Recommend Books on Church

On my ridiculously long “books I want to read” list, there are a growing number on the subject of the church.

Obviously, as a good member of a New Frontiers church, I hope to read Christ’s Radiant Church by John Hosier, and What on Earth is the Church For, by David Devenish. On top of that, I’ve heard recommendations of books such as Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris and The Gospel Driven Church by Ian Stackhouse.

Then there’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, a book title that grabbed my attention, because by my calculations there are eight people called Mark in the church I belong to, so just one more needed for us to be healthy. And there’s Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church (glad I didn’t sign the pledge to do his 40 days of purpose – I only got to day 2). Snyder’s Community of the King and Clowney’s The Church also look like they might be worth a read.

And then I have a feeling that I could do with reading something about this whole emerging church business. Do I read Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church to get a critique of it from someone I respect, or MacLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy to hear it direct from the horse’s mouth? Would Kimball’s The Emerging Church be a better choice? Perhaps I would be better off reading someone who seems to be both emerging and reformed evangelical friendly – Mark Driscoll’s book Radical Reformission.

So my dear blog readers, what’s the best book you’ve read on the church? Which of the above are worth my while, and which are a waste of time? Answers in the comments below please…

7 thoughts on “Recommend Books on Church

  1. Mark – great question.

    For emerging, I would read Carson’s book last of those mentioned as his critique has generally been seen by those within ‘Emerging/Emergent etc’ as a ‘straw man’ argument. Driscoll’s book and his church – in my opinion anyway – don’t really engage with the ’emerging conversation’, but are rather just continuing to reform the model of doing reformed (albeit the baptist version) theology – we should all be doing that in every culture shouldn’t we, so although they have great ideas there really isn’t much new or emerging about it. Kimball and Maclaren are your best bet – perhaps beginning with Maclaren’s latest – the provocatively called ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’ – and then onto his trilogy.

    All the other books you mentioned are on my reading list too. I have also heard Graham Tomlin’s ‘The Provocative Church’ is good (he was principle of Wycliffe and now the ‘resident’ theologian at Holy Trinity Brompton heading up their school of theology.

    My own favourites are Newbigin’s ‘The Open Secret’ – it majors on the church as the agent of the Kingdom as the mission of the Trinity – and NT Wright’s (sadly out of print) ‘Bringing the Church to the World.’

    Finally, Snyder’s ‘Models of the Kingdom’ is in a modern version of Avery Dulles ‘Models of the Church’. Both very good for general ecclesiology.

    Oh and how could I not recommend my father’s (out of print) book, ‘The Radical Church’! It represents the radical passion my father had for the church, and although my father changed his mind later in life on some of the secondary issues in the book, the general thrust remains solid, passionate and provocative Bryn Jones!

  2. I would second the Bryn Jones recommendation. For me the “Radical Church” is the best – married with Terry Virgo’s “Does the Future Have a Church?”. They are both passionate for the church, optimistic that we are indeed going somewhere on a mission, and have a high view of God and His gifts that He has given us. Must reads!

  3. Hi Mark,

    For what it’s worth……..;-)

    My ‘theory’ is that ekklesiology divides into 3 possibilities. Two which are a ‘distortion’ and one which is, perhaps, the ‘ideal’.

    Within Western ekklesiology (since the great Schism of 1054 and including the reformation) we have generally being batting around with the two ‘distortions’ trying to get them to work, tweeking here and there and realising one aspect only to swing over to an equal and opposite distortion.

    However, within traditionally ‘eastern’ ekklesiology (which also includes the united church – east and west – up to the great schism) there was an ideal of a ‘balanced’ ekklesiology which aimed at unity and freedom achieved through relational love.

    A very good book to read to help open some ideas on this one would be John Zizioulas’s ‘Being as Communion’. He is a greek orthodox theologian who also understand the ‘western’ theological traditions.

    Now….it is my ‘theory’ that much of what is called the ’emerging church’ is actually a realisation of ‘eastern or relational ekklesiology’ from within the various erroneous aspects of ‘western’ ekklesiology.

    The more I read about the emerging church and the more I read about Eastern Orthodoxy (and the more I read my bible and the early church fathers) the more convinced I become of this fact!

    So – after an already over long post – my top recommend would be the above book.

    I note that all of the books the mentioned are essentially ‘western’ in theology and ekklesiology. Have a holiday and read some eastern theology – it will stretch your mind and do you good!!

    All my love in Christ,


  4. thanks everyone – some helpful suggestions – and from exactly the people I expected would reply to this post 🙂

    Richard – sounds interesting, although certainly not the normal type of stuff I would read. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

    Dave – thanks for the link – it looks like quite a thorough link. the beginnningwithmoses site is coming along nicely too – keep up the good work.

    Ger – Your dad’s book is another one I’ve got on my reading list.

    Anyway, there’s no way I’ll get round to reading all of these. I guess I’ll just end up reading the ones that turn up on sale first (a.k.a. following the ‘leading’ of the spirit)

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