The 50 Books on My Emerging Church Bookshelf

Tskemergingchurchbookshelf

[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.

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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 Dang – my image is out of date already .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.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

17 Comments

  • Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for the comment on my Church 2.0 stuff.
    One other author that I’ve never heard any emerging church voice mention, but that I’ve found to have a lot of relevance to missional/emerging church is Elton Trueblood. His books “The Company of the Committed” and “The Incendiary Fellowship” were remarkably prophetic and ahead of their time, as they were written in the 1950s I believe. Most people wrote him off as crazy, but a lot of the ideas in those books are finding expression in the missional/emerging church.

  • Andrew, here I thought I was on the right reading track for the M.Div. Emerging Church degree, and you show me that I only have 5 out of your 50.
    Good thing 3 are in your top ten. Have you read Organic Church by Neil Cole?
    (I’m going to use your idea and post my top shelf, but I also have LibraryThing thanks to a certain hurricane that severely reduced my former library.)

  • Andrew, i would have to personally put pete rollins book, “How (Not) To Speak of God” on my top 10.
    Joe, I have read Cole’s “Organic Church” and found much of it from a modern, evangelical POV. It did have a few nuggets, though.

  • EP – Pete has a fantastic book but it leans towards the philosophical/phenomenological rather than the ecclesiastic but it would be one of my top choices if i had a “emerging church thinking bookshelf”.
    although he does give some practical examples in the back of the book . . . hmmmm . ..

  • Andrew,
    I hope you will not give up the blog. Do post less if that will work better for you time-wise. Your last section (under “I hope that this image of my bookshelf…) is exactly why your voice/presence is needed in the blogosphere.
    God bless you & family-
    Dana

  • a tall skinny book shelf

    Link This is the 50 books on Andrew Jones emerging church bookshelf. He rates the Out of Bounds Church no 3 in his “Top Ten Books considered essential reading on the emerging church.” Andrew then wonders aloud about whether…

  • Andrew,
    I was kinda suprised to not see anything by Clarence Jordan on your top 50. Jordan writes in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. But when I think about Southern Evangelicals, seeking to live lives in community, that contextualize the gospel to a specific context, and that emphasise justice, story, etc. I find Jordan absolutly prophetic. Would you even consider putting Parables of Liberation or The Sermon on the Mount on your list?

  • thanks Nate
    i dont have any of Jordon’s books.
    i do have lots of books on church in the culture of those decades but no room for them on my shelf.
    but “The Emerging Church” is there because of its name
    In USA I collected a good number of Jesus Revolution books adn i am very fond of them.

  • Andrew — I never knew you didn’t have it — I requested it to be sent to your from the publisher ages ago. Could you email me your address and I will get one to you?
    Any chance you coming down for ‘blah’?
    Ryan

  • You write “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. ” Brilliant insight! This is one of my pet-peeves here in the Balkans. What is communicated is that, it must be good if it comes from NA and , frankly, the publishers in NA are not helping the message of the Kingdom spread authentically if it continues to be packaged according to the best and brightest from NA.
    [name deleted upon request]

  • Good you’ll get your missing book. I’m pleased
    Keep blogging we need to read what you write … including recommended reading – but not limited to that.

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