Converting the church for the 21st century: Mapping the Way
Below you will find a Select Bibliography for “Out of the Box” Discipleship and Ministry
that I recommend as a starting place for re-envisioning the church for the 21st century.
The North American church is suffering from severe mission amnesia.
It has forgotten why it exists.” Reggie McNeal
The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church Reggie McNeal
McNeal addresses the collapse of the church culture. As he notes, “In North America the invitation to become a Christian has become largely an invitation to convert to the church..” In a day of anti-institutionalism, people run from this. As McNeal observes,
“people outside the church think church is for church people not for them.” How do we Deconvert from churchianity to Christianity? is only one of six tough questions raised in this book. McNeal’s aim is to help us think, pray, live and witness outside this church bubble we’ve created, that’s separate from the world where we live.
>Emerging Hope : “A Strategy for Reaching Postmodern Generations Jimmy Long
Long is the editor of the “Emerging Culture Curriculum” (IVP) and a veteran of 25 years of campus ministry. This is an excellent resource for understanding and responding to the changing cultural context of ministry, with GenX and Millenials. Long is a bit hard on blaming Boomer parents for the struggles of younger adults! Very helpful in discussing how younger generations view the church, their differences from previous generations, and implications for ministry. Summarizes material helpfully.
>ChurchNext: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry Eddie Gibbs
Another outstanding and hard-hitting survey of how the church needs to reposition itself vis-à-vis the culture we are seeking to address. Are we even seeking to address the culture?
Gibbs challenges us to move from living in the past to engaging the present.
Great discussion questions at the end of each chapter for your leadership team.
Nice quote: Gibbs describes much boomer religion as “religion-as-accessory, resulting in Gen X children taking the next step to religion as unnecessary.”
>The Essence of the Church Craig Van Gelder
Van Gelder is a leader in the Gospel and Culture Network. If you think there’s a simple method or technique to renew the church, you need to read this very stimulating book. The shelf-life of methods is shorter and shorter: from Seeker Sensitive to 7 Day A Week to User Friendly to Purpose Driven, to you name it. Dig deeper with Van Gelder
>Missional Church Darrell Guder ed.; The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin Substantive and challenging examinations that are foundational! Transforming Mission David Bosch is the most comprehensive missional theology of all! It is biblical, cultural in its analysis of obstacles to mission, deeply ecumenical, and practical in its strategic directions. Bosch reminds us that we in the church sometimes think crisis is abnormal for the life of faith. We would be far better off, argues Bosch, to realize that crisis has always been the church's context for ministry.
>The Emerging Church and Emerging Worship by Dan Kimball
Kimball is known as one of the leaders in the movement known as the Emerging Church. He’s in his early forties. In the first book listed, you’ll get a marvelous overview of what is happening in this movement of young leaders, with very helpful summaries of what this whole “postmodern” thing is about. Kimball’s book on worship shows how the seeker-sensitive movement addressed many baby boomers, but fails to connect with many of the rest of us, including younger generations drawn to an Ancient/Modern faith.
>Ancient-Future Worship and Ancient-Future Faith by Robert Webber
Webber is describing worship that has depth, is participatory, and is passionate. Webber is a well-known worship scholar and leader with a maturity in understanding the emerging church movement and challenges. Not to be missed. Sadly, Webber died about a year ago. But his legacy remains.
>A New Kind of Christian and More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren. Mclaren until a year or so ago was pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in suburban Maryland near D.C. He is a well-respected pastor, author, conference speaker and mentor to many in the Emerging Church movement. He is very imaginative! The first book comes in the form of a story dialogue between a near burned out pastor and a high school science teacher.
If you, like many of us, suspect that something radically different is happening in culture and church, this book is essential reading. Check out the discussion guide. The second book listed is one of the best books on faith-sharing with younger generations, or any other for that matter. This book takes the form of an extended conversation between McLaren and a young woman, a musician, via the use of e-mail. What if we thought of evangelism as a passionate conversation about things that matter? Things like beauty, purpose, love, life, faith, values, hurt and hope. Get this book!!!!!!!!!
<Why Christian? Douglas John Hall
Highly esteemed theologian here shows what it’s like to do imaginative theology and faith-sharing in the form of an ongoing series of tough conversations and patient listening between a college student and a professor (Hall is the professor). You’ll be drawn into this one!
>Life on the Vine Philip D. Kenneson IVPWhat’s the point of church and the Christian life? If we aren’t being transformed, why bother? Kenneson’s book is terrific in examining how the fruits of the Spirit challenge the consumer culture and emptiness of much of contemporary life inside and outside the church.