Following is an updated list of MY top 40 books to best provide a thorough understanding of the missional church conversation, along with practical guidance on how to engage God’s mission more fully. The list is not comprehensive. I realize I have left out some of your favorites, and there are no doubt many other great books, but these are MY favorites and/or most helpful. And if you are interested by what I mean when I use the word missional check out this four part series here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.
Barrett, Lois and Darrell Guder
Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
The Missionary Nature of the Church: A Survey of the Biblical Theology of Mission
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.
Bosch, David J.
Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission
Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1991.
Brafman, Ori and Rod A. Beckstrom.
The Starfish and the Spider
Portfolio Trade, 2008.
Check out two great Sentralized Regional events just after the first of the year. The first one is in Chicago, January 13th & 14th. The second one is in Kansas City on February 12th & 13th. The theme of both conferences is “Seeking The Welfare of Your City” (Jeremiah 29:4-7). You can check out the main Sentralized website here, but just click on the banners to go straight to each regional event page.
Some of the sessions will include conversation around:
Michael Frost is an internationally recognized missiologist and one of the leading voices in the missional church movement. His books are required reading in colleges and seminaries around the world and he is much sought after as an international conference speaker. He is the Vice Principal of Morling College and the founding Director of the Tinsley Institute, a mission study centre located at Morling College in Sydney, Australia.
Deb Hirsch is an Aussie living in America. She is a minister at the Tribe of L.A. an eclectic bunch of missional artists and vagabonds who meet in downtown Los Angeles. She also serves on the leadership team of Forge American and Christian Associates International. She is co-author of UnTamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship. Her latest book is titled, Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality.
Alan Hirsch is a teacher and key mission strategist for churches across the western world. His popular book The Shaping of Things to Come (with Michael Frost) is widely considered to be a seminal text on mission. Alan’s book, The Forgotten Ways, has quickly become a key reference for missional thinking, particularly as it relates to missional movements. Alan is the founding Director of Forge Mission Training Network. Alan’s latest book, is titled The Permanent Revolution.
Hugh Halter is the founder of Missio, and the author of Sacrilege, BiVo and co-author of The Tangible Kingdom and AND. His latest book is titled FLESH. He speaks extensively, encouraging and equipping pastors in incarnational ministry and missional leadership. He and his wife Cheryl live in Denver, Colorado, and have three adult children.
Dori Gorman co-pastors the Edgewater campus of Community Christian Church on the north side of Chicago. She teaches, produces Sunday celebration services, disciples leaders and provides pastoral care at her church. Dori has also pioneered several initiatives in the city, including a meetup.com group for new parents, a fundraising organization for Swift Elementary School, and an after-school club for middle school students.
Born and raised in London, Jo Saxton worked at the influential St.Thomas’s Church, Sheffield, before moving to southern California with her pastor husband, Chris, and two daughters. Jo is a popular speaker throughout the United States and England, and a director of 3D Ministries, an organization that equips church leaders to create missional, discipleship-centered communities. She and her husband have recently planted a church in Minneapolis. Jo is also the author of three books including More than Enchanting, which explores the subject of women in leadership.
Tim Soren is a social entrepreneur, and co-founding director of the Parish Collective, where he convenes ministry leaders, teaches, and consults with organizations seeking human flourishing in particular neighborhoods while also working collaboratively across the city. As social entrepreneur he is a founding adviser of Impact Hub-Seattle, an innovative co-working space for change makers in both non-profit and business sectors. Tim has written the new book titled The New Parish.
Rob Wegner is the lead catalyst for EnterMission, which sparks holistic transformation of communities by cultivating grassroots movements, coaching and networking churches for local and global impact, and forging transformational partnerships across the domains of society. Currently Rob is working alongside Alan Hirsch in an innovative coaching program called Future Travelers helping mega-churches become missional movements. He is also one of the teaching pastors at Westside Family Church and author of Missional Moves.
Helen Lee has been a writer and editor in the Christian publishing market for more than two decades. She is an associate editor at InterVarsity Press, the author of The Missional Mom, and contributor to numerous other books. She has also served as co-editor and contributor of Growing Healthy Asian-American Churches and has authored many articles and posts for organizations and blogs such as Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, Sojourners, Christ and Pop Culture, and Today’s Christian Woman.
Dave Ferguson serves as the Lead Pastor for a remarkable group of Christ Followers called Community Christian Church and provides visionary leadership for NewThing, a global network of reproducing churches. He is also the co-founder of the Institute for Community (www.instituteforcommunity.org), who partner with real estate developers and apartment communities to accomplish their mission of “helping people build quality relationships where you live and work through the power of genuine community.” He is the author of The BIG IDEA and Exponential and On The Verge.
Darryl Ford serves as pastor at Ikon Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia. His greatest passion is seeing the gospel radically transforming myriad cultures and people groups through creative contextualization without compromise. He wholeheartedly believes that when people awaken to the grandeur of God and His attributes, their greatest affections will be oriented towards Him and genuine transformation (both individually as well as corporately) will occur.
Lance Ford has over two decades of experience as a pastor, church planter, coach, and consultant and is the cofounder of the Sentralized Conference and KC Sentral, a missional training network in Kansas City. He is the author of several books, including the newly released, Revangelical: Becoming The Good News People We’re Meant To Be.
Dan Southerland leads Westside Family Church’s team’s teaching direction and content, maintaining healthy biblical theology, and communicating a clear vision for Westside. Having deep experience in developing innovative and high-profile churches, Dan has authored the breakthrough church development book Transitioning and recent book Chair Time.
Jon Shirley is a respected worship leader with over 20 years of experience as a church leader, songwriter, and recording artist. He has a tremendous passion for developing the character of young worship leaders and a restless fascination with the person of Jesus that has dramatically impacted his vision for the worship leaders of today and tomorrow.
Eric Lerew is a storyteller, disciple maker, church planter, missional coach, and Director of Forge Chicago. His passion is equipping God’s people to live together as missionaries in their everyday lives and to announce and demonstrate the gospel of the kingdom in works, wonders, and words.
Sher Sheets is a barista in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, one of the most diverse in the city, where she also runs JUSTembrace. Shortly after its inception in 2011, JUSTembrace reclaimed a drug house and began to host neighbors for parties. Every year JUSTembrace hosts nearly 150 events in their hospitality house and throughout the community, focusing on living lifestyles of restoration through inclusivity, generosity and hospitality.
Troy McMahon is the lead pastor at Restore Community Church. Prior to planting Restore he served on staff at Community Christian Church in Chicagoland for over 10 years and held numerous roles during that time as part of the management team, from business manager to facility design to launching a couple of new locations.
Scott Nelson serves as the Director of Theology for the Forge America Mission Training Network and is also a Ph.D. Candidate in Congregational Mission and Leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. He is the author of the five Forge Guides for Missional Conversation (InterVarsity Press) and loves the thrill of helping people discover how God is calling them to participate in His mission to the world. Scott and his family live as missionaries in their condominium complex.
Mischele Brisco is a foster care, adoption advocate. She and her husband have three children; they have adopted two and have been a resource family for more than 60 foster children. She is actively involved in equipping and encouraging those engaged in the foster system.
Brad Brisco is currently the Church Planting Catalyst for a network of Baptist churches in Kansas City. He holds a doctorate in the area of missional ecclesiology; his doctoral thesis was on assisting existing congregations in transitioning in a missional direction. He also serves on the National Leadership team for Forge America Mission Training Network and is co-founder of the Sentralized Conference. Brad is co-author of Missional Essentials and The Missional Quest.
I often have people ask me what book(s) I would recommend to better understand the missional conversation. In most cases when someone asks for suggestions I start by asking where they are on the journey and if there are particular aspects they are wanting to learn more about. In light of their response, my recommendations (based on what I have read and found helpful) usually go something like this:
If someone is brand new to the conversation I usually suggest Right Here Right Now, The Road to Missional or Sentness. If it is for a small group I would suggest Missional Essentials. If they have already read one or more of those books and are looking for something a bit more challenging or comprehensive I would suggest The Shaping of Things to Come, The Forgotten Ways, Exiles, and The Missional Church.
If someone is considering planting with more of a missional DNA I strongly suggest The Tangible Kingdom and Church Planting: The Foundations. If the emphasis is on shifting an existing congregation in more of a missional direction I would suggest The Missional Quest and AND. If wanting to rethink missional leadership then The Permanent Revolution is a must, along with Creating a Missional Culture, and UnLeader.
If someone is thinking more about movements and multiplication then I would once again suggest The Forgotten Ways along with Organic Church and The Starfish and the Spider. Organic Church would also fit into the discussion on missional discipleship along with both UnTamed and ReJesus. And finally if looking to focus on community transformation then The Abundant Community, The Art of Neighboring and To Transform a City.
If we hope to have a genuine missional movement in North America and beyond, it will only happen because the work of the Gospel gets into the hands of the people — the everyday folks.
This demands a grassroots ethos. Sentralized has that feel to it. It is kind of a blue collar conference.
We want to offer an excellent experience for everyone, but we don’t try to make it over-produced. Missional is about accessibility. For example, all of our speakers are available during break times, hanging out with attendees to share stories, insights, and answer questions that don’t get covered during the formal talk. Every evening multiple, informal get-togethers take place. We believe this kind of culture is essential for a genuine movement to be sparked.
We also highlight some of the “under the radar” folks who are doing incredible work in their places of ministry but their story is not widely known. Maybe they haven’t written a book or spoken at other conferences, but they are fabulous missionaries. And when Sentralized attendees hear their stories, they often say, “I can do that!”
What will the format and flow of Sentralized Dallas be?
There are two things we have tried to do a little differently this year in regards to content.
First, we have divided several of the plenary sessions into 18-minute “TED-like” talks. Each of the “micro-talks” are focused more on missional practices. While the breakouts are specifically focused on training and practical application, we think adding more emphasis on practices in the main sessions will be helpful.
Second, we have created a greater emphasis on the transitioning of existing congregations in a missional direction. There will be both main sessions and workshops that will help give specific direction on church transitions.
Can you briefly share three potential and specific takeaways you believe will be eye-opening for those who attend Sentralized?
First, regardless of a leader’s approach to church, the bottom line has to be about missionary formation. Every Christian has to first see himself/herself as a missionary sent into a local context. Moreover, the leaders have to be able to equip every member in their church to also think and act like a missionary.
Second, we want people to understand that they have already been sent. God has already sent all of us to the places we find ourselves today. Therefore, it is about discovering what God is doing around us today, and then discerning how God wants us to participate in what He is already doing.
Third, we want every conference participant to recognize that they are a part of a larger family, or tribe. We have very purposely created time and space for people to “hang-out” with others who are on the missional journey. That includes all of the presenters as well as fellow participants. We want people to know that they are not alone on their journey. We all can, and need, to learn from one another.
Any stories of how over the years the Sentralized conference has been integral in inspiring and equipping leaders to live missionally?
The most common and repeated story we hear is from men and women—often in tears—who approach us sometime during or following Sentralized and say, “This is what I’ve been searching for. I knew in my heart that there was more to ministry than pulling off a Sunday service. And I am getting some handles on it through the speakers and people I’ve met here.”
The connections through the ministries and training opportunities, beyond Sentralized, that people get exposed to during the conference often gets leaders on the pathway they need to live and lead missionally.
How are you praying for Sentralized Dallas?
Please join with us in praying for leaders and Christians in general that are searching for answers on how to live and lead missionally…that they will hear about Sentralized and have the means to make it there. We are praying for our speakers and volunteers to be filled with the Spirit to serve the movement of participating in God’s mission in such a way that it will be reproducible in the lives and contexts of every attendees.
Early bird registration ends on July 31st. Mark your calendar and register here.
This September we will once again be hosting some of the best missional thinkers and practitioners in the world at the Sentralized conference.
Come spend time with and learn from Alan and Deb Hirsch, Mark Labberton, Michael Frost, Neil Cole, Hugh Halter, Wendy McCaig, Mark Sayers, Dan Kimball, Lance Ford, Kathy Escobar, Kim Hammond, Christena Cleveland, Caesar Kalinowski, Matt Smay, Laura Hairston, Efrem Smith, Sherry Maddock, Brandon Hatmaker, Geoff Maddock, Rebecca Walls, Grant Skeldon, Bob Roberts, Omar Reyes, Dudley Callison, Barry Jones, Cynthia Viola, Mischele Brisco, Ryan Hairston, Mindy Caliguire, Ori Brafman, Matt Miller, Elaine Heath, Rickie Bradshaw and others.
We will be offering 14 main sessions, 50 breakout sessions, and significant “living room” times to network and connect with all the presenters. So get registered, mark your calendar and plan on joining us in Dallas in September!
You may ask; “why another conference”? There are essentially three reasons we have taken the time and effort to put Sentralized together again this year.
First, we believe there is a continual need to bring clarity to missional-incarnational language and concepts. Unfortunately, the use of missional terminology has become confusing in many circles. Some view “missional” as the latest church growth strategy, or a better way of doing evangelism. Others see missional as a means to mobilize church members to do missions more effectively. Still others believe missional is simply the latest Christian buzz word that will soon pass when the next trendy topic comes along.
However, we would argue that those who believe missional is merely an add-on to current church activities, or perhaps a passing fad prevalent only among church leaders, have simply not fully grasped the magnitude of the missional conversation. While it may sound like hyperbole; the move towards missional-incarnational mission involves no less than a complete and thorough recalibration of our understanding of God’s mission, as well as the form and function of His church. By bringing together many of today’s best missional thinkers, we want to challenge God’s people to critically consider the significance of the concepts and principles.
Second, we want to ensure the conversation moves beyond theory. We want to inspire and propel the people of God to engage His mission in life changing ways. That is why a considerable portion of the conference will focus on practical engagement; through the stories and personal examples of some of the best missional practitioners from around the country.
Third, we desire Sentralized to be a wellspring of relationships, networking and collaboration. We want everyone to feel a part of a like-minded tribe. To help this take place we have created “living room” spaces around sponsors’ displays and throughout the commons area. There will be numerous opportunities for you to cultivate relationships and exchange ideas, not only with other conference participants, but with each conference presenter. We want you to have real opportunities to interact personally with each of the presenters. To have the chance to get to know the presenters and to ask questions that are applicable to your ministry setting.
Register here. Hope to see you in September.
The concept of incarnational mission has always been an important aspect of the missional conversation. Many voices have rightly argued that the idea of missional (being sent) falls short if it is not coupled with the notion of incarnational living (the “enfleshing” of our lives). While there are a few good resources that speak to the importance of an incarnational posture in relation to our local context, none speak to the significant barriers that prohibit us from truly enfleshing our lives – or least not until Mike’s new book Incarnate.
Mike provides a much-needed explanation of what we are up against when attempting to live an incarnated life. He brilliantly lays out the different ways we have “defleshed” or excarnated our lives. As a result of hyper dualism, technology, and individualism, the vast majority of people are now living rootless, disembodied, relationally disconnected lives. But he not only clearly defines the problem but he then provides hope and encouragement for the church to be the alternative to the excarnational impulses in society today.
Before anyone attempts to engage the practices of missional-incarnational living they should first understand the why before the how. Incarnate provides the very best foundation for properly answering the why questions. Rarely do I use the language of “must read” but in this case that phrase is more than fitting.
We are excited to have Mike speaking again at Sentralized, September 25th-27th in Dallas.
Join us for the Sentralized West Coast 2014 gathering in Costa Mesa January 23rd-25th, 2014. We will be hosting some of the best missional thinkers and practitioners in the world.
Come spend time with and learn from Alan and Deb Hirsch, Michael Frost, Ori Brafman, Neil Cole, Hugh Halter, Jen Hatmaker, Dan Kimball, Noel Castellanos, Lance Ford, Kathy Escobar, Kim Hammond, Lisa Sharon Harper, Caesar Kalinowski, Matt Smay, Leroy Barber, Efrem Smith, Jon Huckins, Sean Gladding, Beau Crosetto, Brad Brisco and others.
We will be offering 14 main sessions, 27 breakout sessions, and significant “living room” times to network and connect with all the presenters. So get registered, mark your calendar and plan on joining us in Costa Mesa in January!
Be sure to mark your calendars now for the Sentralized 2013 gathering in Kansas City this September 26th-28th. We will once again be hosting some of the best missional thinkers and practitioners in the world. Come spend time with and learn from Alan and Deb Hirsch, Michael Frost, Ed Stetzer, Neil Cole, Hugh Halter, Jen Hatmaker, Noel Castellanos, Dave Ferguson, Lance Ford, Kim Hammond, Kirsten Strand, Brian Sanders, Danielle Strickland, Kathy Escobar, Mark Labberton, Chris Folmsbee, Tim Catchim, Cam Roxburgh, Brandon Hatmaker, Caesar Kalinowski, Matt Smay, Dan Southerland, Gary Kendall, Brad Brisco, Mischele Brisco, Ryan Hairston, Laura Hairston, Jon Shirley, Joey Turner and others.
We will be offering 14 main sessions, over 30 breakout sessions, and significant times to network and connect with all the presenters. Further details are available on the Sentralized website here. Mark your calendar and plan on joining us in KC this September!
Here is the first main session from the Sentralized 2012 gathering. In this talk Michael Frost speaks to how the exilic experience of Israel in Babylon can be equated in some ways to the place of exile the church today finds itself. He makes some compelling arguments as to how Israel was sustained during a time of captivity and how some of those sames postures and practices can help the church maintain its faith today.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Sentralized 2013, which will be September 26th – 28th. Michael Frost Sentralized Conference 2012: "Jesus The Exile" from Lance Ford on Vimeo.
UPDATE: If you have come to this page to learn about the next Sentralized gathering it will be in Dallas this September 25th to 27th.
We will once again be hosting some of the best missional thinkers and practitioners in the world.
Come spend time with and learn from Alan and Deb Hirsch, Mark Labberton, Michael Frost, Neil Cole, Hugh Halter, Wendy McCaig, Mark Sayers, Dan Kimball, Lance Ford, Kathy Escobar, Kim Hammond, Christena Cleveland, Caesar Kalinowski, Matt Smay, Laura Hairston, Efrem Smith, Sherry Maddock, Brandon Hatmaker, Geoff Maddock, Bob Roberts, Omar Reyes, Barry Jones, Cynthia Viola, Mischele Brisco, Ryan Hairston, Mindy Caliguire, Ori Brafman, Matt Miller, Brad Brisco and others.
We will be offering 14 main sessions, over 40 breakout sessions, and significant “living room” times to network and connect with all the presenters. So get registered, mark your calendar and plan on joining us in Dallas in September!