Suggested Reading about Christian Missions

March 06 1998 / Version 5.2

I don't necessarily endorse the views expressed in these books, but I believe the reader will find them useful in reaching a fuller understanding of the worldwide mission of the church.  Books which are particularly good introductions are marked with the "*" symbol, and books which are "must have" for those deeply committed to missions are marked with the "!" symbol. Please contribute addition book summaries, corrections, or critiques.

Introduction to Missions

Borthwich, Paul.  Six Dangerous Questions. IVP 1996.  Calls people to answer some basic questions and then live out their answers.  Not a "traditional" missions book, but a great starting place for people who don't have any interest in missions, yet are serious about following the Lord. It has been suggested that this is one of the best books to introduce Generation-X to missions. Asks the following questions: Who is Jesus?  Do I believe in Heaven? Do I believe in Hell? Does Christianity matter? Do I believe God wants to use my life? Whose agenda will I live by? I liked this book, but thought that the writing wasn't as engaging as it could have been.

Borthwick, Paul. How to be a World Class Christian. Baker, 1991. A call to choose a life which counts for the Lord in every area of life.

* Duewel, Wesley L.  Touch the World Through Prayer. Zondervan, 1986. This book was clearly written by a man who has a vital and powerful prayer life.  The book is filled with Biblical references and will expand your vision for prayer. By the end of this book you will be convinced that you can touch the world through prayer.

Kane, J Herbert. Wanted: World Christians. Baker, 1986. This is a great second or third book to read on the topic of becoming a world Christian. It is filled with useful and challenging information.

Lum, Ada. A Hitchhiker's Guide to Missions.   IVP, 1984. This book talks most about preparing yourself for ministry by serving at home, disciplining people, dealing with people across cultures, and working with others. Overall, just a fair book, but the section on working with others was very good.

!* Richardson, Don.   Eternity in Their Hearts.  Regal, 1981. 233 pp. This is a mind-blowing book about how God has revealed Himself to many peoples in the world. This book suggests that a careful cultural study should be done because you will be able to discover culturally relevant ways in which God has prepared to communicate the gospel clearly to these people.  This is a very encouraging book.  If you haven't heard of redemptive analogies, you will be surprised and challenged to think about missions in a new light.

* Stearn, Bill and Stearn, Amy. Catch the Vision 2000. Bethany, 1991. "Something big and challenging is happening in our world. Something God wants every Christian to be involved in," say the authors, who put together a remarkable book  that  weaves biblical, historical, and contemporary stories about God's heart to see the world reached.

* Stearn, Bill and Stearn, Amy and Sjogren, Bob. Run with a Vision. Bethany, 1995. 288 pp. World maps are being redrawn. Governments are changing. Overwhelmed by a world of fresh possibilities, people around the globe are spiritually hungry perhaps as never before. Each new day brings unprecendented opportunities for reaching every people group with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This book outlines the remarkable breakthroughs taking place in our world, identifies the doors opening to the gospel, and shows how churches can become active, mobilizing, missionary-sending congregations without abandoning local concerns. The style is engaging, but a bit jarring, much like the chaotic world we live in.  This is a great second book to read. 

* Wagner, C Peter.   On The Crest of the Wave.    Regal, 1983.  This book gives a good framework to understand modern missions.  It is divided into easily studied chapter, each with notes for further research of the topic addressed. It gives an introductory feel of what the mission community is like. This is the first book I would give to someone who is interested in missions but uninformed about what is going on.

Theology of Missions

! Allen, Roland.   Missionary Methods: St Paul's Or Ours?. Eerdmans, 1962. 179 pp. Profoundly biblical, Allen's "Methods" are drawn from a scrupulous examination of St. Paul's own principles for missionary work. The strategy of the apostolic methods--with its unwavering belief and trust in the Holy Spirit indwelling converts and the churches of which they are members is the source of Allan’s emphasis on raising up indigenous leaders and permitting the church to grown "naturally".

Boer, Harry.   Pentecost and Missions.    Eerdmans, 1961, 270pp. An excellent exegetical and historical study showing that the real motive behind the outreach of the apostolic church was the experience of Pentecost.

Conn, Harvie.   Eternal Word and Changing Worlds. Academic (Zondervan), 1984. This is a very scholarly book. This book dialogs between theology, anthropology, and missions. I suggest reading this book armed with a very good dictionary.

Dyrness, William A.   Let the Earth Rejoice!    CB, 1983. Examines missions from a holistic approach showing the unity of God's concern in both the Old and the New Testament.

Glasser and McGavran.   Contemporary Theologies of Missions. Baker, 1982. An analysis of four of the modern mission methodologies: evangelical, Catholic, conciliar, and liberation. These modern approaches are contrasted to classical missiology.

McQuikin, Robert.  The Great Omission. Baker, 1984.

! Peters, George.   A Biblical Theology of Missions.   Moody, 1972, 368pp. A thoroughly exegetical and theological study covering the Biblical foundation of missions, the Biblical delineation of missions, and the Biblical instruments and dynamics of missions. The only complete theology of missions by a conservative evangelical scholar in our generation. This is just plain excellent!

!* Piper, John.  Let the Nations be Glad.  Baker, 1993. 240 pp.  Here is a plea for the church to catch a God-centered vision for engaging in world evangelization. Piper shows that worship is the ultimate goal of the church, and that proper worship fuels missions. This book will help students of mission reflect on the relationship between church and mission and on the role of every Christian in going out to all the world.

Current Issues

Adeney, Miriam.   God's Foreign Policy.   Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. This is a very practical book that examines how a missionary can impacted the poor. Areas that are examined include: health care, agriculture, business, political, all with very helpful suggestions.

Conn, Harvie.   A Clarified Vision for Urban Mission.    Zonderzan, 1987.

! Hesselgrave, David.   Today's Choices For Tomorrow's Mission.   Academic, 1988. This is an excellent book detailing trends that are developing in the mission community.

Jansen, Frank Kaleb.   Target Earth.   GMI, 1989. A wonderful book published by the Global Mapping Project.  This book is filled with useful graphs and charts which communicate the remaining task of world evangelism more clearly than mere words can.

Wilson, J Christy Jr. Today's Tentmakers.    Tyndale, 1979. Contains an argument for the use of tent-making as a way to reach people. Points out past historical successes, and has some practical tips for successful tent-making.

Wilson, Sam and Aeschliman, Gordon.    The Hidden Half. MARC, 1988. A call to identify the people groups that have been obscured from sight, and the to make a serious effort to target and reach these peoples.

! Winter, Ralph.   Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.   William Carey, 1981,    800pp. A reader for the course of the same title. The text is divided into 4 sections: Biblical, Historical, Cultural, and Strategic Although massive, this book is somewhat shallow because the articles are only 5-10 pages long, which is just not long enough to address the depth some issues need.

Mission Strategies

Barrett, David and Reapsome, James W.    Seven Hundred Plans to Evangelize the World.   Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1988. Lists 700 plans to reach the whole world with the gospel. Then asks the important question "What will it take to finish the job, to get the gospel to every people group on earth."

Barrett, David B.   World Class Cities & World Evangelism.  Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1986. Traces the move in the last 150 years from a rural to a cosmopolitan society.  Then looks at the benefits and challenges of reaching world class city. Suggests 21 points to be considered.

Bavinck, J H.  An Introduction to the Science of Missions.  Baker, 1960. 323pp.  A scholarly introduction to the theory biblical mandate, and history of missions.

! Caleb Project Staff.  Exploring the Land. Caleb, 1995.

Camp, Bruce.  Global Access Planner. ACMC, 1996.

! Dayton, Edward R.   That Everyone May Hear.   MARC, 1983. A small reference that is intended as a study aid in planning to reach the unreached.  This book is divided into 3 sections, one: seeing the world as people groups, two: steps towards evangelization, and three: planning strategies.

Dayton, Ed and Fraser, Ed.   Planning Strategies For World Evangelization.   MARC, 1980. Intended to help a church plan it's involvement in world evangelism. Dayton suggests a ten step model for effective mobilization including, defining the mission, picking a people, analyzing strategy, acting, and evaluating. The methods suggested us contemporary management techniques to help define the tasks.

Myers, Bryant.  The New Context of World Mission. MARC, 1996.

Yamamori, Tetsunao.  Penetrating Missions' Final Frontiers.  IVP, 1993.

Church Planting

Allen, Roland.   The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church.  Eerdmans, 1962. Allen makes the point that we should allow God to plant the Church. Structuring a new church 'our way' will destroy what we are trying to build. To quote Allen, "If we seek for the cause which produces rapid expansion when a new faith seizes hold of men who feel able and free to propagate it spontaneously of their own initiative, we find its roots in a natural instinct."

! Brock, Charles.   Indigenous Church Planting.   Broadman, 1981. A very practical book that talks about the nuts & bolts of Church planting.  Brock's has the keen insight that theology will have a direct effect on methodology. Brock starts with basic theological facts and builds a model methodology from his experience. Note: although the methodology described in this book worked well for Brock, his methodology is unlikely to work in more developed areas or in locations where there is strong apposition to the Gospel.

Faircloth, Samuel D.   Church Planting for Reproduction.   Baker, 1991. A very practice book by a man with a lot of practice experience planting churches.  There is an emphasis on using strategy that can be evaluated.  The life cycle of a successful reproducing church is examined as well as various issues such as administration and financing.

Hodges, Melvin.   The Indigenous Church.   Gospel Publishing House, 1976. A good handbook dealing with the issue of what defines an indigenous church, identifying what will allow an indigenous church to spring into life, and what will stop one from starting.

Church Growth and Structures

Anderson, Leith.    Dying for Change.     Bethany, 1990.    us look at how our culture has changed, but the church has not. A call for the church to reexamine its structures and techniques in view of the modern culture we are trying to reach.

Cho, Paul.    Successful Home Cell Groups.   Logos, 1981. Cho's church is the largest in the world.  This book describes his strategy of using house churches to reach people and meet their need.

Eller, Vernard.   Outward Bound.   Eerdmans, 1980. This is a good example of Seek Theology. Eller is one of the chief opponents of the church growth movement. He believes that the church growth movement is more interested in numeric growth than in serving the Lord. This book contains a number of issues that Eller thinks the CGM is in error. The primary focus of Eller's book is on holy living. Eller proudly states: "We are a small group (membership of fewer than 100 and dwindling), but we have worked hard at implementing many of the ideals found in the pages to follow". The primary thesis of this book is that when a Church is faithfully representing God, it will not grow quickly (if at all).

McGavran, Donald.   Understanding Church Growth.    Eerdmans, 1980. This book presents the basic principles of the Church growth movement. McGavran's book has provoked a great deal of debate, but is filled with wisdom and insight.

! Peters, George.   A Theology of Church Growth.   Zondervan, 1981. Peters gives the theological basic for Church growth theology. This is an excellent book that focuses on Acts, but dialogs with the rest of the NT, sociology and anthropology.

Reeves, R Daniel and Jenson, Ronald.    Always Advancing: Modern Strategies for Church Growth.   Here's Life, 1984. This is a basic reader on the topic of Church growth. It is a wonderful survey listing and explaining the current theories of church growth. This book has a very good bibliography.

Missionary Life and Work

! Barnett, Betty.  Friend Raising. YWAM, 1991 178 pp.   Dr. Carl Armerding says this book "brings together God's plan for Biblical missions support, with principles proven in the field, a strong dose of common sense, mixed with that rare spice, respect for the donor, and liberally garnished with the conviction that God supplies needs through mutually satisfying relationships. Betty Barnett presents a refreshing Biblical alternative." Not only practical, but also scriptural.

Collins, Marjorie A.   Manual for Today's Missionary.  WC, 1986.

Kane, J Herbert.   The Making of a Missionary.    Baker, 1975. This introduction to this book is wonderful. Various myths about missions & missionaries are exposed and corrected with the truth. The second section lists qualifications needed for a missionary, and major hang-ups that might stop someone from entering the mission field. The book closes with a quick look at the current status of world missions.

Kane, J Herbert.   Life and Work on the Mission Field. Baker, 1980. This is a massive work. This is a good book to get an understanding of what you will face on the mission field. It doesn't project a rose color picture life many books. From the beginning this book goes through many of the situations a missionary will face, and lists possible solutions. Has a very good bibliography.

O'Donell, Kelly and O'Donnel, Michelle.    Helping Missionaries Grow.   William Carey, 1988.

!* Pirdo, Neil.  Serving as Senders. Emmaus Road, 1991.   207pp.  A great book for practical suggests about how to send and support missionaries. Each chapter starts with a story that illustrates the issues contained in the chapter.   This is a "must buy" book for anyone going to the field, or building a sending team.

Pirdo, Neil.  Building Your Support Team. Emmaus Road, 1991. The seven sessions of this series correspond with the chapters in the book, Serving as Senders. While the book addresses the senders and how they can care for a cross-cultural worker, the tapes talk to the goer, teaching him how to develop the relationships necessary to foster a caring support team.  The book and the audio tapes work together to give the missionary-in-training a full perspective in this critical area of preparation. Tape set includes one copy of Serving as Senders.

Mission History & Biography

Adeney, David.   China: The Church's Long March. OMF/Regal, 1985. This book contains a very good analysis of the current state and trends found in the People's Republic of China.

Anderson, Carol Lee . Do You Know What You Are Doing, Lord? Chosen Books, 1998.  Tells the real story of a woman's experience in the work of Bible Translation. Honest, open, humorous, moving, inspiring.

Armitage, Carolyn.  Reaching for the Goal. Shaw, 1993.  The story of David Adeney's life.

Covell, Ralph.  The Liberating Gospel in China. Baker, 1995. 318 pp.  The Liberating Gospel in China presents missiological case studies of eleven minority peoples who share a single land mass and their varied responses to the gospel. No comparable study of these ethnic groups is available. Eminent missiologist Ralph R. Covell provides little-known information about Protestand and Roman Catholic attempts to reach Chinas minority cultures. The missiological principles illustrated make the book valuable for understanding East Asian Christian history and the nature of cross-cultural evangelism in general.

Dick, Lois Hoadley.   Amy Carmichael: Let the Little Children Come.   Moody, 1984.

Elliot, Elisabeth.   Shadow of the Almighty. Harper&Row, 1958. This book contains portions of Jim Elliot's diary and journal that has been edited by his wife.  Jim Elliot was martyred in 1956 along with a number of other men.  Elisabeth and the wives of the other men continued the work and won the tribe to the gospel.

Grubb, Norman. C.T. Studd.    CLC, 1974. Studd was the son of wealth in Great Britain in the late 1800's. When to China as part of the famous Cambridge Seven students and eventually went to Africa.

Hefley and Hefley.   Uncle Cam. Wycliffe, 1984. This is the story of Willian Cameron Townsend, the started of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. The book demonstrates how modern missions can cooperate with governments, without compromising the gospel.

Howard, David.   Student Power in World Evangelism. IVP, 1979. Presents the Biblical perspective on mission, showing how God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit and the Church all relate to world evangelism. Then demonstrates how students have contributed to world outreach in the past and how they can relate today to missions.

Howard, David.   Moving Out.    IVP, 1984. This is a short history about the initiative of students in World Missions.

Kane, J. Herbert.   A Global View of Christian Mission .    Baker, 1971. This books is one of the standard text on mission history. The first part traces the history of the mission movement since 1800. The second section surveys Christian missions in various areas. This book has a good bibliography.

Kane, J. Herbert.   A Concise History of the Christian World Mission.   Baker, 1982. This is a summary of the material found in A Global View... I found this book somewhat dry.

Kuhn, Isobel.  Green Leaf in Drought Time. Moody, 1957. The story of Arthur Mathews, the CIM missionary to leave China in 1953.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott.  A History of the Expansion of Christianity.  Zondervan, 1970, 7 volumes.   The most detailed history of the church available today.

* Lawrence, Carl.   The Church in China.  Bethany House, 1985. This is a very challenging book detailing the suffering, persecution, and success of the church in China over the last 40 years.  This is a very motivating book.

* Lees, Bill and Lees, Shirley.    Is It Sacrifice?.   IVP/OMF/STL, 1987. A very excellent book told with good balance.  Details both the victories and the struggles of the Lees.  Each chapter ends with simulating questions to bring the principle illustrated into everyday life.

Mussey, Kundan L. Tide of the Supernatural.  Here's Life, 1980. A call to prayer and action to reach the difficult to reach Muslim world. The author is firmly convinced that only God's power unleashed throughout fervent prayer will reach the Muslim world.

Neill, Stephen.  A History Of Christian Missions. Penguin, 1986.   528 pp. This book traces the expansion of Christianity from its origins in the Middle East to Rome, the rest of Europe and the colonies, and assesses its position as a major religious force worldwide, concluding with an evaluation of the formal Ecumenical Movement in the current period.

!* Olson, Bruce. Bruchko. Creation House, 1993. 202 pp. An astonishing story of a 19 year old youth's capture by stone age Indians and his adventures leading the Motilone tribe to Christ. A real challenge to anyone's faith, a story that tells of how power God can work.

Richardson, Don. Peace Child. Regal, 1974. An account of Richardson's ministry among the stone age tribe of New Guinea. A remarkable tale of how the gospel was brought to a people to whom betrayal was held in high esteem.

Richardson, Don.  Lords Of The Earth. Regal Books/Gospel Light, 1977.   368 pp.  A true story almost too powerful to stomach at times. This book tells of a missionary who took his family to Irian Jaya to reach the fearless Yali tribesmen with the gospel and how God used a key element in their own culture to transform an apparently hopeless situation into an incredible breakthrough to an unreached tribe.

Rose, Darlene Deibler. Evidence Not Seen. This book is about a woman from the United States who goes as a missionary with her new husband to venture New Guinea.  They are stuck there as WW2 hits and they find themselves on war ground with the Japanese. It is a very powerful testimony of God's amazing faithfulness to us even in the midst of incredible hardship and trials.

Roseveare, Helen.  He Gave Us a Valley. IVP, 1982. Roseveare found herself in the midst of the Congo civil war in the 1960s.  Recounts her joys and frustrations while establishing a medical center.

Shetler, Joanne. And The Word Came With Power! Multnomah Press, 1992.  The dramatic story of how God set in motion events that brought Jo Shetler of Wycliffe Bible Translators together with the Balangao people, proud headhunters who lived in the magnificent rice terraces of the Philippines. She joined them in a spiritual battle that changed them both forever.

* Dr. Howard Taylor and Mrs. Howard Taylor. Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret. Moody/OMF, 1965. A very challenging book about how Hudson Taylor placed complete trust in the Lord to provide for all his needs.

!* Tucker, Ruth.  From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.   Zondervan (Academic), 1983. 512pp.  Rather that surveying stages of Christian expansion this book presents ninety-nine key men and women who have led the way in missions across the last 2000 years. This book highlights what unique contributions (methods, strategies, theology, and mistakes)  where made by the profiled leaders.

Wilson, J Christy.  More to be Desired Than Gold.  Gordon-Conwell, 1996.  179 pp.  Billy Graham writes of this book, "Countless successful preachers of the Gospel have used illustrations to help listeners better understand and come to experience God's presence in their everyday lives. These stories serve to illustrate that the real-life experiences of Christians both at home and abroad are stranger than fiction. Not only do we value the marvelous things the Bible says, but I think you will enjoy reading here in this book about the amazing things that the Living God does."

Winter, Ralph.   The Twenty-five Unbelievable Years.  William Carey, 1970. In need of updating, this book nevertheless offers an exciting and valuable account of missions and mission-related events in a momentous period on modern missions.

Anthropology and Culture

Stacey Bieler and Dick Andrews.    China At Your Doorstep. IVP, 1987.

! Hiebert, Paul.  Cultural Anthropology. Baker Book House, 1983. 476 pp.  No other text introduces so fascinating a subject so essential to understanding practically everything with the Christian insight and the background of field knowledge Hiebert so skillfully commands. This is the best on a crucial subject.

! Thom Hopler and Marcia Hopler.    Reaching the World Next Door.   IVP, 1993.   ok was originally published under the title A World of Difference. Hopler starts by taking you on a walk through the OT & NT as God's people cross cultures to share the message of God's glory and love. He then goes on to apply this to today's culture. This is one of the clearest books I have read that effectively communicates how communication works within a culture, i.e. McGavern's people groups, and how people can be bridges into a sub-culture.

! * Lau, Lawson. The World at Your Doorstep.   IVP, 1984. A good introduction to issues that you will face in trying to reach cross-culturally to an international student. This book calls people to become more involved in loving international students while they are here in the US.

! Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers. Ministering Cross Culturally. Baker, 1988.

McGavran, Donald.   The Bridges of God.   Friendship Press, 1955. The classic book which first purposed reaching people through culturally homogenous units to minimize the barriers between people and the gospel. McGavran traces a number of people movements and calls for us to me more aware of cultural factors as we engage is missions.

Niebuhr, H Richard.  Christ and Culture.  Harper and Row, 1951. This is a seminal and classic volume on the subject of culture.

Stanford, Tim.   The Friendship Factor.  IVP, 1984. This is a fair introductory guide to how to cross cultural boundaries. If working with international students is your real interest I would suggest reading The World at Your Doorstep, if your are trying to prepare for missionary work this book is a good introduction to thinking about issues you will face when you try to cross cultural bounds.

Cross-Cultural Communication

Engel, James and Norton,  Wilbert.   What's Gone Wrong With the Harvest?. Zondervan, 1975. This book examines why some churches have been unable to reach people. This contains the so call Engel scale of spiritual decision process (decision continuum).

! Hesselgrave, David.   Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally.   Zondervan, 1978. This first part of the book deals with models of communication relying heavy on models developed by Communication and Linguistics researchers. The topics listed in the rest of the book include Communication and Culture, World Views, Behavioral patterns, Social Structures, Media Influence, and Motivational Sources.

Lingenfelter, Sherwood G. and Mayers, Marvin K. Ministering Cross Culturally:An Incarnational Model For Personal Relationships. Baker, 1986. 125 pp. Two missionary anthropologists join forces to present a time-tested means of improving relationships between people of different cultural backgrounds. Very valuable!

Reeb, Lyman. Preparing Missionaries for Intercultural Communication.   WC, 1988.

Smith, Donald.  Creating Understanding.  Zondervan, 1992.

Local Church and Missions

Bryant, David.   Concerts of Prayer.   Regal, 1984. This has the potential of being a good book, but fell short of it's potential. A major thesis is that prayer is the front-line when we talk of world evangelism. The first section tries to build a case for the important of prayer in revival. The second section makes suggestion on how we can start and build concerts of prayer. This is somewhat useful, but I found it to be too verbose. I also question some of his interpretations.

Johnstone, Patrick and Smith, Marti editors, The Unreached Peoples:Praying Through The Window 10/40. YWAM Publishing/Caleb Project, 1996. 120 pp.  Praying Through The Window III includes up-to-date prayer profiles on 127 of the Gateway People.  Clusters from AD2000's Joshua Project list. It will stimulate a general audience of Christians worldwide to specific, strategic coordinated prayer for the unreached peoples in the 10/40 Window. Plans for this book include distribution in 22+ languages with at least 50,000 English copies. Each page has basic information about the Gateway People Cluster, a map, photo, and four to six prayer requests.

Dictionary, Directories, Handbooks

Barrett, David B. and Ward, Ted.    The World Christian Encyclopedia.   Oxford University Press, 1982. This is a massive book of 1010 pages which provides all the numerical data you would ever want to know. Contains information about the size of all religions in each country of the world.

Bryant, David.   In The Gap.   Regal, 1984. More than a mission handbook, this is really a handbook for revival in the Western Churches. Byrant is calling for a new outlook on the world, and a new understanding of what our task is. He is agitating for a world vision. This book, although good, is not particularity well written, and may be overwhelming at times.

!* Johnstone, P.J.   Operation World.   STL/WEC, 1993 (5th edition). This is a prayer guide for the world. Each country is listed with it's greatest prayer needs, and a quick summary of the current status of the gospel in the country.  This is a good book to give you a feel for the state of the world, and a concrete list of things to pray for.

Parvin, Earl.   Missions USA.   Moody, 1985. A survey of major unreached peoples found in the USA today. Each chapter begins with a section describing how the highlighted group has been persecuted by the majority of others here in the US, and them goes on to describe the openness of the people, and to talk about how to reach this people.