Recommended reading for the structure committee

The Episcopal Church has a new committee charged with re-designing the church’s structure. Many other American denominations are making or have made similar moves lately, part of a push towards a more “missional” focus for the church. While I have some concern that the Episcopal committee is, at 24 members, too large as to be unwieldy, I look forward to hearing their recommendations in a few years time.

Since it’ll likely be a little while until they meet formally, they have some time do some holiday reading. Here’s a preliminary list of books I hope the committee members are familiar with:

  • Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? First published in 1912, this book from an Anglican missionary in China upended missionary orthodoxies of the day and remains as relevant and enduring a challenge to the church of our time as it was to his. (I wrote more about Allen’s relevance a while back.)
  • Vincent Donovan, Christianity RediscoveredDonovan was a Catholic missionary among the Maasai and his book represents an attempt—half a century later—to put Allen’s teaching into practice. It’s an incredible reflection that forces the reader to think seriously about what the core of the church is, what the message is that the church has to offer, and how all of that works out in messy, real-world ways.
  • David Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Just re-issued for its 20-year anniversary, this is the single best book I ever read in seminary. David Bosch, a South African who was killed shortly after this was published, takes the reader through the Biblical basis for mission and the history of different mission paradigms, before laying out a multi-part understanding of what the mission is to which the church is called. Incredible reading.
  • Christopher Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Wright takes the reader through the whole sweep of the Bible, demonstrating how mission is the key theme of the writings that form the ground for our faith. It’s another thick book, but it’s also one will make you look at the Bible in a new way and, if nothing else, give you great material for your next Bible study or sermon.
  • One I haven’t been able to read—but would like to—is Life-Widening Mission: Global Anglican Perspectives, a series of essays from young Anglicans around the world.

What would you recommend? These are all books about mission, in one way or another. Any suggestions for books about organizational change, management theory, etc.? Leave suggestions in the comments.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good read!

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