[click to enlarge]
This is my emerging church bookshelf at home in UK where 50+ emerging church books sit happily together, one shelf above my missiology books which undergird them both spatially and philosophically. I am missing a number of excellent books that i have given away (like “Mission-Shaped Church”) or are still in my library back in USA (McLaren’s excellent book “Church on the Other Side”) waiting for me to ship them over.
The top left corner are two historical books with the Emerging Church title – one published in 1970 and the other in 2003. The top right corner are my top picks – all well researched books that are worth purchasing. Conspicuously absent in this corner, and on my shelf, is “Emerging Churches”, by Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs. I have an early version as a draft PDF but, alas, and despite my glowing recommendation on the back cover, this book was never sent to me. But I do consider it one of my Top Five Emerging Church Books. Breaking the Missional Code, by Ed Stetzer and David Putnam, arrived today and did not make it into my picture. And if i find room for it on my shelf, I will also need to take Milfred Minatrea’s “Shaped by God’s Heart” off the missiology shelf and put it here. Dang – my image is out of date already . . .
Here are the Top Ten Books that I consider essential reading on the emerging church. I played a role in the first four books so naturally I trust them more. Links are to blog posts on the books:
1. Emerging Churches, Bloger and Gibbs (not pictured)
2. Shaping of Things to Come, Frost and Hirsch
3. Out of Bounds Church, Steve Taylor
4. In Search of Authentic Faith, Steve Rabey
5. The Emerging Church, Dan Kimball
6. The Complex Christ, Kester Brewin
7. Mission Shaped Church, some English guys
8. Church on the Other Side, Brian McLaren (not pictured)
9. Breaking the Missional Church (not pictured)
10. Houses That Change the World, Wolfgang Simson
Also absent are books of mine on other shelves like “The Emerging Church in Ephesians”, by John Carr, because they do not deal directly with the emerging church in our generation and books by emerging church authors on various subjects of spirituality, prayer and philosophy. i have other spaces for that. I did not consider buying D.A Carson’s book “Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church” nor Brian McLaren’s “Generous Orthodoxy” and i do not see them as essential or seminal as some critics claim, although there are many people who have benefitted from both of these books.
I am hoping that this image of my bookshelf will not miscommunicate the heart of emerging-missional church.
– Books are not where the emerging church is at. The best writings on the emerging church are online in PDF form, or as blog posts or blog comments, or Word attachments sent in emails. Some of it is not text based at all but captured in video, drawing, photos and especially in the transformed lives of new communities arising in the emerging culture.
– Without the missiology shelf beneath it, my emerging church shelf is a shallow illustration of the thinking behind it.
– Half of these books are from North America – displaying the power of the American publishing empire (a new kind of colonialism?) and contrasting the extreme self-confidence of the Americans to publish early. Countries like Germany and Brazil, having just as much to say, are more prone to postpone publishing until they have a fuller picture, a tested argument, and working models. One could get the idea that half the global emerging church is American and this is nowhere close to the truth.
– Most of the books are from the high end of emerging church which is connected to universities, philosophy, students, publishing, and church forms that are still various forms of traditional church. Very few of these books are from the “other” half – the emerging church of the margins, the poor, and the churches that no longer look like church. Emerging church leaders in the latter are less likely to publish a book as a means of communication.