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Urbana Onward -- great books about world missions (and more!) 20% OFF

I would hope that most readers of BookNotes have heard of Urbana, the spectacularly largeurbana 12.jpg student mission conference put on by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship every three years.  We have never been there -- Jubilee in Pittsburgh is the big student conference we help with each year -- but there is little doubt that there is no single event that has over time created so much good in the world.  From inspiring students to go into missionary church planting or to work in relief and development, from encouraging campus leaders and missionaries alike to grapple with big questions around racism, sexism and nationalism to encouraging students to think about their chosen careers as potent for global mission, much good work as come from this big event. It started in 1946 and since then hundreds of thousands of young adults have made new or re-commitments to Christian faith, to radical discipleship and to global concern. Such generative impact, as far as I know, is simply unparalleled. 

It seems to me that Urbana represents much of what is best about the evangelical tradition.  I

Urbana-Speakers-09.jpg am sure they don't get everything right and I'm sure there are speakers (there are hundreds of workshops!) with whom I might disagree (and with whom you would disagree.)  But from their remarkable prayer meetings, their multi-ethnic sensitivities in worship and programming, and their energetic and wholistic vision of Christ's work in the world, we can all be glad that besides actually catapulting many into global service, the event's ethos and literally world-class speakers have generated very good discussions that reverberate back at IV chapters on campuses and mission agencies all over the world.  

F1cor.jpgollowing the important missiological principles of the Lausanne Movement and consultations, the gospel vision of Urbana is wholistic and multi-faceted. (See the important and wonderful collection of papers and sermons from the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, happily published by IVP earlier this year.  It is called Christ Our Reconciler: Gospel, Church, World  edited by Julia E. M. Cameron;  $18.00.) 

Urbana has inspired stunning amounts of humanitarian work in the developing world and all sorts of justice advocacy and creation care initiatives in the name of Jesus.  Mainline churches who emphasize social action leading to economic transformation and conservative churches who emphasize evangelism and church planting leading to spiritual growth both can take notice how Urbana brings together word and deed, witness and work, prayer and public justice.  It is a world missions conference but they have this missional vision of the reign of God that allows them to see the significance of thinking wisely about culture, nurturing the Christian mind, discussing questions of vocation and calling in the marketplace, and affirming all manner of creative, indigenous efforts for global mission.

One of the best publishers, we often say, is InterVarsity Press and astute readers will know when an Urbana conference is coming up -- in those years, IVP releases several good books in the late fall about global concern, world mission, and resources they will feature at the big conference.  Beth and I spend a lot of our time setting up (and tearing down) book displays at gatherings and conferences but we cannot imagine the work going into the big Urbana book display.  (It isn't as, ahem, diverse as a Hearts & Minds display might be -- they are a singular publisher, after all, not a shop that stocks hundreds of different publishers.)  But we've heard about their work, admire their on-site bookstore and the guy who stands up and does exciting book plugs, Greg Jao, is legendary. I sometimes joke that I want to be like him someday.  Maybe Greg and I should have a "book announcement" showdown.  Ha.  (More on Greg and his new book, below!)

Anyway, you should rejoice with us -- and ponder, if you are in Christian leadership -- that IVCF and IVP so believe in reading, encourage the practice and discipline of book buying as part of discipleship, and help the Christian community have access to such an array of thoughtful, well-written, and culturally-relevant books rooted in historic orthodox faith. Some conservatives have criticized them for occasionally pushing envelopes in how to faithfully live out the implications of the gospel in our globalized world, but is to their credit.  No publisher balanced evangelical clarity and edgy contemporary application as well as and as consistently as IVP and we are glad for their good work that culminates in the big bookselling push at their Urbana conference.


Here are a few of the recent IVP books that came out over the last months, a tell-tale sign that it was nearly Urbana missions conference time.  Since you most likely did not attend this massive event, why not pick up a couple of books, maybe donate them to your church library, and recommit yourself in the upcoming months to recall the Great Commission and the excitement of faith nurturing with not just a Christian worldview, but a Christian view of the whole wide world.  Reading about world missions, I am sure, can only help deepen our discipleship and make us more effective as God's servants wherever we find ourselves.

(Our next BookNotes blog post in a day or so will describe some other mission-related books from other publishers, who have also offered some fantastic, important resources. ) 

We are happy to stock these books and offer them to you now at a 20% discount.

W1 what j.jpghat Jesus Started: Joining the Movement Changing the World  Steve Addison (IVP) $15.00  I don't think I can recommend a better book - good for beginners or those more advanced - that documents, explores, teases out and calls us to enact the New Testament basis for mission.  It looks specifically (and with exciting insight) at Jesus' own methodology.  Many authors have surveyed the sending of the 12, the Great Commission strategy and such, but this brings vibrant insights, coupled with great stories.  Endorsements on the back include good ones by Alan Hirsch (Addision is from Australia), Neil Cole, J.R. Woodward. Addison and his wife lead MOVE, a mission agency devoted to training and deploying workers who become the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities.  He wrote the previous, and also recommended, Movements That Changed the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel (IVP.)

Wwestern christians in g m.pngestern Christians in Global Mission: What's the Role of the North American Church? Paul Borthwick (IVP) $15.00  We live in a religiously different world than even a few decades ago -- we know this.  Many of us have read Philip Jenkins, for instance, or Soong-Chan Rah.  As it says on the back cover of this interesting new work, "There are now more Christians in China than in all of Europe, more Pentecostals in Brazil than in the US, and more Anglicans in Kenya than in the UK, Canada and the US combined. Countries that were once destinations for Western missionaries are now sending their own missionaries to North America."  Wow, this is fascinating stuff.

Paul Borthwick is one of the best mission educators of which we know. He knows what he's talking about, and has been tireless in traveling and interpreting all sorts of missionary endeavors, all over the planet.  Whenever asked for a good, intro mission book, we start with his small How to Be a World-Class Christian (IVP.)  And everybody should read his Six Dangerous Questions to Transform Your View of the World (IVP.)  Borthwick's vast experience all over the globe has placed him in a good position to think through this question. Most of us, and certainly most serious mission groups, know enough to be against paternalism or building unhealthy dependency; most everybody resists neo-colonialism as best they can.  For the most part, long gone are the days caricatured in books like The Poisonwood Bible.  But what is the best role of North American missionaries, and how might sending churches be more involved in building collaboration and reciprocity in the global support?  There has been much written about this (for decades, actually, starting with important work by the World Council of Churches a half a century ago, for instance, and, in the evangelical world, in the pioneering work of the Lausanne documents.)  This new book, though, is up to date and exceptionally insightful, making it a must read for serious thinkers in missions. As one Kenyan pastor writes, "It is encouraging to see a number of Western mission agencies building multicultural teams that are a reflection of the face of what God is doing in the Christian scene today. This book turns our gaze to this direction and I heartily recommend it."  Or, as the International Director of the respected Langham Partnership, Chris J.H. Wright puts it, "One of the best and most helpful books on the global realities of world missions..."

Mmaking all things new moore.pngaking All Things New: God's Dream for Global Justice  R. York Moore (IVP) $15.00  I so respect this author and enjoy his passionate preaching, storytelling, and writing.  I like him for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because he relentlessly brings together the verbal proclamation of the gospel -- he has the gift of evangelism alongside his gift of gab -- with serious, systemic and engaged awareness of the need to fight social injustices.  There are very moving stories here, amazing stuff about his advocacy resisting slavery and sexual trafficking issues, for instance.  As I explained in a longer review I did when the book first came out (over at Comment magazine) this is, actually, a study of the book of Revelation.  Yes, York reminds us that knowing how the story ends -- being clear about God's dream of restoring the world he so loves -- helps us remain focused and hopeful.  This is a very moving book by a tireless activist and evangelist.  Very, very highly recommended. 

York was one of the keynote, plenary speakers at Urbana three years ago, which indicates the caliber of communicator he is, and the integrity of his work.  You can watch a portion a talk he gave, here, hearing how he came to faith, and came to learn that justice is an integral part of the gospel.  Watch more of an evangelistic sermon, including a very clear, if creative, altar call, here.  Notice how he starts talking about a book he read as a kid and his passion to help people come to Christ in that huge auditorium!)

Sshort-term-mission-ethnography-christian-travel-narrative-experience-brian-m-howell-paperback-cover-art.jpghort-Term Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience Brian M. Howell (IVP Academic) $20.00  Howell is a professor of anthropology  at Wheaton College and here has done something that has been just crying out to be done - a serious, but wonderfully written, exciting and illuminating account of what happens when people go on short term mission trips.  The opening pages hooked me with a notable story, highlighting the numbers of (and impact upon) churched kids who have traveled and served all over the world (in contrast to their secular counterparts who are often insular and unaware of global geography.) Going on a short trip can be "religious tourism" and can be counter-productive for the host countries and for those going.  Howell does not avoid these very important questions, and his balanced critique is important.  But the e heart of this book is the emphasis on the narratives, and how, therefore, to prepare well and unpack these life-changing experiences.  Team leader?  Missions coordinator?  Supporter of those going?  Regular short-termer?  You need to read this. As Jenell Williams Paris  (an anthropologist who teaches at Messiah College) says, "Short-Term Mission is an essential resource...Howell is an expert guide, offering the wisdom of a devout Christian, the education of an anthropologist, and the experience of a short term missionary."  This is research-based, but, like most ethnography writers, includes fabulous stories and great advice for applying his findings.

TThis-Ordinary-Adventure-Cover1.jpghis Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down without Settling  Christine Jeske & Adam Jeske (IVP) $15.00  I raved about this when it arrived early this fall, and it was maybe the first IVP book that reminded me that this was an upcoming Urbana year.  What does a young person do when she wants to make a difference in the world?  What does a young couple do when they feel called to world missions?  And, how do they do that globe-trotting activist stuff when they also want to settle down, maybe have kids, get a degree, care about their own local place?  Can one "think globally and act locally" but also (this is my dumb interpretation of their fascinating and upbeat book) do the opposite, as well - that is, can one act globally but think locally?  Can we settle down without losing our passion for justice?  How can we make a home and still be willing to go and do whatever God inspires us to do?  I bet you know people of any age who struggle with this, and I bet you know missionaries, or missionary wanna-bees, who would so love reading these touching stories of global action, world concern, and - amidst doing community development in Latin America, China, and Africa - finding a home "in the land of malls and manicured lawns."  Can God show up in the "ruts and routines" of dicing celery at home, just as God was so powerful present as they worked in micro-financing, or rode motorcycles across Africa?  Is there something adventuresome in the ordinary?  Can we settle down, but not settle?  Buy a few of these and share them widely.  Somebody you know needs to be reminded of this, finding peace with staying home. And somebody you know needs permission to take off.

Sstrangers.jpgtrangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission  J.D. Payne (IVP) $15.00  There are other good books that study immigration and the needed policy discussions for those interested in public justice.  IVP did our favorite, in fact (Welcoming the Stranger.)  This, though, is a bit different, studying the whole phenomenon of migration, God seeming to orchestrate new opportunities, Kingdom expansion, new people groupings and ways to reach new unreached subculture.  This looks at students on the move, refugees on the move and a bit of history of all that.  Yes, it offers guidelines for reaching "strangers next door" and it offers up-to-the-minute updates on unreached people groups in North America (and other parts of the West.) Payne calls for a "diaspora missiology" making this a new angle on outreach and missionary thinking.

Ggo and do everts.jpgo and Do: Becoming a Missional Christian  Don Everts (IVP) $15.00  I have shown this to many groups I've talked with this fall and reviewed it previously and I remain enthusiastic.  It illustrates a great insight -- we must combine who we are and what we do, character and obedience, so to speak.  The first four chapters are beautifully written and I thought very, very compelling, as Everts explains (with tender stories of his own funky life) who we are called to be.  How do we see, feel, think?  Do we share God's own view of the world?  How can we be spiritually formed in ways that shape us to be those kind of people?  And, then, the second half, explores in very inspiring prose, just where we are to share God's love (in word and deed.)  He works with concentric circles, noting that we must remind ourselves and our families of the gospel, and then move out into our most obvious relations, our church, our neighborhood, and, yes, the larger world of global realities. There is a very moving chapter about urban ministry (although for those of us who don't live in big cities, he is clear that we apply our outreach to the hurting and needy wherever they are found; surely rural and small town America has great poverty and there are, as we know, very tough stuff even in the most affluent of suburbs.)  Anyway, this is a great book, outlining who we are as people who announce good news and where we do this work, in various spheres and locales.  Very nicely arranged and very, very moving.  Again, I like that it includes world misisons, but it frames that by the preceding call to daily discipleship, ordinary outreach and service in ordinary ways and places.  Right on.

DDiscovering-the-Mission-of-God-21.jpgiscovering the Mission of God: Best Missional Practices for the 21st Century edited by Mike Barnett & Robin Martin (IVP) $35.00  Oh yeah, this is a hefty one, and worth every penny if you want to be informed about the very latest ideas in effective missionary work.  There are scholars and practitioners here, following the mission of God from the Bible and church history, and then the cutting edge best practices of our new era.  This includes rare contributions from John Piper, Chris Wright, Ed Stetzer, Scott Moreau, Jerry Rankin, and many, many others.  640 pages.  Editor Barneett is the dean of the College of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University, an excellent place from which he is able to gather the best stories of the best thinkers of our time.

Mmissional_god.jpgissional God, Missional Church: Hope for Re-evangelizing the West  Ross Hasting (IVP Academic) $20.00  Oh my, this is a masterpiece of scholarly, Biblical study to resource the missional vision.  J.I. Packer calls it a "tour de force."  This follows well in the legacy of Leslie Newbigin's Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Eerdmans),  fits well with a personal favorite by Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew, A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story (Baker) and on the heels of the spectacular Biblical overview, Mission of God by Chris Wright (IVP.)  Still, some are saying that there is nothing quite like it, changing the conversation, advancing our understanding, and deepening our insight and hope. Important for anyone who cares about the health and fidelity of our local congregations.  Wow.


Wow, I've been wanting for weeks to tell you about these six booklets - especially a few of them, and really, really especially one of them.  I'll come clean and admit it: I not only have an endorsement on one of them, but our bookstore is even described and commended in it.  I'm in a book!  We're in a footnote, too!  Oh, man, this is soooooo cooooool.  Okay.  Settle down.  Let me explain.

IVP has created these six small books - staple bound booklets, not unlike their famous LifeGuide Bible studies in shape and size - to sell inexpensively at Urbana, with the hopes that they will help students take the message home, so to speak, take next steps, practically learn about and live into the vision of Urbana.  A few of these are quite specific to moving towards world missions and would be excellent for any church library or para-church group that encourages global awareness and endeavors to equip folks to enter calling of world missions.  Several - as we will see ---are not specifically about missions and would be useful for nearly anyone.  We'll describe the mission-themed ones first (and really, really recommend them) and then will pull out the stops and rave about the few that are more general and should have wide appeal.  Can you guess in which Hearts & Minds makes its cameo appearance? Come on people, this is exciting!

Each of these booklets includes questions for personal reflection or, better, for group discussion.

Ppgc.pngartnering with the Global Church  Nikki Toyhama-Szeto & Femi Adeleye (IVP) $4.00 Ms. Toyama-Szato is program director for the Urbana Conference and helped develop programs for Cape Town 2010 Lausanne Congress -- so she knows this stuff well.  You may know her as a contributor to a book about Asian American women of faith, More Than Serving Tea. Mr. Adeley is an African, the associate general secretary for partnership and collaboration for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES.) He has seen this sort of concern from the perspective of the global church.  This powerful study reminds us that you can't (and shouldn't try to) go it alone.  It is a wonderful message for all of us.  If you know anybody on a mission committee or who helps make decisions about how mission activity is done, this is a great little reminder of very, very important ideals.

Sswm.pngpiritual Warfare in Mission  Mary Anne & Jack Voelkel (IVP) $4.00  The Voelkel's have worked in Latin America for years, and have done campus ministry (in Medellin, Columbia) which is to say they are smart and experienced.  They have been "missionaries-in-residence" at Urbana for years -- hosting "ask the missionary" discussion sessions -- and are very well-respected; if anybody can tackle this vexing matter, in brevity and balance, it is them.  Again, this is oriented towards those in global missions, but it might be good for any of us, eh?  You know that famous Luther line that the devil is glad if we think about him too much and if we don't think about him at all.   

Ppusuing god's call onward.jpgursuing God's Call  Tom Lin (IVP) $4.00 You know how much we appreciate resources that hold up the vision of vocation, that help folks discern their calling in life, and helps readers to frame their passions and occupations in terms of the theology of call.  This does that, but, mostly, it is a tool to help those perhaps inspired to go into the mission field to discern that calling.  As Lin said in his opening address at Urbana (ahh, the wonders of technology, that we can know this already), "Surrender your plans and let God surprise you. God's invitation extends further than we can every imagine. Don't limit God."  His evaluation of how this all works, his contrasting hearing God's call with the other calls coming from our culture, is profound.  He is honest and realistic, but holds out the big vision.  He quotes the famous missionary C.T. Studd, who wrote, "I'm not afraid of failure; I'm afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter."  Add this to other books on vocation, calling, and discerning God's will. 

Tmission of w.pnghe Mission of Worship  Sandra Van Opstal  (IVP) $4.00  Okay, this is interesting:  what Christian person doesn't want worship to be more faithful and meaningful?  What church leader doesn't want an inexpensive and brief resource to kindle passion and warmth for the work of worship?  Yes, we were made for more, and communal worship services allow us to have a special glimpse of the majesty and grandeur of God.  But it also paints a picture of God's purposes for the world, so this book is, in fact, an essay on and invitation to missional worship.  Sandra leads the Urbana worship team (and serves on the national leadership team for InterVarsity's Latino ministry, LaFe.)   We know God's heart breaks in a world of injustice and we know that proper worship of the Triune God can have transforming impact, motivating us to care and act.  This booklet explains the relationship between worship and mission and is very useful. 

Ddeepening soul of j.pngeepening the Soul for Justice  Bethany H. Hoang (IVP) $4.00  Oh my, how I wish there was a small study like this when I was younger.  There are several small group Bible study guides on social justice, now, but this one is very, very special.  For starters, Bethany is a hero to many of us, a young woman who has taken up work with the International Justice Mission, the pioneering and premier organization doing legal reform and dramatic activism against sexual trafficking.  She has done extraordinary, tireless work promoting IJM's work on campuses and in churches all over the country, and now directs the IJM Institute for Biblical Justice.  Here, she powerfully, if briefly, tells of their daily fight against injustice, highlighting especially how prayer is central to their important campaigns, and how we can all be more deeply involved as good citizens, in justice ministries, with a wholistic view of neighborly service in God's hurting world -- all rooted in the spiritual disciplines to undergird such activism. I love this little book, so appreciate its tone and wisdom, and commend it to you with enthusiasm.  The questions are interesting and upbeat, too; the Biblical study solid, and the invitation to involvement gracious and good.  Three big cheers for this great resource that should be widely used.  Kudos to IVP and "Urbana Onward" for adding this to their series.

Yonward - ymm.jpgour Mind's Mission  Greg Jao (IVP) $4.00  Did I tell you how much I admire and appreciate Greg Jao?  He's the book guy at Urbana, and I am his lesser counterpart in many gigs we do - standing up in front of crowds doing infomercials for books.  Greg would surely say that this is not as easy as it looks, and we both take this very seriously.  Why?  Because, as former Urbana hero, the late, great John Stott put it in a mid-70s book Your Mind Matters (IVP.)  Greg believes that for all of us, missionaries or not, students or not, reading is important because developing the "Christian mind" is important.  I don't have to explain it all to Hearts & Minds friends, but this spells out the transforming vision of a uniquely Christian worldview, the radical and even subversive implications of distinctively Biblically-informed thinking, as well as any small book we know.  Offering this post-Urbana book is a stroke of genius for several reasons, one of which is that, inspiring as the conference may be, most participants simply will not take up vocations as missionaries.  Most will go back to daily tasks, ordinary jobs, and will have to navigate fidelity within the often hostile secular classroom or workplace.  It is our "mind's mission" to think well, to think faithfully, so we might "see" and live into our complicated lives as Kingdom people, where-ever we are, in whatever career.

As one bookseller (okay, that would be me) says on the back,

Greg Jao is legendary as a lover of students and a lover of books.  For Christ's glory, he has long encouraged students to read widely, to think deeply, to hone their minds so that they might understand God's Word and world and serve well.  He's also a wonderful writer, and now, in this great little book, he has given us exactly what every student needs: a quick and easy-to-read guide that makes the case for a missional mind, 'thinking Christianly' and honoring Christ as King in every career and calling, across every zone of life. 

You can be glad that Greg isn't quite as breathy or wordy as I am, but that back-cover endorsement is more than sincere.  I think I'm right about it, too -- every student needs a small book like this.  Call it a prequel to the still useful Your Mind Matters (IVP), a feisty companion to the short booklet What is the Christian Worldview? by Philip Ryken (P&R) and an excellent warm-up for the vital Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness by Don Opitz and Derek Melleby (Baker.)  If you know any college students (or bright high school students wanting to relate faith and learning) send 'em one of these.  In fact, send them two, and tell them to share one with a Christian pal or Godly prof.  Our intellectual engagement matters to God and it matters to our personal growth and it matters to our neighbors, who need, now more than ever, thoughtful, insightful, solid insight about the world.  This little book really does the job well, and we cannot think of a better introduction to the topic. (Greg brings Urbana-esque concerns to the topic, too, asking about creational structures, ethnicity and justice and all sorts of interesting implications of an authentically Biblical worldview and the renewed mind commended in Romans 12:1-2, for instance.  I am so glad for this!  You really should read it.)

Kudos to IVP for releasing these great little books, for their wisdom in knowing that people need to process information in this manner, that we need handles to take next steps and think through the implications of missional living for all of life.   From multi-ethnic friendship to missional worship, from social justice to using our minds well, these themes illustrate the vibrant and healthy views promoted at Urbana, and are examples of what God is saying to the people of God.   Buy these little books and share them.  Spread the news, spread the conversation.

Thanks for helping us promote these sorts of great tools for advancing the healing of the world to the glory of Christ, the incarnate King.



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My wife and I are IVCF and Urbana 06 Alumni and it definitely is a high water mark in the world church missions of the last 65 years! Byron, I love your bookstore but the Urbana bookstore I remember is an amazing experience for any serious reader. Thanks for carrying IVP books in your bookstore.

Dear Byron,

Your enthusiasm for and advocacy of the Urbana Student Missions Conference is much appreciated! I attended my first Urbana as a student at Grove City College in 1993. AND as you know I haven't been able to shake InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, InterVarsity Press, or Urbana :)

This year it was my privilege to coordinate the endeavors of the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN), including a reception with Greg Jao. At the ESN booth, seminars, and various gatherings, I had conversation with student after student seeking to love God with their 'head, heart, and hands' where God has placed them . . . and wherever He will take them, even mission in higher education (in the United States and abroad). Join me in praying for them as they take their next steps this term. May God richly bless the preparations for Jubilee13. To God be the glory!

In Christ, Tom

PS. Yes, we passed along not only a whole box of Greg Jao's "Your Mind's Mission," but also a number of books from "Serving Christ as a Professor: Suggested Readings from Urbana 12,"