10 Books on Missions Everyone Should Read

This book gives an excellent overview of the state of the world and the place Westerners’ missions efforts have in it. Solid. For a preview, check out the extended excerpt I posted on this site. By the way, this book is written by the same guy who wrote the most popular post on urbana.org of all time: 8 Ways to Know God’s Will.

Another one from which I’ve taken an extended excerpt, but please do pick up the whole book. There’s so much goodness that isn’t covered in the excerpt. I often remember Elmer’s advice on things to do now, before you get in a cross-cultural setting: practice suspending judgement, develop a tolerance for ambiguity, learn to think gray, and practice positive attribution.

Okay, true confession: I haven’t actually read this book. Yet. But I know it’s part of some excellent training in getting involved in God’s mission. I’m recommending it here on the strength of the Duane Elmer’s “Servanthood” book.

John Stott wrote this one, so how can it not be on the list? From the IVP website: “Some emphasize Christian mission as verbal proclamation and ‘saving souls.’ Others focus on global justice issues or relief and development work. Can we do both? In this classic book, John Stott shows that Christian mission must encompass both evangelism and social action.” On urbana.org, the topic is addressed well in Both: Evangelism and Justice Work and this post (which is from Andy Crouch’s phenomenal book about power: Playing God)

A fantastic entry point about how everyone is called to be a part of God’s mission. The phrase “missional Christian” should be redundant but, unfortunately, it’s not. Get a sneak peek at the book in this post.

 

Is missions a business? Then why do we approach it as such? Is there a better paradigm? This book poses some great questions to get you thinking about how you’ll be joining in with God’s mission. The future of missions is as yet unwritten. Reading this book will help us be better co-authors with God.

You mean, my way of understanding things isn’t the only way? I reference this book so much in conversation because it’s been fantastic for helping me understand Scripture so much better, but also, it helps me see how my approach to other cultures has blind spots. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the only book with more than one excerpt on urbana.org: Race and Ethnicity in the Bible and Remove Cultural Blinders in 3 Easy Steps.

How freeing it is to know our place in God’s mission! We are not in control, nor are we meant to be! God's mission is God's and we are invited to join in. Once we understand our place, we are free to join in rightly (and joyfully). A related post on urbana.org: Earning God’s Love

Sexual identity—and how our understanding of sexual identity affects our relationships—can be an excellent place to begin developing a healthy missional mindset, whether or not God’s role for you in his global mission has anything to do with sexual identity. See also: Redeeming Sex.

Similarly, not everyone’s missional journey will involve Muslims. Nevertheless, this book is an excellent resource for all in coming to understand our world and Muslims in particular. Even if you don’t end up working specifically with Muslims in a missions context, you need to read at least chapter 4, “Two World Wars and a New Reality.”

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list. For example, if you want books specifically on Islam and missions to Muslims, here’s a whole list of good ones.

Also, this list doesn’t even mention all the fantastic biographies and autobiographies out there. If you haven’t yet read Elisabeth Elliot’s Through Gates of Splendor, you’re missing out. I was moved to tears several times and encouraged deeply in my own walk with God through this recounting of the lives and deaths of five men who were part of an effort to begin missions work among the Huaorani. Elisabeth Elliot, by the way, shared some of her story (she was married to one of the men) at Urbana 96.

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Great list! I'll just add that InterVarsity Press, alongside with other Christian publishing houses, publishes excellent books on mission from a more academic perspective. For instance, I just finished, and enjoyed, Introducing Christian Mission by Michael Goheen.

As missionary always looking for good reads I just couldn't leave this list without commenting... Some of the books listed here made me cringe... They seem to be more about liberal progressive views tht are being attempted to be marketed and sold as Christianity but strive deeply away from basic orthodox Christian doctrine...

I like your list and have read many of these. I would like to suggest an addition. Last year I had the privilege to edit Forged on the Field. This unique book draws together the collective wisdom and experience of more than 72 mission team leaders from around the world. There is an old saying that no one of us is as smart as all of us. I firmly believe this. As I have listened to mission practioners over the last 20 years, I kept thinking that it would be great to capture their thoughts and share them. There is SO much wisdom being acquired, but so often it informs our personal lives and ministry but is not collected and shared, and so is ultimately lost. This unique book attempts to address this problem, and does so by drawing on an international assortment of leaders from nearly 20 different countries. We need to hear the voices of practitioners not just theorists.

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