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Changing Yourself to Change the World

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Westminster John Knox Press
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From the masses of young people spurning organized religion to faithful followers of Jesus, there is a deep hunger across gender, age, socioeconomics, and denominational backgrounds for practical, tangible ways to live a life of love, mercy, and justice in our divided, fragmented world. But where do we start? It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the world's problems, with solutions to violence and poverty and oppression seeming so far out of reach.

But you have more power to change the world than you realize—and it starts with changing yourself.

In Practicing, Pastor Kathy Escobar inspires and challenges readers with practical encouragement to live their faith through real action using ten transformational practices, including listening more, including the marginalized, advocating for justice, and mourning with those who grieve. By putting our hearts, hands, and feet behind our good intentions, we can transform our groups, our communities, and our world. Extremely interactive, relational, and practical, Practicing can be read alone or processed together with a group, church, or class.

Perfect for book clubs! Download the Reading Group Guide.

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Kathy Escobar is the cofounder and copastor of The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration serving in North Denver since 2006. She's a pastor, spiritual director, speaker, organizational consultant, advocate, and author of several books, including Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World and Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe Is Coming Apart. She's also co-executive director and founder of #CommunityHeals: Making Spaces for Transformation Accessible for All. Find out more at
A Weary World
Reflections for a ...
by Westminster John Knox Press
Kathy Escobar
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Changing Yourself ...
by Westminster John Knox Press
Kathy Escobar
List Price $22.00
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“Kathy is a leader I trust completely. Her work is so vital, so needed in our current landscape as the church struggles to navigate a path forward that is healthy and life giving and truly an embodiment of good news. Tender, weary, disoriented ones take heart: here is your pastor. Kathy is a faithful companion to those who wander, stumble, and, against all odds, continue to hope.”

—Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Miracles and Other Reasonable Things


“Kathy Escobar has that rare and brilliant gift of being able to x-ray our lives and to give words to our fears, pains, and longings so that we can see them clearly. Practicing is both deeply moving and incredibly insightful. I know it will be both a place of refuge and a catalyst for transformation for those fortunate enough to read it. The world has never been more in need of a book like this—and Kathy is the only one who could have given it to us.”

—John Pavlovitz, author of A Bigger Table

“Kathy Escobar understands that the call toward authentic living is sacred and holy and for the greater good. In Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, she shares the wisdom of her journey with fellow travelers who dare to take the road less traveled. Her clear and cogent guide is the kind of companion we all need as we practice generous living in these turbulent times.”

—Paula Stone Williams, TED speaker and advocate for gender equity

“There are few people who live so fully, so thoughtfully, so serenely as Kathy Escobar. Now she has written a marvelous guide to help the rest of us do the same. A wise and gracious primer on life in the Spirit.”

—Philip Gulley, Quaker pastor and author of If the Church Were Christian


“In an era of world history where the word Christian has become synonymous with theological debate, social inaction, and discrimination, Practicing emerges as a healing balm, offering a practical guide for people of faith to reconnect with our faith not just on a pious or intellectual level but in a way that impacts every aspect of our lives. With winsomeness, insight, and practical teaching, Escobar guides us on a path that will breathe new life into our faith and cause Christians to become a people who not only believe but also embody good news to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us. If you’re ready for a spiritual renewal, read this book!”

—Brandan Robertson, lead pastor of Missiongathering San Diego and author of The Gospel of Inclusion: A Christian Case for LGBT+ Inclusion in the Church

“Changing ourselves to change the world inspires me. I love the way that Kathy calls us not just to personal reflection and action but also to community action. Kathy’s diverse experience and her willingness to be vulnerable provide a unique and enriching approach to spiritual practices that is refreshing to read and compelling to apply to our lives. This is a very important book for all who want to grow in faith and deepen their intimacy with God.”

—Christine Aroney-Sine, contemplative, activist, author of The Gift of Wonder, and facilitator of


“I don’t go to Kathy for the latest social justice hot take. I go to her to learn how to translate meaningful ideas into meaningful action—to move from speaking truth to living out the truth in sustainable ways among the complicated realities of human lives intersecting one another. She never promises quick fixes but advocates for the slow labor of practicing in the direction of justice. She lives this stuff, as you’ll see inside the pages of this book, and she lit the road so that we can travel on it together.”

—Cindy Wang Brandt, author of Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindness

“Kathy Escobar’s book is a welcomed work, especially now when so many good people are overwhelmed with bad things happening in the world. Kathy’s concern for seeing healthy values translated into effective action is evident not only in her own life but also in the lives of the communities she’s associated with. Each chapter is so deep, informative, and helpful. But at the end of each chapter, she helps us render it into everyday living. What a great resource for personal transformation, community development, and world change!”

—David Hayward, the NakedPastor

“Amid the chaos of a deeply divided world, as well as churches that have conflated the good news with the illusion of the American dream, there has risen a heart-wrenching cry for love, dignity, and genuine belonging. Kathy Escobar hears and responds with hard-won wisdom that is pastoral, humble, and refreshingly honest. Drawing deeply from her Christian roots, she teaches practices that are not only well researched but have been well honed through the beautiful ‘everyday’ of real life with real people. If you want to learn more about what love looks like, read this book. If you want to become a lover of human souls, read this book. If you want to create a community of love, read this together. While it will certainly bring some discomfort, I am convinced that what Kathy Escobar offers is the most gospel-oriented, practical book on personal and communal transformation that exists today.”

—Ellen Haroutunian, psychotherapist, Benedictine oblate, and spiritual director


“Practicing reminds us how much we need one another and how much we need to see what is right with us. This book nudges us all closer to ourselves, to each other, and to God by outlining simple spiritual practices. It is an essential guide for transformation in the messy and beautiful.”

—Jan Shegda, PCC, IEA Accredited Professional, founder of Clarity Coaching, and Enneagram teacher

“I trust Kathy’s heart because I have seen her practice what she preaches. Now she breaks open and preaches—in the best way—what she has been practicing for so many years. I, for one, need to take off perfectionism and lean into the grace and wisdom of these practices. This is a beautiful, humble, wise, and world-changing book.”

—Idelette McVicker, founder of SheLoves magazine

“Personal and collective transformation is foundational to creating just and healthy systems in society. And practices are foundational to that change. Kathy brilliantly and compellingly invites us on a journey of transformation through ten practices, which, as she illustrates, are foundational for those wanting to effect change in our increasingly complex world. She has a unique capacity to see the systems of injustice and both to articulate practices for those who hold power and privilege in the systems and to daily be in practice as a learner with those who have been oppressed by the same system. Kathy takes us to the depths of our souls and provides practical steps for growth and action, while holding the complexity and mystery. And she always leaves us with hope!”

—Pamela Wilhelms, founder of Wilhelms Consulting Group and the Soul of the Next Economy Initiative


“What a joy to find including, equalizing, mourning, and failing (failing!) on a list of spiritual practices alongside the traditional practices of prayer, meditation, service, and fasting found in thousands of other works on the topic. Practicing cuts through the traditional theological arguments and trendy spiritual experiments and offers a path for walking out the core principles of embodied faith in a way that is holistic, sustainable, satisfying, and fruitful. In Practicing, Kathy Escobar has given hope and a practical path to those of us who long to make our faith a verb for the sake of the world as well as our own souls.”

—Phyllis Mathis, spiritual mentor and cocreator of Walking Wounded: Hope for Those Hurt by Church

“Kathy Escobar is a true doer of the Word, not just a hearer only. She brings her pastoral heart to everything she does, including this latest offering, which is a true gift to all of us who are seeking to follow Jesus and not just be a fickle fan.” 

—Steve Roach Knight, cofounder of Transform Network


“Escobar is a gem as a teacher and writer. You will leave this book better than when you picked it up. Every individual and every faith community will benefit from the lessons on these pages. This is ao important piece of work for anyone who interacts with those on the margins of society (which is to say everyone), and the chapter on grief alone is worth the cost of the book.”

—Jerry Herships, pastor and author of Rogue Saints and Last Call

“A good book delivers on its promise, and this book does just that—challenging us to explore questions of faith that. refuse to find satisfaction in a pithy response. We are invited to explore and venture out of our comfort zones to practice and dare to change. Practicing does not raise a ruckus and leave us hanging like an unscrupulous contractor who vanishes halfway through a major home renovation project. Instead, it allows for our fear of change while refusing to bow to the relentless pressure to stay small and safe. Kathy provides us a map and, perhaps most importantly, permission—permission to try, to fall down, and to rise and permission to have a little faith. What a great book!”

—Teresa McBean, copastor at Northstar Community and Executive Director of the National Association for Christian Recovery

“Here is a well written and accessible book that is filled with stories of Escobar’s own life, as well as the lives of those who have traveled with her on this journey. In her discussion of the ten practices, she provides u with tools to change ourselves so we can participate with God in changing the world. By focusing on personal change, we will discern the truth that we can’t change the world by ourselves.” —Ponderings on a Faith Journey
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