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What books about the church have you enjoyed reading?

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in blog links, books | 17 comments

What books about the church have you enjoyed reading?

I’ve read many books about the church. I got something out of almost all of them that I’ve read. (Actually, I may have gotten something out of all of them, but I’m not certain… so I said “almost all.”)

I’ve read books that were written from a more organic/simple perspective, and I’ve read books that were written from a more institutional/organizational perspective. I’ve read books about the church from the perspective of many different denominations and philosophies and religious traditions. Again, I’ve learned something from them, and I’m glad that I’ve read widely when it comes to the church.

My friend Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” gave us his list of “Top Ten Books About The Church” last week. This is his list (in alphabetical order):

Biblical Church
The Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
House Church: Simple, Strategic, Scriptural
Mere Churchianity
Pagan Christianity?
Reimagining Church
Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community
What is the Mission of the Church?
When the Church Was a Family
Your Church is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church

He also includes the following as “honorable mentions”:

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
Finding Organic Church
Houses That Change the World
The Jesus Paradigm
The Normal Christian Church Life
Outgrowing the Ingrown Church
The Rabbit and the Elephant

I’ve read most of these books, and I agree that they are all good in their own way.

But, now, Eric is asking for our help. He’s asked, “What’s Your Favorite Book About the Church?

In a comment on his post, I added the following to his list: Peterson’s Engaging With God, Banks’ Paul’s Idea of Community, and Girard’s Brethren, Hang Loose and Brethren, Hang Together. I also later agreed with other commenters that Bonhoeffer’s Life Together and some of Snyder’s books are very good. (Yeah, you knew that I couldn’t just offer one book, right?)

But, what books would you add to the lists above? What books about the church have you enjoyed reading? Which books have challenged your thinking (in a good way) even if you disagreed with the author?

Share some books here, then jump over to Eric’s post and share them with him as well.


17 Comments

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  1. 9-24-2012

    Pagan Christianity was hugely helpful to me in that it historically affirmed what I had already been feeling about the church.

    Francis Chan’s Crazy Love is also a tremendous read. It does not talk about church structure, but it focuses on believers living as the church. His BASIC DVD series is also very good in this regard.

    I recently read Ross Parsley’s Messy Church, and I found it to be quite good in emphasizing the church as a family. I also reviewed it on my blog:
    http://www.beingfilled.com/2012/07/messy-church-book-review.html

    Finally, there is a little-known church history book called Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent. It chronicles the various groups of the church that resisted institutional Christianity from the very beginning. It’s a fascinating bit of history that I think should be read by anyone interested in the church.

    It’s also available free through Project Gutenberg:
    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks10/1000351h.html

  2. 9-24-2012

    Church 3.0 by Neil Cole is a good read. It provides a framework for discussion of how/where the Church is heading in the 21st century.

  3. 9-24-2012

    Paul Vieira’s ‘Jesus has left the building’ got me thinking in more ways than one, but I read it several years ago so I don’t remember precisely in what ways :-)

    And Julia Fisher’s book ‘Israel: The mystery of peace’ is excellent but hard to find. It was only published in the UK, and only as a paperback as far as I know, and it’s no longer in print. It’s a collection of stories about people, not ‘church’ per se. But it’s all about things that should happen more in church circles yet sometimes don’t.

  4. 9-24-2012

    A few other great books on the church: Acts, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews, Revelation. ;)

  5. 9-24-2012

    Two books that have spoken to my heart and my spirit about the church as a living entity…over the years they have sprouted many wonderful blossoms of understanding from the seeds planted early in my Christian life…Bright Valley of Love by Edna Hong and Bruchko by Bruce Olsen.

  6. 9-24-2012

    Chuck,

    Thanks for the list, especially the one by Broadbent. I have not heard of that.

    And, while many people have told me that my understanding of the church is unbiblical and must have been formed by reading heretical books, most of what I believe about the church (hopefully all?) has been discovered while reading and studying Scripture.

    Heartspeak,

    I’ve read one of Cole’s books, but not that one. Thank you.

    Chris,

    The book by Fisher sounds very interesting. I may have to look up that one.

    Rita,

    I don’t think I’ve heard of the first one. Thank you for the suggestions.

    Everyone,

    If you haven’t yet, please leave your suggestions in comments on Eric’s blog also.

    -Alan

  7. 9-24-2012

    Body Politics by John Howard Yoder

  8. 9-24-2012

    Alan,

    Thanks for the link. I’m glad people are responding, whether here or on my blog. I look forward to reading some of these books.

    Eric

  9. 9-24-2012

    Climb the Highest Mountain by Gene Edwards. It was a series of talks he gave to group that was coming apart. He touches on church history, relationships, and other aspects of the church.

  10. 9-24-2012

    Been years since I read it, but…

    The Open Church (by James H. Rutza)

  11. 9-25-2012

    Gold Cord,The Story of a Fellowship. by Amy Carmichael, missionary to India. ISBN 87508-068-5
    published by Christian Literature Crusade.
    Not a theology of church structure but a narrative of church growth.
    I bought and read it in the early 80’s. Discovered that the gems of daily fellowship and brotherly love she experienced were similar to our fellowship. Not a template, but certainly a beautiful example of Jesus drawing his people together into His embrace.

  12. 9-25-2012

    Behold the Lamb, The Story of the Moravian Church, by Peter Hoover (a free online book) It’s also not a theology, but a history, but it does describe in places how the Moravians functioned under Count Zinzendorf.

  13. 9-25-2012

    Thanks again for the suggestions, everyone!

    -Alan

  14. 9-30-2012

    “From Eternity to Here”, by Frank Viola gives a fresh vision of Christ, and with it a fresh vision of His Bride, His Body, and His House.

  15. 10-1-2012

    Tim,

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    -Alan

  16. 10-2-2012

    From Eternity to Here!! YES!! I 2nd that one, too!

  17. 10-2-2012

    I have been reading The Pilgrim Church — the free eBook. WOW! That is a powerful book!

    CHeck this out……..

    “Jesus made Himself the centre of each of the churches dispersed throughout the world, saying, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18. 20), and He gave the Scriptures for their unchanging guidance. For this reason it has proved impossible to extinguish the churches; when in one place they have been destroyed they have appeared again in others.”

    the Church is like the fireants in my yard! You might be able to hurt one of their hills…. but they will always come up someplace else! We are EVERYWHERE!!! :)