Here are some of the resources that have been most helpful to me through this journey of church planting and pastoring a missional congregation. These are in addition to some of the links to videos and webpages at the bottom of my blog. I started off primarily referencing books but I am also beginning to add podcasts and apps. I could list many more, but I’ve saved this space for those that earn the “most influential” award in my ministry thus far. Also note that I am comfortable finding value in resources even if they do not line up perfectly with my theology.
Note: I’ve provided links to Amazon.com for convenience. I am not receiving any benefit for this from Amazon.
Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry In Your City
by Timothy Keller
This is usually the first book that I recommend to those looking to plant a church. While Keller’s church has been very successful in planting other churches, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach to church planting or a “if you do it this way you will succeed.” It is rather a very thoughtful way of exploring how the Gospel and Culture intersect to take a particular form in a particular place and time.
Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church
by Reggie McNeal
The other books in this series, This Present Future and Missional Renaissance are also worth a read. However, this one put some “flesh” on it for me and inspired me to imagine what a missional church could look like. Very accessible and good for other church leaders to read together.
Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America
by Darrel Guder (ed.)
This book is not light reading, but definitely worth it for those who are interested in setting the idea of “missional church” in context of church history and theology. Even though “missional” is now a trendy word in church circles, that was not the case when this book was written. Guder’s more recent book, Called to Witness, has a series of talks that he has given on the missional church in recent years.
Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration of Vocational Holiness
by Eugene Peterson
There isn’t a book by Eugene Peterson that I wouldn’t recommend. His work has been a big influence on my life and ministry. However, this book and Five Smooth Stones seem to the be two that I return to again and again. This one, in particular, has challenged me to stay the course, and remain faithful, even in the midst of discouragement and failure, always keeping in mind God’s desire to bring people into the Kingdom.
Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism
by Timothy Keller
If you are someone that preaches on a regular basis, or even just once in awhile, then I highly recommend this book! I have always respected that fact that Tim Keller is not a “flashy” or “exciting” preacher, and yet his messages have always carried with them the transformative power of God’s Word, and have clearly impacted many people beyond those in his congregation in New York. Like the Center Church book that also makes this list, he does not try to reduce the preaching process to a formula that others can simply plug-in and repeat. Rather, he raises important questions about the purpose, process, and power of preaching and challenges other preachers to learn to allow the power of scripture to be the focus of the final product.
This is by far the most interesting and accessible exploration of the early church that I have read. While many of the traditions that the Church has built up over the past two millennia are important, it is good to be reminded of what things looked like when it all began. Jerry isn’t trying to make the argument that all we need to do is get back to being as 1st century church, but rather he reminds us of the elements that allowed the early church to survive and thrive in a hostile cultural environment. Of course, many of the practices of the early church are easily applicable today, and for those of us doing church planting it is helpful to take the time to consider the essentials of Christian community. I found myself simultaneously encouraged and challenged as I read through this book.
The Holy Post Podcast
by Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani
My brother turned me onto this podcast, and since then it has become a go-to listen for me every week. If you are looking for something that it critical and honest about movements in our culture and in the Church then this is a great resource. Add in the humor, and I find it to be as entertaining as it is engaging. You might also find the “With God Daily” devotions by Skye Jethani to be worth a look.
Pray As You Go
by Jesuit Ministries
This is an excellent way to incorporate some meditation on scripture into your life when you only have a few minutes. It follows a different lectionary than the “Revised Common Lectionary,” but it will still take you through a wide range of scripture throughout the year. The guided times of contemplation accompanied by beautiful sacred music make it a great resource to pair with headphones or a handsfree setup in your car. You can get it as an App for your smartphone.