smith shares are both biblical and clearly from the heart. He obviously has a lov
Amy Senter
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Insightful book that explores the false narratives we have of who we are as Christians. It then lays out the true narratives and challenges you to live them out. My favorite part was the last chapter where you review everything in the book and create a plan on how to make it applicable to living it out in your own life.
Josh Morgan
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café (

Back in 2010, I reviewed the second in James Bryan Smith's Good and Beautiful series. Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to an audiobook version of the third book, The Good and Beautiful Community. Most of my reactions about the process of the book were similar to the prior. Smith is a good, accessible writer, who makes abstract concepts easily understandable.

One of the big differences is that this book did seem
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the third book in the Apprentice Trilogy, and for me, it is the most insightful and challenging. I enjoyed the first two Apprentice books, which dealt with issues of who God is and how we personally respond to Him, and this book takes the next step by exploring the idea of how we work these changed lives out in community. A reader may expect this book to focus entirely within the walls of a church, and that is where most of the attention goes, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the wa ...more
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the third book of Smith’s Apprentice series, he explores the communal practices which shape a vibrant Christian community. He introduces this by exploring the foundational disciplines that make us a “peculiar” community, radical connectedness to the Spirit’s leading that flows into radical generosity toward others and the world. Subsequent chapters focus on our shared hope and expression of the gospel, how we serve one another including prayerfulness, how we love across our differences in Chr ...more
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I definitely enjoyed reading this series. I found this third instalment in James Bryan Smith's Apprentice Series just as relevant and helpful as his two previous books.
And truthfully, I found this book more enlightening for me because I have always struggled with this aspect of Christian life: church community, and really the entire community around me, my "neighbours". Smith provides a lot of insight to how to view one's community, what Jesus taught about it, and how to follow Christ while int
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Page 16:
"Jesus, then, is both the model and the means of the compassion. I can live, love, serve and accept others because Jesus does those things for me. I am giving what I have, not what I lack. Christ-in-me must be cultivated in personal exercises such as solitude, lectio divina, prayer, slowing down and so on. But that same Christ-in-me propels me to love others, accept them and make sacrifices of myself for them."

Page 34:
"There have always been Christians who are well-adjusted to greed, we
David Blankenship
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The point of this book, and the entire 'Good and Beautiful' series, is the transformation of character to make Christians into genuine followers of Jesus. This book focuses on do we live with one another? There is so much practical truth to this book, so many good ideas about what it means both within the church and how this applies to dealing with those who are our neighbors. It's a book that deserves to be returned to, but the challenge of it is how to put these things into pra ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated reading this book as part of the young adult book study group at my church. It has helped me to reflect upon things that myself and the rest of my church community can do to deepen our relationships with God, with ourselves, and with others, in ways that make sense for our modern lives. It was easy to read while also containing engaging examples and stories. There was also a "soul training" component, which challenged me to actually put what I was reading into practice. I fe ...more
Adam Shields
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Short Review: The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith - last of a trilogy on spiritual growth - this third book focuses on the role of community in spiritual growth and wraps up the trilogy by helping the reader make a long term plan for focusing on spiritual growth. The trilogy is intended to be a one year curriculum for a small group, but I read the first and last of the trilogy so far as an individual and I think they are well worth reading by yourself if you do not have a small ...more
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James Bryan Smith (M.Div., Yale University Divinity School, D.Min., Fuller Seminary) is a theology professor at Friends University in Wichita, KS and a writer and speaker in the area of Christian spiritual formation. He also serves as the director of the Aprentis Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends University.

A founding member of Richard J. Foster's spiritual renewal ministry, R

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