What can an academic essay tell you about a person?

Recently I have appreciated some very useful discussion with a number of colleagues about training for pastors and church planters, particularly those working in urban contexts with ‘working class’ communities. There are several good posts available, including those you can read here and here. The conversation has given me much to think about.

A common thread running through much of the discussion is the perception that ‘academic’ assessments are not helpful for people working in such contexts. I have no doubt that some assessments, indeed some of the assessments I myself have set for students, have been less useful than they might have been. But I still believe that academic essays can demonstrate the strength or weakness of skills that are as important for church planters in urban contexts as for anyone else, and indeed can help to form such skills. I want to try to show that in this post.

Before I proceed, though, it is important to state clearly that there are some qualities and skills that are impossible to cultivate or evaluate adequately in an academic context. To take one example question from a post on the Faithroots blog,  ‘Do you model a godly family life?’ cannot, I suspect, be evaluated by any kind of assessment method, but only by a long-term friend or pastor. That means that holistic education and training can only be achieved by means of cooperation between academic institutions and churches.

I would also want to argue that, when both tutors and students engage in the process effectively, preparing an essay is truly an opportunity for growth through mentoring and modelling. Some of the most rewarding experiences I have had with students who are writing essays are occasions when a student asks to see me long before the essay submission date and asks for guidance on the significance of the question, or on how to develop a clear structure, or on what kinds of sources to use. Such conversations bring joy to my heart! And I am delighted to offer guidance (without telling the student what to write!). I am reminded of the narrative following the ‘Parable of the Soils’ in Mark 4:10-20. What distinguishes the disciples and others in this text from the crowds is not that they understood the parable better (they apparently did not, v. 10; compare the parallel passage in Luke 8:9: ‘His disciples asked him what this parable meant.’), but that they realised that they did not understand and came to Jesus to address that issue. While this is clearly not an exact parallel (!), I think that students will get most out of an essay when they approach their tutor to discuss the issues about which they are unsure.

It is also important to banish the myth that ‘academic’ means ‘abstract and unnecessarily complicated’. Some academic writing certainly qualifies for such a description (and that has led to the popular usage of the word, as indicated in a dictionary). But that is not an inherent characteristic of academic work. Academic work is simply work that demonstrates the scholarly standards of the academy. One of the essay topics I set recently was ‘What does Paul mean by “the gospel”?’ I don’t regard that question as particularly esoteric! Many lecturers, particularly those working in the context of training Christian workers, will set assignments with an eye to the issues that matter in the life of the church. Likewise, I am most likely to award good marks to students when they express themselves in clear sentences and paragraphs. Complicated and confusing language deserves no extra reward!

With those qualifications made, what can an academic essay indicate about a person?  And how can it serve as an opportunity for developing important skills and character traits? Here are ten suggestions. I will express these in terms of what have been called ‘transferable skills’. This means that if a person can demonstrate these skills in one context (an essay), they should be able to demonstrate them in other contexts with appropriate adjustments.

An academic essay can help answer the following questions:

  1. Can this person answer the specific question that has been asked?
  2. Does this person demonstrate a competent understanding of the key information relating to the required topic?
  3. Can this person meet deadlines?
  4. Can this person communicate effectively within set constraints?
  5. Can this person express their thoughts clearly and unambiguously?
  6. Can this person read texts carefully?
  7. Does this person value accuracy and check facts?
  8. Does this person seek out a variety of perspectives on a subject from credible sources prior to coming to a conclusion?
  9. Can this person disagree with others respectfully, while representing their views fairly?
  10. Does this person reach considered judgements based on careful consideration of evidence and arguments, giving due acknowledgement to sources from which they have learned?

Are these the only characteristics required of a pastor or church planter or missionary? No, absolutely not! But are these characteristics of great importance for a pastor or church planter or missionary? I would suggest that they are. And an academic essay is a reasonably efficient, relatively objective and consistent means of evaluating whether or not a particular person displays them or not.

Now, before I am misunderstood, let me say that I will give careful consideration to suggestions of alternative forms of assessment and to the matter of appropriate assessment load. I am grateful for ideas that have been shared by colleagues in various kinds of ministry. And I am all for pitching both teaching and assessment at a level appropriate for the current educational level of a particular student or group of students. All I ask here is that readers consider whether essays (or exegeses or book reviews, etc.) can, in fact, be quite valuable forms of assessment for anyone who wishes to work effectively in Christian ministry of any kind.

I look forward to ongoing constructive discussion regarding how best to train people for Kingdom work.


New Beginnings 

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Last year was my first year of writing a blog. It has been a good experience, from my perspective. It has provided an opportunity to share ideas on a range of subjects, mainly relating to books and reading.

One of the fascinating aspects of opperating the blog has been to see the locations of readers. According to the statistics provided by WordPress, at least one person from more than ninety different countries has looked at the blog at least once in the past year. I love the sense that the blog provides a connection, albeit an anonymous one, with people all over the world.

Since I began writing blog posts in January 2017, the blog has received several thousands views. But as the clock turned to midnight and 1 January 2018, all the statistics for day, week, month, and year turned to zero. The slate was wiped clean. There is a new beginning. 

It brought Paul’s words to mind:

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

What an opportunity! A new start! I pray that each reader of my blog will know that experience this year.

For a Christian, while this new start is objectively true, there must also be a conscious choice to look to the future. Elsewhere, Paul writes:

One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 3:13-14)

I had the privilege of preaching from Revelation 7:9-17 yesterday. The vision of a vast, multi-cultural, multi-lingual crowd gathered to declare the praise of ‘our God and the Lamb’ is thrilling and deeply encouraging for life and service in the present moment.

Today is a new beginning for me in that it is formally my first day of employment with Edinburgh Theological Seminary. I look back on my time working with Highland Theological College over a total of twelve years with great affection and thankfulness, and I pray that the ministry of HTC will go from strength to strength. Now, I look forward with great anticipation to working with new colleagues and new students at ETS, in the hope that I can make a contribution to the work of mission through theological education and training. I look forward to seeing how God will will work out his purposes in the coming year.

I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog during the past year, and I hope these readers – and others – will visit the blog from time to time during 2018. No doubt there will be a few posts about mission, biblical studies, and books.

Whatever 2018 holds for you, I offer my good wishes and the prayer that you will know grace and peace from the ‘Lord of the years’ during this year. 


Globalchurch, by Graham Hill

Graham Hill has done a great service to the church in writing GlobalChurch. In this substantial volume, Hill intends to help Christians (and particularly ‘Western’ Christians) to listen to the voices of authors from the ‘Majority World’ speaking about the character of the church and her role in ‘the mission of God’ in the world, voices that might otherwise have been overlooked or ignored. This is not the last word on the issues addressed, but it is a very valuable contribution to the discussion.

This handsomely-produced hardback book, published by IVP, receives warm commendations from distinguished missiologists Scott Moreau (Wheaton) and Amos Yong (Fuller), and from Scot McKnight who wrote the Foreword. In the course of over four hundred pages of text, Hill, who teaches and serves as vice principal at Morling College, Sydney, covers a remarkable array of topics, divided into three parts and sixteen chapters. You can see the full table of contents on the publisher’s web site. The three parts are entitled ‘Salt: Reshaping Our Conversations’; ‘Light: Renewing Our Mission’; and ‘City: Revitalizing Our Churches’. These headings, and, to a certain extent, the book as a whole, build on Hill’s earlier book (now republished in a second edition), Salt, Light, and a City.  Chapter titles include: ‘Glocalizing Conversations’ and ‘Contextualizing Mission’. The first chapter title introduces one of the key concepts in the recently-coined (and, I think, rather inelegant!) term ‘glocal’. This term (popularised, according to Hill, by Roland Robertson, p. 26). Hill explains that this term is used to highlight the interconnection between global issues and local contexts. In this book, Hill explores how global theological issues are worked out in Majority World contexts.

Topics covered in the chapters include ‘liberation’, creation care, and theological education. I found Hill’s discussions of theological education helpful and challenging as I reflect on my own work in that area. How should I teach so that mission lies at the heart of all that I do with the students?

Each chapter follows a fairly standard pattern: First, there is an introduction to the topic, usually rooted in an account of the experience of some individuals. This section is concluded with the statement ‘This chapter asks, What can we learn from how Majority World Christians …‘.  Then Hill proceeds to the main discussion of the topic, drawing on the writings of authors from (or sometimes with strong associations with) the Majority World. Hill then closes each chapter with a series of ‘Concluding Reflections’. These reflections function as calls to action based on the earlier discussion. Hill makes good use of section headings and numbered lists, so the material is quite easy to follow.

At the end of the book, Hill includes three appendices. The first describes the GlobalChurch Project website. This resource is well worth a visit and includes many interesting videos and other resources. The second appendix is a study guide for use by churches, classes and small groups. The third appendix is a list of the names of notable Majority World authors with brief comments on their contexts and contributions. This is a very useful feature for readers who are beginning to discover these authors.

Hill writes in an easy style and I enjoyed reading the book. The book’s register lies somewhere between a typical popular work and a typical academic work. Hill provides careful surveys of scholarship and rich bibliographical information in his footnotes His writing style, however, is relatively informal (he frequently uses contracted phrases, such as ‘they’re’, ‘it’s’ and ‘we’ll’, all on p. 374) and he often uses the language of exhortation (‘we must …’) that gives a sermonic flavour to substantial portions of the book, particularly the ‘Concluding Reflections’.

This book has many strengths. The topics that Hill discusses are of crucial importance not only to missiologists but to Christians everywhere. But the introduction to Majority World thinkers is particularly important in these days. No reader of theology should remain content to ignore the voices of theologians from less familiar parts of the world. I also appreciated Hill’s evident passion for the mission of the church.

There were a few matters, on the other hand, where I had some reservations. Generally, there are matters of nuance. There were a few places where Hill appears quite certain that ‘we must’ do certain things, I wondered if he skipped rather quickly over significant differences among writers on mission regarding the nature of ‘mission’. So, for example, when Hill states that ‘Contextual mission must be integral and transformational’ (p. 54), I wondered whether some missiologists would want to say, ‘Wait a moment! What do you mean by these terms?’. But Hill’s discussion tends to assume that view rather than enter into debate.

Also, Hill is quite eclectic in drawing from authors of various perspectives. This is particularly evident in his chapter on ‘Liberating People’, where he draws on various authors associated with ‘Liberation Theology’. Hill is correct that there is much to learn from engaging with Liberation Theology, and he also offers some important critical comments on some features of this strand of theology (pp. 91-94). But readers should be aware that the Majority World authors included in the book represent a very wide range of viewpoints. Likewise, while most Christians will enthusiastically affirm the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in Mission, not all will be ready to regard every expression of charismatic or Pentecostal Christianity as necessarily a sign of the Spirit’s activity (compare Hill’s comment, ‘Seventy-six percent of all renewalists in the world live in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Clearly, the Spirit is empowering the global church for mission.’ p. 435). Hill explains that he holds to a charismatic theology, having originally been involved in a Reformed church. This combination of influences is evident in various interesting ways. Hill himself shows discernment on certain expressions of Pentecostal thinking (e.g., p. 144) and he nuances his statements more in some places than in others. Perhaps this is inevitable in a work of such grand scope.

Despite these slight reservations, I am very grateful for GlobalChurch. I learned a great deal, even when I was not in complete agreement. This book should be read by every Christian and Christian leader who wishes to listen carefully to the insights of Majority World Christians. I hope to see much more engagement with the work of Majority World Christians in future as a result of Graham Hill’s important book.
(Many thanks to IVP for providing a review copy of this book.)

Christianity at the Crossroads, by Michael J. Kruger

Some days of vacation have given me an opportunity to catch up on some reading. One of the books I have been reading as time allowed for the past few weeks, and have now finished, is Christianity at the Crossroads by Michael J.  Kruger and published by SPCK in the UK and IVP in the USA. The sub-title of the book is ‘How the Second Century Shaped the Future of the Church’. This study of aspects of Christianity in the Second Century will be of value not only to students of Church History (the discipline that has traditionally considered this period) but also to students of biblical studies. It is notable that both Michael Kruger and Chris Keith (who writes a commendation for the book) occupy chairs of ‘New Testament and Early Christianity’, indicating the way in which students if the New Testament typically pay more attention to the Second Century than may sometimes have been the case in the past. This is also evident in James Dunn’s ‘Christianity in the Making’ series, which covers the period up to Irenaeus.

The book is composed of an introduction, seven main chapters, and a conclusion. The volume is completes with a seventeen-page select bibliography and Scripture, Persons, and Subject indices.

In the introduction, Kruger highlights some important scholarly literature relevant to his topic, then identifies key themes in Second Century Christianity, noting various ways in which the period is characterised by transition. The first chapter considers the identity of Christianity as it became more clearly distinct from Judaism. Chapter two considers perceptions of Christianity in the political and intellectual spheres of the time, and the responses made by the early apologists. Chapter three discusses church structures in the Second Century and the features of Christian worship. The fourth chapter recognises that the was considerable diversity among early Christian groups, but chapter five challenges the claim of Walter Bauer that there was no clear ‘orthodoxy at that time. Rather there was general recognition of the ‘rule of faith. Chapter six discusses the ‘bookish’ character of early Christianity, which included the production of books that would be rejected by the Church. This leads naturally on to chapter seven which argues that there were clearly certain books being used as ‘scripture’ in the Second Century, which implies a recognised (though not necessarily finalised) canon. The conclusion provides a handy summary of each chapter.

This book is clearly written and well-produced, with clear, readable text. It has several notable strengths. One of the most important is the frequent citation of material from the ancient authors themselves, which ensures that the reader gets a measure of direct exposure to the primary sources. Ideally, these brief references will stimulate a desire in readers to explore more of these texts for themselves. A further strength is that the book combines accessibility with engagement with scholarship. Thus this book provides a good overview of the key issues, but also draws on, and evaluates, important recent scholarly literature. So, while the text itself is quite readable and should not be too daunting for a student or other non-specialist, a serious reader who pays attention to the footnotes will be introduced to many important scholarly studies. A third strength is that this book provides considered, critical reflection on some controversial topics, particularly the question of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy’ in early Christianity, and the development of the canon of Scripture. Kruger’s critical judgements reflect careful evaluation of the evidence and caution not to go beyond what the evidence allows.

This book offers an excellent orientation to study of the Second Century. Kruger notes on a number of occasions that he can only provide cursory comment on some issues, while others receive a bit more attention. This can hardly be judged a weakness; it is simply an inevitable reality. Nonetheless, readers who wish more extended treatments of the topics introduced here will have to explore some of the works identified in the bibliography.

I warmly encourage students and ministers, along with other interested readers, to read this book. Hopefully, Michael Kruger’s book will help to ensure that the Second Century is no longer (to use Larry Hurtado’s phrase, quoted on page 227) the ‘Cinderella Century’.
(Thanks to SPCK for providing a review copy of this book.)

Guidance for theological students on research

Kibbe From Topic to ThesisIt’s that time of year when life for me and my academic colleagues is dominated by marking essays. Students beginning their theological studies can often feel bemused regarding what they should be doing when it comes to written assignments. To help those in that position, IVP (USA) have just published an excellent little handbook entitled, From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research, written by Michael Kibbe of Moody Bible Institute – Spokane. This is a small-format paperback of less than 150 pages that can be read quickly and easily. Kibbe’s writing style is relaxed and reassuring but clear and orderly. Following an introduction in which the basic task is explained and key terms are defined, the book is composed of five main chapters and six appendices. The chapters address the following topics: ‘finding direction’, ‘gathering sources’, ‘understanding issues’, ‘entering discussion’, and ‘establishing position’.

As I read through this book, I found myself thinking to myself, ‘Yes, exactly!’ and ‘That’s what I keep telling my students!’

For example, one of the most challenging tasks for many students is to engage in ‘critical thinking’. Kibbe addresses ‘common research mistakes in interaction’ in an excursus (73-75):

Too much quoting. This is your paper, not a collection of quotes from others. … Excessive quoting will cause trouble in two ways. First it will lead you to believe that something is true simply because a certain prominent scholar says it is true. The value of a secondary source is in its interaction with the primary source, not in the pedigree of its author. Second, it will lead your professor to believe that you did not actually think about the issues at hand. You simply collected some opinions and put them into paragraph form. That is not the impression you want to leave!’

A few pages later (77), Kibbe offers comments on engaging in theological discussion in a paper:

Polite conversation in any setting has certain acceptable norms. One does not enter an already-ongoing conversation and immediately change the subject. One does not repeat verbatim what has already been said, nor does one discount prior statements without giving a reason for doing so. What one says on entering that conversation must be relevant and helpful to that conversation, or one’s place at the table will be called into question.

The same is true for your research paper. In short, … you need to have something to contribute to the discussion.

Kibbe’s book can help a student reach the point where they have something to contribute.

About one third of the book is composed of the appendices, which address various topics. The first is entitled, ‘Ten Things You Should Never Do in a Theological Research Paper’! You will have to read the book to discover what they are, and doubtless a few others might have been identified, but these are well-chosen and should certainly be avoided. Kibbe’s list provides a helpful diagnostic tool that may prevent some unfortunate errors.

I warmly recommend this little book to students (and not only beginning students – sometimes it takes a while for students to catch on to some of the ideas in this book!). Don’t just note this book in passing. Use it!

I would also recommend it to preachers and those who engage in theological writing. With appropriate adjustments made for the different genres of communication, the advice in this book might well bring new sharpness to sermon preparation and articles written for a general Christian readership.

[I am grateful to Inter-varsity Press for providing a copy of this book free of charge.]

Mission Studies and World Christianity Bibliography

This post is intended to encourage readers to develop their knowledge of mission studies and ‘World Christianity’ by providing a bibliography of useful resources. I have published the post at a relatively early stage of development and I will add to it as time allows. Some books may be listed more than once if they are relevant to several different categories. This is by no means an exhaustive bibliography. I have generally listed sources with which I have some familiarity. I have, however, included a few sources that I have not yet used but that are clearly important. I have also restricted the list to works available in English. Given the nature of World Christianity, this must inevitably exclude some works that deserve attention. If readers wish to suggest important titles that are only available in languages other than English, I would be happy to list such works also. Suggestions from readers are very welcome (thesethingsarewritten@gmail.com).

Where to begin (all highly recommended and accessible to any reader)

Escobar, Samuel. A Time for Mission: The Challenge for Global Christianity. Leicester: IVP, 2003.

Goheen, Michael W. Introducing Christian Mission Today. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Encountering Mission; 2nd edition; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015 [2004].

Peskett, Howard and Vinoth Ramachandra. The Message of Mission. Leicester: IVP, 2003.

Wright, Christopher J. H. The Mission of God’s People. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

Where to begin (Digital resources)

The Cape Town Commitment (Lausanne Movement. Available in various languages.)

Encountering Mission (Series)

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Encountering Mission; 2nd edition; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015 [2004].

Pocock, Michael, Gailyn van Rheenen, and Douglas McConnell. The Changing Face of World Missions. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Steffen, Tom. and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.

Muck, Terry and Frances S. Adeney. Christianity Encountering World Religions. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Ott, Craig and Stephen J. Strauss, with Timothy Tennent. Encountering Theology of Missions. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.

Terry, John Mark and J. D. Payne. Developing a Strategy for Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Cultural Introduction. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Moreau, A. Scott, Evvy Hay Campbell, and Susan Greener. Effective Intercultural Communication: A Christian Perspective. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014.

Terry, John Mark and Gallagher, Robert L. Encountering the History of Missions. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

Moon, W. Jay. Intercultural Discipleship: Learning from Global Approaches to Spiritual Formation. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017 [FORTHCOMING].

Missiological Engagements  (Series)

Fleet, John G. Apostolicity: The Ecumenical Question in World Christian Perspective. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

Sunquist, Scott W. Explorations in Asian Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017.

Sunquist, Scott W. and Amos Yong  (eds). The Gospel and Pluralism Today: Reassessing Lesslie Newbigin in the 21st Century. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015.

Van Engen, Charles E. The State of Missiology Today: Global Innovations in Christian Witness. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

Wrogemann, Henning. Intercultural Hermeneutics. Intercultural Theology, Volume 1; Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

Wrogemann, Henning. Theologies of Mission. Intercultural Theology, Volume 2; Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017.

Bible and Mission

For an extensive bibliography relating to Bible and Mission, see especially the Missional Hermeneutics Bibliography, curated by Michael Goheen and Tim Davy.

Ådna, Jostein and Hans Kvalbein (eds). The Mission of the Early Church to Jews and Gentiles. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000.

Bauckham, Richard J. Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World. Carlisle: Paternoster, 2003.

Bolt, Peter, and Mark Thompson (eds). The Gospel to the Nations: Perspectives on Paul’s Mission. Leicester: Apollos, 2000.

Flemming, Dean. Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission. Leicester: Apollos, 2005.

Gallagher, Robert L. and Paul Hertig (eds). Mission in Acts: Ancient Narratives in Contemporary Context. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004.

Goheen, Michael W. (ed.). Reading the Bible Missionally. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016.

Grams, Rollin G., I. Howard Marshall, Peter F. Penner, and Robin Routledge (eds). Bible and Mission. Swartzenfeld: Neufeld Verlag, 2008.

Hays, J. Daniel. From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race. New Studies in Biblical Theology; Downers Grove, IL/ Leicester, UK: IVP Academic/ Apollos, 2003.

Larkin, Jr., William J. and Joel F. Williams. Mission in the New Testament: An Evangelical Approach. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1999.

Schnabel, Eckhard. J. Early Christian Mission. Volume 1: Jesus and the Twelve. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004.

Schnabel, Eckhard. J. Early Christian Mission. Volume 2: Paul and the Early Church. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004.

Schnabel, Eckhard. J. Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008.

Wright, Christopher J. H. The Mission of God. Nottingham: IVP, 2006.

Mission History

Neill, Stephen. A History of Christian Missions. Revised Second Edition; London: Penguin, 1986 [1964].

Shaw, Ian J. Christianity: The Biography. London: IVP, 2016).

Stanley, Brian. Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018. [FORTHCOMING]

Sunquist, Scott W. The Unexpected Christian Century. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Terry, John Mark and Gallagher, Robert L. Encountering the History of Missions. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

Walls, Andrew F. Crossing Cultural Boundaries: Studies in the History of World Christianity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2017.

Walls, Andrew F. The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2002.

Walls, Andrew F. The Mission Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of the Faith. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996.

Mission Theology

Bavinck, Johan Herman. An Introduction to the Science of Missions. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1960.

Bevans, Stephen B. And Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004.

Bolt, John, James D. Bratt, and Paul J. Visser (eds). The J. H. Bavinck Reader. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013.

Bosch, David. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1991.

Conn, Harvie M. Eternal Word and Changing Worlds: Theology, Anthropology, and Mission in Trialogue. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1984.

Dowsett, Rose (ed.). Global Mission: Reflections and Case Studies in Contextualization for the Whole Church. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2013.

Gallagher, Robert L. and Paul Hertig (eds). Contemporary Mission Theology: Engaging the Nations. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2017.

Hill, Graham. GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

Kwiyani, Harvey C. Sent Forth: African Missionary Work in the West. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2014.

Maggay, Melba Padilla. Global Kingdom, Global People: Living Faithfully in a Multicultural World. Carlisle: Langham Global Library, 2017.

Newbigin, Lesslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. London: SPCK, 1989.

Newbigin, Lesslie. The Open Secret.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978.

Ott, Craig and Harold A. Netland (eds). Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

Ott, Craig (ed). The Mission of the Church: Five Views in Conversation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016.

Saayman, Willem. and Klippies Kritzinger (eds). Mission in Bold Humility.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996.

Sanneh, Lamin. Translating the Message. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2009 [1989].

Sexton, Jason (ed.). Four Views on the Church’s Mission. Counterpoints: Bible and Theology; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.

Sexton, Jason and Paul Weston. The End of Theology: Shaping Theology for the Sake of Mission. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2016.

Stinton, Diane B. (ed). African Theology on the Way: Current Conversations. London: SPCK, 2010.

Stroope, Michael W. Transcending Mission: The Eclipse Of A Modern Tradition. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017.

Sunquist, Scott W. Understanding Christian Mission: Participation in Suffering and Glory. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Tennent, Timothy, Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century. Invitation to Theological Studies Series; Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2010.

Van Engen, Charles. Transforming Mission Theology. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2017.

Van Engen, Charles, Dean S. Gilliland, and Paul Pierson. The Good News of the Kingdom: Mission Theology for the Third Millennium. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock 1999 [Orbis, 1993].

Walls, Andrew F. and Cathy Ross (eds). Mission in the 21st Century: Exploring the Five Marks of Mission. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2008.

Theology of Religion

Cotterell, Peter. Mission and Meaninglessness: The Good News in a World of Suffering and Disorder. London: SPCK, 1990.

Glaser, Ida. The Bible and Other Faiths: What Does the Lord Require of Us? Carlisle: Langham Global Library, 2004.

Glaser, Ida, with Hannah Kay. Thinking Biblically About Islam: Genesis, Transfiguration, Transformation. Carlisle: Langham Global Library, 2016.

Muck, Terry and Frances S. Adeney. Christianity Encountering World Religions. Encountering Mission; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Netland, Harold A. Christianity and Religious Diversity: Clarifying Christian Commitments in a Globalizing Age.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Netland, Harold A. Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth. Leicester: Apollos, 1991.

Strange, Daniel. ‘For Their Rock Is Not As Our Rock’: An Evangelical Theology of Religions. Nottingham: Apollos, 2014.

Church Planting

Paas, Stefan. Church Planting in the Secular West. GOCS; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016.

Stetzer, Ed. and Daniel Im. Planting Missional Churches. Second Edition. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016.

World Christianity

Adeney, Miriam. Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Bediako, Kwame. Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995.

Burrows, William R., Mark R. Gornick, and Janice A. McLean. Understanding World Christianity: The Vision and Work of Andrew F. Walls. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2011.

Greenman, Jeffrey P. and Gene L. Green. Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective: Exploring the Contextual Nature of Theology and Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012.

Hill, Graham. GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom. Third Edition; Oxford: OUP, 2011.

Johnson, Todd M., Rodney L. Peterson, Gina A. Bellofatto, and Travis L. Myers (eds). The Changing Contours of World Mission and Christianity. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011.

Johnson, Todd M. and Cindy M. Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Kim, Sebastian and Kirsteen Kim. Christianity as a World Religion: An Introduction. Second edition; London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Rah, Soong-Chan. The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural CaptivityDowners Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Sanneh, Lamin. Summoned from the Margins: Homecoming of an African. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012.

Sanneh, Lamin and Joel A. Carpenter. The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World. Oxford: OUP, 2005.

Sanneh, Lamin and Michael J. McClymond. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to World Christianity. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2016.

Walls, Andrew F. Crossing Cultural Boundaries: Studies in the History of World Christianity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2017.

Winter, Ralph D. and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Fourth Edition; Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009.


Kraft, Charles H. Anthropology for Christian Witness. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996.

Kraft, Charles H. Christianity in Culture. 25th Anniversary Edition; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2005 [1979].

Member Care

Hay, Rob,  et alWorth Keeping: Global Perspectives on Best Practice in Missionary Retention. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2007. [Available on WEA web site: Worth Keeping]

O’Donnell, Kelly. Global Member Care. Volume 1: The Pearls and Perils of Good Practice. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2011.

O’Donnell, Kelly and Michèle L. O’Donnell. Global Member Care. Volume 2: Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2013.

Partnership/ Finance/ Poverty Relief

Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2012 [2009].

Johnson, Andy. Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017.

Digital Resources

World Evangelical Alliance Resources

Regnum Edinburgh 2010 Series (Digital versions of many volumes may be downloaded free of charge.)

Lists on other blogs or web sites

Several people have responded to my post with further suggestions on their own blogs or have pointed to lists on their web sites. Rather than add many items to my own list (a number of which I have not used personally), I am providing links to these lists here. I am sure that there are more such lists and I may add others in due course.

Eddie Arthur’s Suggestions

Justin Long’s List

Mark Pickett’s Suggestions