Missio Alliance Essential Reading List of 2015
The cross means more than we’ve let it mean.
Proclaiming the gospel and forming the faithful: these are the most practiced disciplines of the evangelical church. As central as these disciplines are, however, they are only part of the story. And as Christian Community Development Association CEO Noel Castellanos has learned over a lifetime of ministry and mission, the neglect of the gospel’s full implications for the world has contributed to the erosion of communities and the languishing of poor and other marginalized people.
In Where the Cross Meets the Street Castellanos shows the strengths and limitations of a narrowly focused church and broadens our imaginations to embrace a gospel that proclaims Christ and forms disciples. This life-giving gospel also demonstrates compassion, confronts injustice and restores individuals and communities to wholeness. This is the whole work of the cross; this is the privilege of those who follow the Word made flesh.
Historian Mark Noll has written that historic Pietism “breathed a badly needed vitality” into post-Reformation Europe. Now the time has come for Pietism to revitalize Christianity in post-Christendom America.
In The Pietist Option, Christopher Gehrz, a historian of Pietism, and Mark Pattie, a pastor in the Pietist tradition, show how Pietism holds great promise for the church-and the world-today. Modeled after Philipp Spener’s 1675 classic, Pia Desideria, this timely book makes a case for the vitality of Pietism in our day.
Taking a hard look at American evangelicalism and why it needs renewal, Gehrz and Pattie explore the resources that Pietism can provide the church of the twenty-first century. This concise and winsome volume serves as a practical guide to the Pietist ethos for life and ministry, pointing us toward the renewal so many long for.
The Pietist Option introduces Pietism to those who don’t know it-and reintroduces it to those who perceive it as an outdated and inward-focused spirituality, a nitpicking divisiveness, or an anti-intellectual withdrawal. With its emphasis on our walk with Jesus and its vibrant hope for a better future, Pietism connects decisively with the ideas and issues of our day. Here is a revitalizing option for all who desire to be faithful and fruitful in God’s mission.
Does the Bible need to be saved?
Over the course of the centuries, Bible scholars and publishers have increasingly added “helps”―chapter divisions, verses, subheads, notes―to the Bible in an effort to make it easier to study and understand. In the process, however, these have led to sampling Scripture rather than reading deeply.
According to author Glenn R. Paauw, the text has become divorced from the Bible’s literary and historical context, leading to misinterpretation and a “narrow, individualistic and escapist view of salvation.” Rather than being a culture-shaping force, the Bible has become a database of quick and easy answers to life’s troubling questions. But these deficiencies can be corrected by engaging in what the author calls “big readings.”
In these pages Paauw introduces us to seven new (to us) understandings of the Bible as steps on the path to recovering one deeply engaged Bible. With each “new” Bible presented, deficiencies in how we currently interact with the Bible are explored, followed by recommendations for a new practice. The Bible’s transformative power is recovered when we remove the chains Christians have applied to it over the centuries.
The Bible does not need to be saved because of any defect in itself, but because we have distorted and misread it. Saving the Bible from Ourselves provides students of the Bible a new paradigm for reading and living the Bible well.
Does God hear us? Does God speak? How can we connect with God when all seems to be lost? What is our role in listening? Through exploring both biblical characters and teaching, the ten studies in this LifeGuide Bible study helps us understand how to seek and find an ever deeper dialogue with God.
Publisher: Intervarsity Press
Price: $2.99 (Mar 14-15)
“His was a ministry of incarnation―touching the infected, dining with sinners, defending the defenseless. The sick needed a physician, and the Physician had come.” Enter into the greatest story ever told. In this carefully researched retelling of the story of Jesus, pastor Russ Ramsey invites us to rediscover our wonder at Jesus’ sinless life, brutal death, and glorious resurrection. Featuring forty short chapters recounting key episodes from Jesus’ time on earth, this book expands on the biblical narrative in a fresh and creative way―giving us a taste of what it would have been like to walk next to Jesus and experience his earthly ministry firsthand. Also including The Advent of the Lamb of God and The Mission of the Body of Christ, the Retelling the Story series explores the narrative arc of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation in compelling language that is faithful to the text of Scripture. The stories are told afresh to help readers hide God’s word in their hearts by way of their imaginations.
“There are no God-forsaken places, just church-forsaken places.” ―Jon Fuller, OMF International Jonathan Brooks was raised in the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. As soon as he was able, he left the community and moved as far away as he could. But through a remarkable turn of events, he reluctantly returned and found himself not only back in Englewood but also serving as a pastor (“Pastah J”) and community leader. In Church Forsaken, Brooks challenges local churches to rediscover that loving our neighbors means loving our neighborhoods. Unpacking the themes of Jeremiah 29, he shows how Christians can be fully present in local communities, building homes and planting gardens for the common good. His holistic vision and practical work offers good news for forgotten people and places. And community stakeholders and civic leaders will rediscover that churches are viable partners in community transformation in ways that they may never have considered. God has always been at work in neglected neighborhoods. Join Pastah J on this journey and discover new hope for your community.
Most Christians are stuck in the huddle.
Even though we believe in outreach, most communities tend to focus on our own needs. That turns us into insular groups without many relationships with outsiders. So evangelism is occasional and conversions are rare. How do we change?
In their groundbreaking book I Once Was Lost, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp identified five thresholds that individuals cross when they shift from being skeptics to followers. Now they and Val Gordon show how huddled communities can become witnessing communities and then conversion communities, where evangelistic growth becomes the new normal. The authors have studied the growth of congregations, what enhances and limits them, and have gathered best practices for transformation.
Our churches and fellowships can become places where evangelism is not done by a just few people, but where the whole community itself becomes a winsome, thriving witness to those around it.
Break out of the huddle. Find out how.