For those thinking through what “missional church” might mean, I recommend two new books coming out in the next few months by colleagues of mine. I’ve read them and learned much from these two books. This is not rehash. These two books really add to the conversation. The first one is:
Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood by Alan Roxburgh.
I found this book to be a lucid unfolding of the confounding traps pastors fall into as they continually try to grow their church. As a result, we end up looking at church upside down and repeatedly end up working against participating in God’s Mission. In this book, Roxburgh helps us untangle these traps and helps us see what we are doing to ourselves! He has a wonderful exposition of Luke 10 that can be used to teach and expand the imaginations of our congregations for what God is calling us to be “in the neighborhoods.” I blurbed the book with the following:
“I’ve read Al Roxburgh over the years and, taking nothing away from his previous work, this is Roxburgh’s finest to date. His take on Luke 10 is compelling. Filled with stories and theological precision, this book takes us to new places for the future of Christ’s church in North America. It is sure to be a tour de force for the missional conversation. I am not being excessive when I say this book is brilliant.”
I wasn’t exagerating!
This book’s title might not knock you over. Nonetheless this book will be really helpful for the theologically minded in deciphering the issues surrounding “missional church.” The book maps the various streams of “missional” that have developed in the last ten years since the publishing of Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America in 1998. We all know that “missional” has become a highly diverse and even confusing discussion. This book places some order in the confusion and makes some constructive proposals for the future. My blurb for the book was as follows:
“The missional conversation, which has experienced explosive growth over the last ten years, has been in sore need of a road map. The Missional Church in Perspective provides just that. In this scholarly and generous guide, Van Gelder and Zscheile clear away the confusion by providing a masterful, historical description of the various tracks of the missional church. Along the way, they tell the whole story of the movement, assessing its weaknesses and making counter proposals. In so doing, they have given us the book that can chart the course for the next era of the missional church, one of the most vital missionary movements in North America.”
I think doing theology is important for anyone who seeks to lead his/her church into God’s mission amidst the new post Christendom challenges of the West. These two books are important for that reason. They provide theological foundations that undergird and shape ministry and the disposition of leadership necessary for leading in the missional church. The two books are just another reason why I am so pleased to be working with both Alan and Craig in the Doctor of Ministry program at Northern Seminary in Missional Church leadership. We hope to provide a place for serious theological reflection as well as provide the tools to shape the future church of mission in N America. If you’re interested, check us out here or e-mail me at Northern.