Seven books on mission

Chris Howles

The past decade has seen an explosion in writings about world mission. From complex academic monster-books to short and simple introductions, there is something for everyone to grow in their understanding of (and passion for) God’s mission in the world today.

I try to read as many mission-related books as I can – but even then I only scratch the surface. I’ve put together this short list of what I think are some of the best. It’s not all-encompassing – there are many books out there that I’ve heard are excellent but I’ve not got to yet. I limited myself to seven (it was hard!) and ordered them by level – the most accessible are at the top and the more challenging (for those who wish to stretch themselves) are at the bottom.

(1) Mission Matters by Tim Chester

This book does an excellent job of introducing not just the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of mission but also the ‘why’. Focussing on God’s love for his Son through the Spirit and how that same love cascades through God’s people into the world, British author Tim Chester enthuses and equips Christians to participate with God in his witness in his world.

(2) A Time for Mission by Samuel Escobar

Leading Latin American missiologist Samuel Escobar wrote this in 2003 and it remains a brilliant and insightful read. Escobar explores the central role of the church in mission as part of its very being.

(3) Introducing Christian Mission Today by Michael Goheen

My favourite ‘one-volume’ introduction to Christian mission today. American professor Michael Goheen writes wonderfully on mission history, mission in the Bible and the theology of mission, as well as on practical issues such as contextualisation, unreached people and world religions. This book is a worthy read as a clear, helpful and rewarding overview of a huge topic. 

(4) The Missionary-Theologian by E.D. Burns

E. D. Burns argues for the stronger integration of theological rigour into applied missions practice. Reading this book will almost certainly provoke thought, precipitate change, produce growth and – most importantly – refresh and encourage you in the perfect worthiness of Jesus Christ and the privilege of knowing him and making him known. 

(5) Encountering Theology of Mission by Craig Ott and Stephen Strauss

Understanding what mission is, where it comes from, who it’s for, why we participate in it and how it takes place, is crucial to anyone who wishes to be thoughtfully engaged in God’s mission today. This accessible yet stretching book helps to answer such huge questions carefully and biblically. 

(6) The Mission of God by Christopher Wright

One of the most widely discussed mission-related books of recent decades, British missions leader Chris Wright wrote this enormous 600-page book to show how the Old Testament (so often neglected in mission thinking) is essential for understanding God’s missionary heart. Whether or not you agree with every page, you cannot fail to learn, grow and deepen in your scriptural understanding and missions convictions by reading this. 

(7) Missions from the Majority World by Enoch Wan and Michael Pocock

Much of the numerical growth and spiritual vitality in the world Church today is found in the majority world (or ‘global south’). And so to understand missions today, we must think of missionaries from outside ‘traditional’ sending countries! This book shows how these mission movements are growing across the world and impacting on the world.

Hear more of what Chris has to say about global mission

Chris is doing a PhD in Missiology and shared some of his insights into global mission in an episode of the Crosslinks podcast.

Listen now