Bart asked a great question in a recent post about They Like Jesus But Not the Church. His question was: If you only had time to read book on “emergent” what would it be?
I wanted to answer this question as a separate post because I am hoping more of you will notice the discussion and contribute your ideas. So, what one book would you recommend on emergent if you could only recommend one?
I am going to immediately break my own rule, because I can see a few different ways of coming at this. So here is the one book I would recommend if you wanted to learn more about emergent but you only had time to read one book:
- They Like Jesus But Not the Church by Dan Kimball. I think this books is just a great book, so I want everyone to read it. But I think it also lets you inside Dan Kimball’s heart. It lets you see why the whole emergent conversation matters. I have to confess that this book doesn’t really explicitly deal with emergent at all, so if you are trying to learn about what emerging folks believe, etc., this is not the one book you should read about emergent. But it should be the one book you read to learn about how to better love people who are outside of the church.
- A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. My perception is that this is one of the books that really started to gain attention and build momentum for the emerging church movement. This books describes a conversation between a pastor who is close to burnout and someone who helps him rediscover his calling. I have to be honest and say that most of the books I have read like this were somewhat frustrating for me because I wanted them to be a little more concrete. I much preferred McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy and The Secret Message of Jesus.
So that is my .02. I am sure that there are other folks out there who have an opinion. What one book about emergent would you recommend if you could only recommend one book?
You can also find more resources at Emergent Village, Dan Kimball’s website, or Brian McLaren’s website.
i don’t know if it would be my “quick-and-dirty-comprehensive-introduction” to ’emergent,’ but mclaren’s latest, everything must change is a very important book for the emergents. i view it as a companion or maybe even a sequel to the secret message of jesus. both books may prove to be mclaren’s most important works.
as for the one volume guide i’d have to go with his generous orthodoxy. it seems to best capture and crystallize the emergent ethos. but if you’re looking for a guide to emergent praxis aforementioned works are the best i’ve seen.
i would have to say that the one emergent book i would probably suggest is kimball’s ’emerging church’ all the books you reference are very good, as well as blakes reference to ‘everything must change’ i’d agree with his assessment. i thought ’emerging church’ was a good primer, covering the basic tenants of the emerging church ie. post-modernism, worship, mission, etc. he has some of the same stories/characters that he does in ‘they like jesus but not the church’ though i think the stories hurt a bit more in ‘tljbntc.’ what isn’t on the main thorough fair of emergent books, but is an excellent emergent book is “the practicing congregation” by diana butler bass or “postmodern parish” by jim kitchens. both books are by alban press so they feel very similar. jim actually was going to call his book ’emerging church’ but kimball’s book came out first.
I think McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy is pretty good. While I know that Rob Bell isn’t (nor do he seem to want to be as far as I can tell) really affiliated with the emerging church movement, I think Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith was pretty good as well. I am in the process of reading An Emergent Manifesto of Hope and it’s got some good stuff in there from folks like McLaren and Kimball, to name a few. And the stuff that’s kind of “bleah” will be over in a few pages since the book is short 10-20 page essays on misc. things emergent.
Kevin Watson said:
Blake – Thanks for the response. I have not had a chance to read Everything Must Change, but I am hoping to get to soon. I really enjoyed both The Secret Message of Jesus and Generous Orthodoxy.
Gavin – I have not read Kimball’s Emerging Church, but have read Emerging Worship. I may have to check that out too, based on your recommendation. The Practicing Congregation and Postmodern Parish both sound good too. Thanks for weighing in.
Brad – I have to say I love Rob Bell. His Nooma videos have spoken to our youth group in ways that nothing else we have tried has even compared to. He just grabs them every time. I read Emergent Manifesto of Hope and really enjoyed several of the essays. I even post several reactions as I was reading the book on this blog. Thanks for stopping by and contributing!
Bart – I think there is more wisdom in these comments than I could have given you alone. I hope you find it helpful.
And I hope more of you will weigh in with your suggestion – if you had to recommend one book to give someone a grasp of emergent, what book would it be?
In addition to the other good suggestions, I like Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger.
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All these do a fine job of explaining the emergent church. Their heresy is pretty rank, especially in MacLaren. He I think is doing more to help Bible-believing Christians understand this dangerous universalist pseudo-Christianity.