Books on church and mission

I was asked in a recent comment to suggest some books on church and mission. So here is a list. The book that has influenced my view of church more than any other is actually a short fictional account of what church was like in the apostolic period entitled Going to Church in the First Century. The author, Robert Banks, is a New Testament scholar so it has a good basis in history. But, by writing it in the form of a short story, it really comes alive.

The books marked with an astrix are good starting points.

* Banks, Robert and Julia, The Church Comes Home: Building Community and Mission Through Home Church (Hendrickson, 1998) – a revised edition of The Home Church: Regrouping the People of God for Community and Mission (Albatross/Lion, 1986) – a look at the theology and practice of home church.

* Banks, Robert, Going to Church in the First Century (Hexagon, 1985) – a suggestive description of a typical church gathering in apostolic times.

Banks, Robert, Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in their Historical Setting (Paternoster, 1980) – ground breaking study of the apostolic understanding of church with an eye to contemporary application.

Bartchy, Scott, ‘Table Fellowship,’ Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP, 1992), pp. 796-800 – looks at the meals of Jesus reinforced his teaching on service and grace.

Blue, Bradley, ‘Acts and the House Church’ in The Books of Acts in its First Century Setting: Volume 2 Graeco-Roman Setting, eds. Gill, David W. J. and Gempf, Conrad (Paternoster/Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 119-222 – an academic study of the history and sociology of New Testament house churches.

Chapman, John, Know and Tell the Gospel (Matthias Media, 2nd edition 1998) – an easy to read introduction to the theology and practice of evangelism.

Chester, Tim, Good News to the Poor: Social Involvement and the Gospel (IVP, 2004) – looks at the relationship between proclamation and social involvement in reaching the marginalised including the centrality of the Christian community and gospel-centred discipleship.

* Chester, Tim, and Steve Timmis, Total Church: Reshaping Christianity Around Gospel and Community (IVP, 2007) – a call to shape church around two principles: (1) the gospel as content, and (2) the community as context. (Title to be confirmed.)

Fahrer, Walfred J., Building on the Rock: A Biblical Vision of Being Church Together From an Anabaptist-Mennonite Perspective (Herald Press, 1995) – a simple guide to an Anabaptist view of church.

Kraybill, Donald, The Upside-Down Kingdom (Herald Press, 1990) – explores the implications of the ‘upside-down’ nature of the kingdom of church and ministry.

* Marshall, Colin, The Growth Group Manual (Matthias Media/The Good Book Co., 1995) – a practical training manual for leading and teaching small groups.

Murray, Stuart, Church Planting: Laying Foundations (Paternoster, 1998) – an important contribution that challenges a merely pragmatic approach and sets out to provide a theological framework for church planting.

* Newbigin, Lesslie, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (SPCK, 1989) – a insightful look at mission in our post-Christian context that emphasises the centrality of the local congregation in mission.

Norrington, David C., To Preach or Not to Preach: The Church’s Urgent Question (Paternoster, 1996) – a look at how we should teach one another with some good historical material on church.

O’Brien, Peter T., ‘The Church as a Heavenly and Eschatological Entity’, in Don Carson (ed.), The Church in the Bible and the World (Paternoster/WEF, 1987), pp. 88-119 – a good introduction to the doctrine of the church.

Osiek, Carolyn and David L. Balch, Families in the New Testament World: Households and House Churches (Westminster John Knox Press, 1997) – an academic sociological study of household and family, and how this affects New Testament models of church.

* Peterson, Jim, Living Proof (NavPress, 1989) – Peterson’s classic books on personal evangelism, Evangelism as a Lifestyle and Evangelism for Our Generation, combined and revised.

Shenk, David W. and Ervin R. Stutzman, Creating Communities of the Kingdom: New Testament Models of Church Planting (Herald Press, 1988) – attempts to work out the practice of church planting through reflection on passages of Scripture.

Snyder, Howard, The Radical Wesley and Patterns for Church Renewal (IVP, 1980) – an historical study of change within the church that draws lessons for today.

Stott, John, ‘Evangelism through the Local Church’, in Chris Wright and Chris Sugden (eds.), One Gospel – Many Clothes (EFAC/Regnum, 1990), pp. 13-28 – argues that church-based evangelism should be the norm for biblical and strategic reasons, and a commitment to the world should be reflected in church structures and practices.

Timmis, Stephen (editor), Multiplying Churches: Reaching Today’s Communities through Church Planting (Christian Focus, 2000) – covers the theology, history and key principles of church planting with case studies.
* The theology of church planting chapter can be found at

* Timmis, Stephen and Tim Chester, The Gospel-Centred Church (The Good Book Co., 2002) – looks at different aspects of church life in the light of a commitment to the gospel and gospel ministry.

Tomlin, Graham, The Provocative Church (SPCK 2002) – a call (from an Anglican perspective) for churches to be communities that provoke questions from society (excellent first chapter).