Recommended Reading List In Preparation for the MDiv Church in the City Program
The following is a list of books that are recommended for people about to enter the MDiv Church in the City (In-Ministry) Program. Each one deals with a different aspect of ministry related issues. Together they will be helpful in building a foundation for the ideas that you will encounter in the cohort.
The books are recommended. They are not required. None of them will be used as textbooks in the cohort, but each is valuable and would be an excellent addition to your library.
A. The Must Read Category
These first 2 books are unique in that they are written by Canadian leaders. Both are theologically solid and reflective books. They combine theory and practice in creative ways. The third is one of those books that forces us to reorient our thinking.
1. Nelson, Gary, Borderland Churches, St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2008.
· This book is the best starting point for anyone beginning to ask question about what it means to be a missional leader/church.
· It is very accessible and its illustrations come from a Canadian context.
· This book also has well thought out questions at the end of every chapter which make it particularly helpful for use in groups.
2. Roxburgh, Alan J. and Boren, M. Scott, Introducing The Missional Church, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009.
· Alan is one of the pioneers in the missional church conversation. His pastoral work in and around Toronto and Vancouver provide the context for the development of his theological reflection.
· The book is designed to answer the basic questions that everyone beginning this faces; what do you mean by missional church? Why is it important?
3. Newbigin, Lesslie, Foolishness to the Greeks. The Gospel and Western Culture, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986.
· This book is a must read. It is one of the most important books of the last century. While it is small in size, it is rich in content.
· Newbigin provides one of the most insightful critiques of the church in Western culture. But, he does not stop there. He also sets out some vital steps for a creative, missional engagement of our culture.
· This book was a key stimulus for a global wide discussion on the nature and mission of the church.
B. The following are all good and lay foundations. Pick and choose according to your interest and time.
4. Bauckham, Richard, Bible and Mission. Christian Witness in a Postmodern World, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.
· Biblical perspective on mission in a world where globalization is the understanding and postmodernity the framework.
· Explores themes of universality and particularity.
· It is a book with great contemporary relevance.
5. Foster, Richard, Celebration of Discipline, New York: Harper and Row, 1978.
· Explores the classical spiritual disciplines.
· Roots us in Scripture and the story of the people of God.
6. Middleton, J. Richard & Walsh, Brian J. Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be, Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.
· This is a good book on worldview. It helps the reader begin the process of asking how one speaks of a metanarrative in a pluralistic world.
· Surveys postmodern culture and philosophy
· How do Christians live faithfully in the midst of a shifting culture?
7. Mclaren, Brian, A New Kind of Christian, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
· A creative and insightful look at the Christian life.
· It provides a good framework for questions and rethinking the nature and mission of the Church.
8. Sweet, Leonard, Soul Tsunami. Sink Or Swim In the New Millennium Culture, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999.
· Implications of a changing world for the church in the 21st century.
· Cultural change, pluralism
· Engaging change
9. Webber, Robert, Ancient-Future Faith. Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999.
· How do we think through what it means to be the Church in a new paradigm?
· How do we express our faith in a context of changing worlviews.
· Christology, ecclesiology, mission, spirituality, worship are all topics which receive treatment in this book which is one of Webber’s best.
10. Van Gelder, Craig, The Essence of the Church. A Community Created by the Spirit, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000.
· Van Gelder explores the church’s essential missionary nature.
· Both scholarly and practical, this readable book takes the reader through an exploration of what it means to think about the church from a biblical framework.
· This is a good antidote to the continual drift toward pragmatism which characterizes so much of our church. It challenges us to resist the urge to find a quick fix program and to, instead, wrestle with contextualizing our theology of the church.
11. McNeal, Reggie. The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2003.
· Produced by the Leadership Network.
· A very practical book, full of pastoral wisdom.
· It is aware of the practices and challenges of congregational life.
· The book is written from the perspective of the missional paradigm.
· It works on the premise that we grow in the direction of the questions we are asking. So, if we want to change things, we must ask a new set of questions; the tough questions.
12. Schmit, Clayton J., Sent and Gathered. A Worship Manuel for the Missional Church, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009.
· The first book to wrestle with the implications of the mission dei for worship.
· It is very practical.
Marva Dawn has written a two-volume study of worship:
13. Dawn, Marva. Reaching Out without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co.1995.
· A solid, biblical approach to worship.
· Wrestles with the issues of authentic worship in a rapidly changing culture.
14. Dawn, Marva. A Royal “Waste” of Time: the Splendor of Worshipping God and Being Church for the World. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co. 1999.
· The book is readable and profound.
· The focus is uncompromisingly on God as the centre of worship.
· Dawn’s strength lies in her development of worship as building community and forming character.