Helpful Books on Missional Communities – Missional Philosophy

June 14, 2013 — 1 Comment

As you begin to explore the world of missional church and missional communities, you can encounter an overwhelming number of resources. I have spent a good deal of time reading through much of the literature available, and I thought it would be beneficial to provide some short commentary on many of the works available. I’ll cover a few different categories:

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Missional Philosophy

Missional philosophy books, in my opinion, spend more of their time working from a perspective of culture and ideas that the church must grapple with. It’s different from Missional Theology, in that the predominant focus is not necessarily on biblical exegesis, but biblical application.

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The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch

This book is a difficult read, but it is chock full of great ideas and thought-provoking insights. I love that Alan thoroughly interweaves several different disciplines and examples into this book, and provides a thoroughly comprehensive overview of the core components of movement. In particular, the ideas of Communitas, Apostolic Environments, and Organic Systems are very challenging for a pragmatic, linear thinker like myself.

Perhaps the most important part of what Alan does in this work is reimagine leadership and give permission and framework for some unique ways of thinking about the church.

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To Change the World by James Davison Hunter

I’m not sure this would ever be classified by anyone in the “missional” stream of thought, but I would contend that it absolutely ought to be. Hunter provides a thorough sociological understanding of how societal change actually takes place, critiques the predominant, inadequate forms of culture change in the church today, and then provides a compelling case for what he calls “Faithful Presence”. This book provides a healthy counterbalance to the ideas driving much of the movement literature today, and was helpful for me to think critically about equipping the saints in the church to make disciples and engage culture.

This book can be difficult reading as well, but it is well worth the effort for the insight that Hunter provides.

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Above All Earthly Pow’rs by David Wells

In this work, David Wells presents a compelling Christology in contrast to the consumeristic post-modernism pervasive in our culture and churches today. I commend this book both for its beautiful prose and the depth of insight into the gospel, the church, and the world we live in today. Perhaps the single largest contribution to my practice of ministry comes from his insight into consumerism, and the inability of the idea of seeker church to disciple away from it. Our churches must have a theological response to discipleship in a consumer culture, and a practical infrastructure that does not succumb to consumer tendencies.

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On the Verge by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson

I think I might have a man crush on Alan Hirsch, but it is because he is so darned thought provoking. On the Verge can be a tad cumbersome to read because it flips back and forth between Alan and Dave’s voices, but there is a really thorough understanding of organizational leadership and organization dynamics from a missional perspective within this book.

The particular grid that was most helpful was the concept of “Paradigm, Ethos, Practices”, which helped our team work through an understanding of our missional community roadmap.

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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