The Personal M.Div

Jordon knows that books and essays are not enough to train anyone for ministry – emerging or otherwise – but a list of the top 40 books and 20 essays would have been an interesting exercise. His list is under The Personal M.Div.

If I could only recommend 5 books from Jordon’s list, they would be:

– Frost and Hirsch, The Shaping of Things to Come

– Guder et al, Missional Church

– Simson, Houses That Change the World

– Bosch, David J. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts In Theology of Mission

– Newbigin, Leslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

For a specialist emergent track, I would suggest Out of Bounds Church (Steve Taylor) and The Complex Christ (Kester Brewin) and if you could only buy one Brian McLaren book – “The Church on the Other Side” would be the book to buy. However, the bias toward western thinking is still very biased and a few books from Africans, Asians or Latins might be needed. I find the book “Global Missiology for the 21st Century” (William Taylor, ed) is highly useful for its non-western contributions.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Mark says:

    I guess my wish-list is going to grow sooooo much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • john says:

    Thanks for this list. I’ve read most of those but not all. With so many good books out there, it is nice to know peoples opinion of the best of the best.

  • Thanks for the link. For me the list has been fun as it showed me how many excellent books there are out there. The hard part will be editing down the almost 150 books into a list of 40.

  • john says:

    I should clarify…I’ve read most of the 7-8 books you’ve mentioned here, not the 150 books on Coop’s blog. (I didn’t want to come off sounding like a know-it-all, or even a know-it-some!)

  • bob says:

    Sad to me that there are so few women and so few non-Anglos on the list.
    What about a project to reach out, rather than narrow in on the usual suspects ?

  • natala says:

    thanks for the suggestions… i see an amazon order in my future ๐Ÿ™‚

  • alan hirsch says:

    Hey TSK, you know how to compliment a guy! To be named in such company (!!) Its actually very humbling. Thanks for the thumbs up. Gerard Kelly’s Retrofuture is a good look at the church from a distinctly futurist angle.

  • The Personal M.Div

    John Cooper has been blogging on what books heโ€™d recommend for a Personal MDiv. The list struck me as somewhat insular so I jotted a few notes in the comments section in response. My basics concern is that Emerging Church

  • The Personal M.Div

    John Cooper has been blogging on what books heโ€™d recommend for a Personal MDiv. The list struck me as somewhat insular so I jotted a few notes in the comments section in response. My basics concern is that Emerging Church

  • andrew says:

    thanks alan
    Gerard showed me his book when it had a different name and i made some suggestions for the American version (more Bible, for example)
    Its a good book and some of his predictions are reality today.
    Speaking of good books, I was re-reading “Being Given” by Jean Luc MArion in the bathtub this morning – absolutely excellent book marking a shift from philosophy to a phenomenology informed and critiqued by theology. His idea of giveness is crucial to understanding emerging church, and yet it is a difficult read and i would not recommend the faint of heart go out and buy it.
    Maybe in a few years there will be some lighter versions that be easy reading and make it to the list.

  • alan hirsch says:

    Andrew. I seriously think it is time you put your hand to producing ‘the’ book on missional church. You have a fantastic turn of phrase, are on top of the meterial, and are in touch with what is happening from a global perspective. C’mon mate. Get to it!

  • Andew,
    I’ve been complimentary on lots of stuff the emerging people are saying but this list, although it has some clear “winners,” disappoints. First, it is so weak on Bible (nothing serious about Jesus or NT theology — esp if you take the top 40). Second, it mixes some strong books with some very weak books without discrimination.
    I’ll be doing some blogs over at my site on Top Ten Books in various categories in the days ahead.

  • Permit me to deconstruct “Personal M.Div.”.
    There is no such thing as a “personal” degree, esp for emerging folks. It smacks of rank invidividualism.
    Second, why choose “M.Div” for one’s pedigree? Isn’t the MDiv one of the major problems for emerging people? Doesn’t it represent everything the modernist Church stood for in its pedigree-labeling of people? with its form of institutionalizing pastoral preparation? of focusing on “theory” instead of praxis? in its “isolate so you can educate” vs. its “situate in order to educate”?
    MDiv degrees divide the pastoral practice into separable categories: OT, NT, Systematics, Church history, and pragmatics: preaching, evangelism, etc.. Isn’t this separating contrary to everything the emerging movement believes?
    I apologize if this sounds negative. I taught in a seminary for eleven years, and I have been hearing for plenty of years the weaknesses of how seminaries operate and how they are separate from actual gospel ministry.
    With the emphasis in emerging on “local,” on “community,” and on “culture,” what we really need is not “another MDiv approach” but instead a genuine alternative.

  • Scott, a couple of thoughts. It’s a fun exercise. A couple of months ago Seth Godin had an article about how some Harvard MBA students were tossed out of their Harvard MBA program for what they called hacking their admittance program. He talked about a MBA being a waste of time and some people wondered what forty books would make a personal MBA. We started talking on Resonate about it and started wondering what were the forty books that would make up an essential M.Div reading list if you were not going to have a M.Div. A lot of pastors I know can’t afford one and don’t have a seminary close to them and thought it was a useful exercise.
    The list does not rank the books yet and is just a place for people to submit their most important books. We are planning to edit them later. Of course it is biased and incomplete. Most lists like this are but it does show the bias that the readers to my site and Resonate have.


    I’ve been slowly stewing an idea in my brain for a few days now, and I finally decided to act on it. I noticed the creation of with interest, but didn’t think much about it until I saw that Jordon Cooper was inspired to create a compara…

  • Frank Doiron says:

    Recently read Shaping of things to come and found it to be one of the most exciting books I have read in the last 10 years. Especially the chapter “Action as sacrament” Much of what you wrote reminded me of the “Church of the Saviour in Washington DC….. How a missional church emerged from the giftings and vision of the people there

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