10 Essential Books on Missions
I had a lot of students borrowing books from my library this summer while they were serving in the refugee camps. Several requested that I come up with a book list of the most helpful books…
Here are 10 of the best books that I own on the topic of missions. (in no particular order) Click on the links to find them in Amazon, most of them a pretty reasonably priced.
This book will challenge all western Christians view of Muslims, that is too often skewed by a worldly perspective seeped in hate instead of love. It is a mix of History, research, and compelling stories. It’s packed with crucial information for anyone interested in sharing the truth of the gospel with their Muslim friends.
A Wind in the house of Islam gives a voice to those who have stepped away from Islam to embrace Jesus Christ. You will hear stories of how God is at work in these places. The information is not an end in itself, but it informs us so that we can better participate with God as he works in these places. It is also a very encouraging book for Muslim background believers, it would be a great gift to them.
The problem: the great commission is too big for us to accomplish alone. Steve Saint (son of martyr Nate Saint) addresses some of the solutions in this book including collaboration, finding & training the workers in the harvest, and many other out of the box ideas. Not all believers can or should be missionaries but every believer…has a place in missions. The book mixes cutting edge missiology mixed with stories from distant cultures, it is a fun but challenging read.
I mean, I don’t know what else can be said about this book. It sets a missiological and theological foundation for what missions is and why it is necessary. Probably the most famous modern missiological book. Here is a quote to whet your missional appetite.
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions. It’s the goal of missions. Because in missions, we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory.”
This book is a primer for the new missionary storyteller. It helps you pull out of your methodological ruts and move into church planting strategies using storying. It has also been helpful to troubleshoot the storying that you are doing. As well as an excellent primary source for training storytellers. A MUST for those working with Oral peoples!
I wouldn’t say that this book is about missions per se, but in many cases, it has led people into a life devoted to the nations. Contemplating a wasted life tends to inspire people to go to the edge and leverage the few years that they have been given to do something meaningful and impactful for the kingdom. I loved this book, it is Piper doing what he does best, calling the church out for their cultural idolatry and compelling people to give their very lives in service of our Savior.
This book WILL challenge you! While the Vietnam war was raging, Sam James and his family stayed in Vietnam to minister to the needs and be light in the darkest of places. This book answers the question as to who God is and who a person can be when life is lived consciously in His presence. It is a riveting story, you won’t be able to put it down, and it will make you think about your life and if you are living it to the fullest to advance the kingdom of Christ or if you are holding back.
When I first read this book, it blew my mind! This book had a HUGE surprise twist that absolutely made the book. It helped me to see that mission work is not as easy as maybe I thought it would be. Missionary life requires a missionary to know the gospel story inside and out and then also know the culture you are living in intimately so that you can best communicate the truth of the gospel in an understandable way. It also taught me about going back to the drawing board when things don’t work. Get back in there and figure it out. You will love it!
I’ve read this book so many times I’ve had to buy multiple copies, all of them have folded page corners, underlines, and highlights. I love this book because you get a glimpse into the heart of a missionary. You get to see the passion and zeal, but also the doubts and questions. You get to have a look into the study and reading habits of Jim Elliot and even hear of his family life. This book was the one that opened my eyes to what it really means to be a missionary and the level of spiritual and emotional dedication that it requires.
When I first went to the mission field, I had like many others a case of the Savior Complex. I thought that I was bringing knowledge of the one true God to a remote tribe. But what I found when I got there was that He had been there all along. Leaving a trail and preparing them to hear the “rest of the story” In this book, Don Richardson, explores many different cultures and how God left a key for us to use to open the gospel to them in a way that communicates deeply and appropriately with their worldview. You will finish this book with a greater desire to know and study culture, and you will also grow in your appreciation for God’s sovereignty and the magnitude of his Global Strategy.
Cutting edge! Roland Allen is way before his time. This book is a MUST for any missionary strategist. If you are a big-picture person and you are interested in using methodologies because they are Biblical AND effective, not just using the latest missiological fads, this is the book for you. Using Paul’s missionary journeys and writings, you will begin to see patterns that helped Paul to be successful in his missionary endeavors, and you will learn how you can also adopt those strategies in your own ministry. But before you get too excited, I should warn you that Mr. Allen is probably going to step on your toes a bit and ask some tough questions. But these are questions that need to be discussed and thought through as we are developing strategy today.
If you liked this list let me know and I will post more, I would also love to hear your favorites.
Admittedly, my book does not reach the level of essential like the rest of this list. But if you haven’t read it yet, it might be worth a quick read. The Mentor/Apprentice relationship is a game changer for every missionary. Those who get a good start with mentorship tend to have significantly more success than those who do not. So, pick up Letters to an Apprentice on Amazon, it is available in paperback or kindle.