An Introductory Reading List for Church Planting and Mission

October 19, 2015
An Introductory Reading List for Church Planting and Mission

I am a bibliophile.  There it is.  I said it, confessed it and now I can deal with my problem. I love books.  I love the way they smell.  I love holding and actually touching a physical book.  I even love reading them.  I am always on the lookout for a great new read and I get asked often for book recommendations as well.  On our ABSC website we have posted a couple of reading lists from some other bibliophiles.  There is an annotated Church Planting book reading list by Ed Stetzer which is great.  We have also posted a Missional Church reading list from my good friend Brad Brisco.  Both of these lists are linked below.

Ed Stetzer’s list:

Brad Brisco’s list:

Both of these lists are very helpful in painting a broad picture of the Missional Church and Church Planting in general.  Both of them are extensive with some great resources.  People often ask where to start when reading about Church Planting or the Missional Church, so I thought I would compile a short list of books that have been immensely helpful to me for various reasons.  These books are in no particular order.

  1. Ten most Common Mistakes made by New Church Starts by Jim Griffith and Bill Easum – A great list of things to think about before you plant.
  2. Church in the Making: What makes or breaks a new Church before it Starts by Ben Arment – a fantastic introduction to church planting that will help you think through the early stages.
  3. Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission by Larry McCrary, Caleb Crider, Wade Stephens, and Rodney Calfee – An intensely practical book looking at nine essential missionary practices that will really help a new church plant engage their community.
  4. The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the best Church for the Community by Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw – Looking for a book to either move your church outside the building or keep them outside the building, then this is a good one.
  5. The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships right outside your Door by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyan – The essential question of this book is “What if when Jesus said to love your neighbors as yourselves, he meant to start with your literal neighbors.?” A great book to help you think about your immediate neighborhood differently.
  6. Missional Essentials: A Guide for experiencing God’s Mission in your Life by Brad Brisco and Lance Ford – A fantastic twelve-week study to help your church understand the missionary nature of God and what it means to be a “sent” people.  They look at theology, principles and practices.  It’s not just more head knowledge, but great practical exercises as well to move people on mission.
  7. Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost – Any church planting or mission endeavor involves risk.  Hirsch and Frost do a great job at look at the theology behind risk-taking and acting courageously for the kingdom.
  8. The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay – A great book to help you think about the people in your community and how to be on mission where you live, work and play.  How can we make the good news of the kingdom tangible to those who need to see and know Jesus.
  9. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost – I don’t have enough words to say about this book.  This is one of those books that radically reshaped my thinking on how I live and serve in this world.  A must read.
  10. The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch – Like The Shaping of Things to Come, The Forgotten Ways is a must read.  Alan does an incredible job in moving beyond just church growth thinking to movement thinking.  What did the early church do to create a worldwide movement?  What are the essentials to seeing a kingdom movement today?  This is not a quick read, but it is a fantastic read.

There are countless other authors who have been very influential and helpful, but this list will hopefully be a helpful place to start.  May your libraries be full and your days be filled with the joy of reading.

David McClung is a Church Planting Strategist on the Church Planting team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.  He served on the Evangelism and Church Growth Team for 4 ½ years prior to joining the Church Planting Team and served churches in Arkansas and Texas before joining the ABSC.  He and his wife Christy live in Sherwood, AR. with their four children.