The 5 Books on Emerging Church You Need to Buy

So you want to get involved in the emerging church? Good. For those of you who dont do anything without reading a book [you know who you are], you may need to buy one or two books to get you moving. Here are the top five. My top five. The Canadians have been working on this list of top 5 books recommended by number of emerging church leaders for a long time and now . . .  finally . ..  its online. Aboot time . ..  I mean ABOUT time. Sorry. I love Canadians. Their maple syrup is almost as good as Scottish maple syrup, eh?

My 5  choices [bottom of the list – but the last shall be first] are these:

1. Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsch, for some missiological background.

2. Emerging Churches by Bolger and Gibbs for some good examples of what church might look like.

3. Out Of Bounds Church by Steve Taylor for a church planters view of the culture.

4. Church Planting Movements by David Garrison to understand church planting principles.

5. Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, by Michael Frost for the heartbeat of the church planter towards community transformation. I should be reviewing this book in November.

If i had to change that list, I would take out David Garrison’s book and tell you to download the free booklet instead. Here is the PDF  But do look out for his great book if you get the chance.

In its place, I recommend "Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire" by Brian J. Walsh, Sylvia C. Keesmaat. Dang good book that covers globalization, internet and lots more.

I really should be recommending Transforming Mission by David Bosch which is a monumental book and foundational to this whole conversation, but i am assuming you have read it already, or it is a little heavy going if you are new to missiology – in which case ‘Shaping of Things to Come’ might be more approachable and timely.

And I might also recommend Wolfgang Simson’s new book but it doesnt come out until November 10 – at which time i hope to start a discussion on the book.

Related:The Best Book on Emerging Church,

On Emergent Canada

TSK on books

The 50 Books on My Emerging Church Bookshelf

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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:

    good stuff!
    I agree..Transforming Mission is pivotal to the whole conversation although postcolonial works need to be read alongside it..also, a little Newbigin wouldnt hurt!
    Right on with Out of Bounds Church! I have found this one of the most helpful works in terms of how emerging churches engage culture..the imagery of DJ – brilliant!
    this might be a stretch as this list focuses more on the church planting side of it, but for those wanted to get started in the emerging conversation, McLaren’s “Generous Orthodoxy” is a must..the content is great but the key I think is to listen to the way he uses language in trying to avoiding closing binaries and creating space for encounter..

  • blind beggar says:

    Andrew: Great book list. Haven’t read “Church Planting Movements,” but the PDF certainly was good. In the middle of “Exiles” now, which is a very important work IMHO.

  • Cathryn Thomas says:

    i’m reading a really interesting one…..
    It’s by John Crowder….. “The New Mystics”
    Really THICK with rehma!!! There is an interesting chapter on Postmodern Prophets that is way worth the gander!!!!
    P.S. Phil and i arn’t in Austin…. we’re providing prayer cover from NC.(north carolina) Phil and I have “jobs” so where kinda stuck in the Tent making… but hey…LOL….. it provides some $$$ for this stuff to happen. I spoke with Amy C today…. i pressed in and asked the Lord for “a word” for each one that are there…. Dang dude… the Lord is so in Love with your wife!!!!!!! I was an honor to “seek” for her. shalom, to the deepest places. Love, Cathryn Thomas

  • Sivin says:

    Thanks for the pointers. I REALLY must check out Michael Frost’s latest.

  • revtc says:

    you also might find this resource helpful. i’ve only just started it, but a good friend in the usa pointed me to it. its called, constants in context – a theology of mission for today, by bevans and schroeder
    they say, ‘christian mission is both anchored in fidelity to the past and challenged to fidelity in the present. it must preserve, defend and proclaim the constants of the church’s traditions; at the same time it must respond creatively and boldly to the contexts in which it finds itself.’
    especially interesting are the 6 constants of mission they develop, according to the threefold typology of justo gonzalez and dorothy solle. i’m just working through this part at the moment, and am looking forward to the end section that looks at the development of ‘prophetic dialogue’.
    my mate says this book is the next big thing after bosch.
    thought you might be interested…

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  • linda says:

    any books forthcoming from you? 🙂

  • no one believes me but my book will come out next year on the global emerging church. its a very hard book to write and i am a little dysfunctional when it comes to writing books. a LOT actually.

  • Cathryn Thomas says:

    Big Phat Honkin AMEN to your book Andrew…. i will keep that one on the prayer list!!!!!!shalom, cat

  • i would add pete rollins book, “How (Not) To Speak Of God”. To me, this is the most important book on emerging church theology to date.

  • yes – i liked it also – a LOT. hope last month was a good experience for you – i read through some of the comments on the blog – great stuff.
    but my own bent and the focus of my ministry is training leaders for this new global emerging movement so i end up recommending books that are more strategic than theological
    if i had to do a list of theological and philosophical books for the emerging church, i would have a different list.

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