Entering the "Missional/ Pomo/ Emerging/ Younger Evangelical/ Red Letter Christians /New Monastic" Conversation

UPDATE!!!!! JAN 29, 09:

I realized this morning that I had accidentally failed to put a book on the list, that in my opinion is going to become quite important to the conversation. I would put it somewhere towards the beginning of the list, as it gives a great introduction into several of the themes (especially in regards to the Gospel). The list below was meant for someone who was entering that conversation who has either a limited Christian background or has a more traditional evangelical upbringing. So, without further adieu, the missing book is: True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In; James Choung.

The following is a list of books that I put together that I would suggest to someone who is interested in the “Missional/Pomo/Emerging/Younger Evangelical/Red Letter Christians/ New Monastic” Conversation. There are certainly other titles that could be on the list, but this just my suggestion to anyone who would be interested. I also have been a bit intentional about the order although I am sure some of this could be switched around as well. If you were going to give a similar list, what would it look like? Or, what are your thoughts on this?

1. God’s Shalom Project, Bernhard Ott
2. Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne

3. A Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell
4. Simply Christian, N.T. Wright
5. A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren
6. Embracing Grace, Scot McKnight
7. Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell & Don Golden
8. Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright
9. Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, Walsh and Keesmaat
10. The New Christians, Tony Jones
11. A New Kind of Christian Series
12. Jesus For President, Shane Claiborne
13. Red Letter Christians, Tony Campolo
14. Whose Afraid of Postmodernism, James Smith
15. The Blue Parakeet, Scot McKnight

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  • Tim

    Hey Kurt,
    I would add both of Pete Rollins books to the list. I think he has a clear and heady voice worth listening to.
    I also think Generous Orthodoxy is McLaren’s best work (he’s not my favorite, but still helpful).
    The Fuller bookstore (where I work) just created an ’emerging church’ section because, as my boss put it, “it doesn’t seem to be going away.”

  • Thanks for your thoughts Tim. I haven’t read Rollins books, but from what I have heard about them; I am almost certain that I would agree with you. And, I think your right… it doesn’t seem to be going away.

  • Nice list Kurt, I think these works would do well in bringing someone more or less up to date with the direction these movements are taking.
    Two books I think could be worth adding would be N.T. Wright’s “The Last Word” on the use and authority of Scripture, since so much of the newer movements in the Church are in the end the results of hermeneutical changes. And also “The Mission of God” by Christopher Wright for a deeper Biblical foundation for Missional.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I have read both books and recommend both of them. Because I was trying to keep my list down to 15 and trying to keep the reading load at an average level, I had to omit those two. They would be on my long list!!!!! Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Jon


    Great list. I’m not familiar with 1 and 13 (is this an odd addition?), I know Tony Campolo’s theological bearings, its just the title of the book. What is ‘Red Letter Christians’ about?

    I would add ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ by Hirsch & Frost and ‘Emerging Church’ by Dan Kimball here. Well just my two cents anyway.

    I’d agree with Mason on N.T.Wright’s “The Last Word”!

  • I should have added Kimball’s book… but in all honesty, i have never read it (no way…i know, wierd huh). I have seen him present the material in seminar format for this book and his follow up (Emerging Worship), so i am aware of its contents.
    As for “the Shape of Things to Come” I have not had the oppertunity to read that, although I would really like to because you have spoken highly of it and i seem to keep coming across it in other things i read. When Seminary slows down or it is a textbook, then i am sure i will get to it!
    Tony Campolo’s book is good, especially if you want to get a feel for Christians in politics in the American Context (those of us who are unsatisfied with the extreme conservative right!). He deals directly with Abortion, Gun Control, Gay Marriage, Ecology, War in Iraq, etc. He claims to do so using the red letters, the words of Jesus as a guide. Good book for any curious about engaging in politics in my context. Unless you are really interested in these things, i would rather you read shane claiborne’s Jesus for President!
    Finally, the book at the begining of the list is written by an Anabaptist theologian in an easy to read format. For anyone who is not familiar with the concept of reading the bible as a grand narrative, this is the first book to get them comfortable with the concept. In my opinion, this book can make room for the view of the bible that most emergents lean towards. It is not a well known book at all, although i would highly recommend it! Very quick and easy read…

  • Jon

    Tony Campolo’s book sounds interesting. Although the political context is Amarican political issues that is. I ‘blame’ the emergent/emerging conversation for making me interested in politics. In Malaysia there is little christian reflection on politics. As for ‘Jesus For President’, my girlfriend has the book. I’ll probably read it after she is done with it.

    I jut put the first book on you list on my wish list. It’s funny for me to hear that you haven’t read Dan Kimball’s book. You can’t read them all right? haha. But I’ll probably check no.9 first. The title does have a striking spark to it. You don’t normally find Colossians and Remixed together thats for sure.

  • You will like God’s Shalom project. As for kimball, I like the guy a lot… I always go to his seminars when i get the oppertunity and someday i will try to read the book. He has another helpful book called, “They Like Jesus but not the Church.” I am currently taking a group of teenagers through the small group bible study version!

    I would say this about Colossians Remixed. It has made a tremendous impact on me spiritually during the past year or so. The two authors were inspiried to write the book after taking a class on Colossians from Tom Wright. He endorses the book. I would put it in the ‘top’ five books that i have read category (remember, this list is an order that i would recommend someone with NO background in these areas read… not order of importance to me personally). It deals with Postmodernism, globalization, interpretation from a 1st century perspective with 21st century applications, and empire… You wont be able to put it down! I especially recommend it since you are currently doing some reflection in the area of christian social action and politics. You also will not want to miss out on Jesus for President!

  • N.T. Wright certainly impacted my theology around eight years ago, through “The Challenge of Jesus.” And Scot McKnight has since helped me. I need to read more of Shane Claiborne. And I’m sure all the books on your list would be good reads (I’ve read four of them- all very good!). I love “The Blue Parakeet.”

  • Jon

    Now that you’ve updated the list with “True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In” it explains why it was missing from our list. I don’t have the book but i heard it was good. Sort of like a ‘complete’ explanation of the gospel, not just a narrow view that people are saved to go to heaven. This book has been on my wish list ever since Scot McKnight blogged about it but I haven’t got the chance to have my hand on it yet.

  • Hey Kurt,

    Just found you after you commented on my blog. . .I would recommend you add Greg Boyd to your list with two works:

    1) Myth of a Christian Nation . . . an excellent treatise on the American conflation of faith and politics; and

    2) God of the Possible . . . An even-more-controversial (yet scrupulously biblical) introduction to the concept of “Open Theology.”



  • If I were to make such a list…

    1. Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell

    2. Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

    3. A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren

    4. Radical Reformission, Mark Driscoll

    5. UnChristian, David Kinnaman, Gabe Lyons, Shane Claiborne

    6. This Beautiful Mess…, Rick McKinley

    7. Starving Jesus, Craig Gross

    8. Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World, Justin Taylor, John Piper

    9. Prodigal God, Tim Keller

    My list may not be as pomo/emerging as you might prefer, but if the Gospel isn’t foundational, it will all fall through, right?

    *Haven’t read #9 yet, but I just got it in the mail. Having heard him preach this message, though, has been life-changing for me.

  • Great list. How come you did not include the two books you suggested to me when I mentioned trying to understand the arguments for disbelieving in substitutional atonement? I’m guessing those books (something like “The Scandal of the Cross”) aren’t holistic in their approach or perspective of Christianity? Maybe that’s it. Or maybe they are just not as good as the ones you mentioned.

    Also you seem to have a good handle on many parts of Christianity, enjoying worship, and exploring the Holy Spirit and the gifts. That’s cool to be a “well-rounded” mix. Ha ha!

    Ok, thanks. And love your posts. I definitely post on Christianity and love to talk about it, but my posts are more scattered and varied discussing many things with my life in South Africa. Every single one of your posts is quite interesting (theologically) and hard-hitting (substantive). Thanks.

  • Hi Victor! I have been to your blog a few times but I feel like you haven’t been posting much lately. Glad to have you back here though! In regards to the books I suggested on the atonement, i view those as much more advanced, where this list of books is an “introduction” or a way to catch up with the ’emerging’ or missional conversation.

    Thanks for you complements! I do feel that i have been influenced by various streams of the faith. To be honest, I simply want to be a New Testament follower of Jesus! And yes, I am a bit of a charismatic… not by tradition, but rather through experiences and discovery.

    I will come by your site again in the near future and hopefully I will hear some more ‘dispatches from south africa!’ Blessings!