Disclaimer: The following books comprise a brief list of resources that we have found helpful for our church planters. In endorsing each of these books we are not saying that we agree on every point, but rather find the book as a whole helpful.
To Change The World
by James Hunter
The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive–and provocative–answers to these questions.
Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christians eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles W. Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve. What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls “faithful presence”–an ideal of Christian practice that is not only individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social life. He offers real life examples, large and small, of what can be accomplished through the practice of “faithful presence.” Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly ambitious attempts can ever be.
Written with keen insight, deep faith, and profound historical grasp, To Change the World will forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role in the modern world.
Truth and Authority in Modernity (Christian Mission and Modern Culture)
by Lesslie Newbigin
Breaking the Missional Code
by Ed Stetzer
Across North America, many pastors are excited to see churches growing as they achieve their mission to connect the message of the gospel with the community at large. Still others are equally frustrated, following the exact same model for outreach but with lesser results. Indeed, just because a “missional breakthrough” occurs in one place doesn’t mean it will happen the same way elsewhere.
One size does not fit all, but there are cultural codes that must be broken for all churches to grow and remain effective in their specific mission context. Breaking the Missional Code provides expert insight on church culture and church vision casting, plus case studies of successful missional churches impacting their communities.
God is the Gospel
by John Piper
Saturated with Scripture, centered on the cross, and seriously joyful, this book leads us to satisfaction for the deep hungers of the soul. It touches us at the root of life where practical transformation gets its daily power. It awakens our longing for Christ and opens our eyes to his beauty.
Piper writes for the soul-thirsty who have turned away empty and in desperation from the mirage of methodology. He invites us to slow down and drink from a deeper spring. This is eternal life, Jesus said, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. This is what makes the gospel and this book good news. Entire online book here.
Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission
by David Bosch
“The most comprehensive and thorough study of the Christian mission done in this generation, if not this century.” — Alan Neely
Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome
by Rodney Stark
Contemplating the rapid spread of early Christianity, Lucian the Martyr marveled in the fourth century that “almost the greater part of the world is now committed to this truth, even whole cities.” To explain Christianity’s remarkable success in capturing the cities of the Roman Empire, Stark deploys an empirical social science that exposes the flaws in previous historical theorizing. By parsing records of church construction, inscriptions on tombs, and names on imperial contract permits, Stark converts plausible conjectures into testable hypotheses about the growth of Christianity in the 31 largest Roman cities. And while some of the statistically validated hypotheses fit within conventional wisdom, others compel fresh thinking. The traditional belief that Christianity spread through mass conversion, for instance, gives way to a numerically substantiated dynamics of person-to-person conversion. And despite recent acclaim for the Gnostics as the true early Christians, the evidence links the Gnostic impulse to dying pockets of stubborn paganism, not the rising new faith.
The Open Secret
by Lesslie Newbigin
In this book, an eminent missionary-scholar describes the Christian mission as the declaration of an open secret–open in that it is preached to all nations, secret in that it is manifest only to the eyes of faith. The result is a thoroughly biblical attempt to lead the church to embrace its Christ-given task of presenting the gospel in our complex modern world.
The Church Between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America
by George R. Hunsberger, et al
This excellent collection of essays, written by a diverse group of Christian leaders working on the frontier of mission in North America, lays the groundwork for the newly emerging missionary encounter of the gospel with North American culture.
Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (The Gospel and Our Culture Series)
by Darrell L. Guder, Lois Barrett
What would a theology of the church look like that took seriously the fact that North America is now itself a mission field? This question lies at the foundation of this volume written by an ecumenical team of six noted missiologists.
Let the Nations Be Glad!
by John Piper, Tom Steller
More than 100,000 sold! Piper’s must-read plea for God-centeredness in evangelization points to worship as the church’s ultimate goal and proper fuel for outreach.
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
by Lesslie Newbigin
What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians’ faith? Newbigin addresses such questions in this incisive analysis of contemporary culture, and he suggests how Christians can more confidently affirm their faith in such a context.