We couldn’t be prouder of our Writing Team at Missio Alliance. In areas of Culture, Formation, Global Church, Theology, and Witness, week after week this diverse group of theological practitioners leads us into deeper conversation about what it means to be the church on mission in 21st century North America.
At Missio Alliance, our writers are on-the-ground ministers and practitioners, offering their perspective not from the distant seat of academia (though many of them are distinguished scholars) but from the trenches of everyday ministry. Their desire is to equip members of the church through charitable dialogue, careful theological analysis, and hopeful imagination so that we all might more fully participate in the glorious mission to which God has invited us.
So you’ll permit me to brag on them a little bit at the end of this calendar year. When it comes to our Writing Team’s work, both at Missio Alliance and through other venues, I want to be first in line to pore over what they are offering Christ’s church through their careful labor. What they have to say matters.
As a multivocational pastor, there are always more books out there than I have time to read. Like many of you, I have learned the practice of accumulating an essential reading list, then selecting at the start of each new year what I’ll dive into for the next 12 months.
Take a moment. Grab that list. Open that file on your computer where you store such things, or locate that journal where you jot it down by hand, because you’ll definitely want to make note of these. These are seven books published within this past year that have been authored or contributed to by members of our Writing Team.2017 Books by Missio Alliance authors including @TaraBeth82, Karen Wilk, @EfremSmith, @ASistasJourney, @derekvreeland, @RevDrDre, @SeanPalmer. Click To Tweet
7 Essential Reads from Our Missio Alliance Writing Team
(In alphabetical order and accompanied by the publisher’s blurb)
1. Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry by Tara Beth Leach
Throughout Scripture and church history, women have been central to the mission of God. But all too often women have lacked opportunities to minister fully. Many churches lack visible examples of women in ministry and leadership.
Pastor Tara Beth Leach issues a stirring call for a new generation of women in ministry: to teach, to preach, to shepherd, and to lead. God not only permits women to minister—he emboldens, empowers, and unleashes women to lead out of the fullness of who they are. The church cannot reach its full potential without women using their God-given gifts. Leach provides practical expertise for how women can find their place at the table, escape impostor syndrome, face opposition, mentor others, and much more.
When women teach, preach, lead, evangelize, pastor, and disciple, and when men partner to embolden the women in their lives, the church’s imagination expands to better reflect God’s story and hope for the world.
.@tarabeth82 has chosen the right word to describe what God is doing: embolden the woman as a way of letting the gifts of God be given to the people of God. @scotmcknight Click To Tweet
Tara Beth has chosen the right word to describe not only women who have gone before us, what God is doing among women today, but also what especially church leaders need to be doing today: embolden the woman as a way of letting the gifts of God be given to the people of God. Scot McKnight
2. Gospel, Kingdom and Leadership (Voices of the Missional Movement Book 2) by Anthony Brown, Cam Roxburgh, Karen Wilk, Scot McKnight, and Scott Hagley
This ebook is the second in the “Voices of the Missional Movement” series and features a compilation of articles written by four of thirteen different authors with a wide variety of academic and practical experience, as a way to encourage pastors, church leaders and thinking Christians everywhere to reflect on the challenges facing the church in North America.
3. Killing Us Softly: Reborn in the Upside-Down Image of God by Efrem Smith
The Christian life is actually a kind of death. We die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. Dying in Christ, however, is an opportunity—to experience the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit as we spread the Good News of a God who loves us enough to save us and remake us in his image.
Efrem Smith helps us see that Christian discipleship is a counterintuitive life. In a world turned upside down by sin, God carefully and lovingly strips us of worldly values and turns us right-side up as good citizens and ambassadors of his Kingdom.
4. Mentor for Life Leader’s Training Manual by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Though churches are filled with good ministry programming—activities, outreach events, and an endless selection of options—many churches neglect their fundamental mission: to make disciples and equip them for service. All human beings ask the same fundamental question: “What is my life’s purpose?” Through the pursuit of Christ and with a focus on his kingdom work, we find the answer to that question. Mentoring for God’s kingdom helps us find our purpose and prepares us to lead well. In the Mentor for Life Leader’s Training Manual, a companion to Mentor for Life, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson lays a solid foundation for mentoring as intentional discipleship within the context of a small community.
5. N.T. Wright and the Revolutionary Cross: A Reader’s Guide to The Day the Revolution Began by Derek Vreeland
The death of Jesus is the foundation of our faith, but what do we mean when we confess that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture? N.T. Wright’s book The Day the Revolution Began offers compelling answers to that question. His book is nothing less than a game changer. Just as Wright’s book Surprised By Hope changed our view of the end, so this book is changing our view of the cross. This reader’s guide offers a clear summary of Wright’s interpretation of the cross in the context of both history and the big story told by the Bible. Using this reader’s guide prayerfully will open up vistas of the love of God as you see the revolutionary cross with new eyes. Such a renewed vision will stir your thinking, prompt new conversations about the cross, cause your love for Christ to grow, and equip the Church to carry forth her gospel-shaped mission.
6. The Story of God Bible Commentary: 1 Peter by Dennis Edwards
A new commentary for today’s world, The Story of God Bible Commentary explains and illuminates each passage of Scripture in light of the Bible’s grand story. The first commentary series to do so, SGBC offers a clear and compelling exposition of biblical texts, guiding readers in how to creatively and faithfully live out the Bible in their own contexts. Its story-centric approach is ideal for pastors, students, Sunday school teachers, and all who want to understand the Bible in today’s world.
SGBC is organized into three easy-to-use sections, designed to help readers live out God’s story: Listen to the Story; Explain the Story; and Live the Story.[Editor’s Note: What I appreciate about Dennis Edwards’ commentary is how he points to what a church that is living increasingly in the margins can learn from peoples who have historically lived in the margins of our society: women, immigrants, and people of color. The stories and illustrations he draws from their lives demonstrates that the rest of the church can—and must—learn from them.]
7. Unarmed Empire: In Search of Beloved Community by Sean Palmer
Shunned. Condemned. Controlled. Describing church, believers and nonbelievers deploy stinging terms to define an imperial, culturally privileged, and powerful American force. Church has become synonymous with shame, exclusion, and hostility. This is not the church of Jesus. American Christians are victims of a deliberate and shortsighted scheme designed to identify and defeat religious, cultural, and sexual Others. From the language of “makers and takers,” to “if you’re not for us, you’re against us,” to the continual suggestion that we are soldiers in a constant series of wars—the war on women, the war on the family, the war on Christians, the war on Christmas, the war on terror, and much more—Christians are near the heart of enmity.
The New Testament, however, seeks to create an alternative community—a community devoid of fear, wherein God’s love and acceptance are mediated to all people through the grace of Jesus. In Unarmed Empire, Sean Palmer reclaims the New Testament’s vision of the church as an alternative community of welcome, harmony, and peace. Unarmed Empire is for everyone who’s been misled about church. It’s for everyone who feels blacklisted by believers, everyone who has been hurt. It’s for everyone longing for a purer experience of church.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.