Creative Arts

Art & The Bible Francis Schaeffer (IVP) Two short essays which have
proven indispensable for Christian artists of all sorts. Wonderful!

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art Madeline L’Engle
(NorthPoint Press) An exquisite essay by one of our finest writers in
which she draws on her craft as novelist and poet. Basic and

State of the Arts: Gene Vieth (Crossway) Biblical study, art history
and discussions of contemporary visual artists all set within a
culturally-wise worldview.

It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard
(Square Halo) A fabulous collection of thoughtful chapters by a variety
of artists, who work in a variety of mediums, each talking about how to
go about actually doing art from a Christian perspective.

Rainbows for a Fallen World Calvin Seerveld (Toronto Tuppance Press)
Certainly one of the most widely respected writers about Christians in
the arts, this eccentric book holds forth a vision of God’s concern for
nuance, suggestion, color and allusivity. Creatively written, serious
and, at times, nearly stunning. Exceptional!

Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves: Alternative Steps in Understanding Art
Calvin Seerveld (Hodder & Stoughton) A distinctively Christian approach
to art history and the philosophy of art historiography. Mature, at
times brilliant!

Books on Contemporary Culture

Prodigal Hugging Church by Tim Wright (Augsburg).
Not an assessment
of modern culture, but a brief and joyous case for appreciation of culture
and how to engage and use the best of our contemporary context. A solid
reminder of the need for relevant engagement. Very solid. And the notion
that we embrace and celebrate “prodigals” is nice, too, eh?

Carpe Mañana: Is Your Church Ready to Seize Tomorrow?
by Leonard Sweet (Zondervan).
Sweet’s newest offers 10 “naturalization
lessons” for those of us for whom this new hot-wired postmodern world
is not the culture of our birth. Classic Sweet, chock-full of stories,
examples, statistics, new definitions (even new words), trends and tons
of things to do, consider or discuss. Fun, provocative and, even if you
only use a portion of it, it is well worth the ride! For a real treat
(and perhaps the best way to appreciate his material) check out the SoulTsunami
audio tapes. Woo-hoo.
The End of the World as We Know It by Chuck Smith (Waterbrook).
Nobody has explained postmodernism as simply as this! Very basic and
altogether helpful. For a deeper study, ask us, as there are several important
titles we recommend, but for starters, this intro to the cultural shifts
away from the “modern” is really good. At last.
No More Front Porches: Rebuilding Community In Our Isolated Worlds
by Linda Wilcox (Beacon Hill).
A Christian sociologist has given us
an insightful invitation to rebuild neighborhoods by reconnecting with
one another. A clear critique of the trends towards individualism and
fragmentation. Offers clear hope for building “front porches”
in today’s world. Social commentary doesn’t get any clearer
than this.
Eyes Wide Open: Finding God in Popular Culture by William D.
Romanowski (Brazos Press).
The author–a native of Pennsylvania
who came to faith through a local Presbyterian outreach (and who served
for 12 years on CCO staff)–has given us the very best biblical argument
for engaging popular culture. Truly fascinating, insightful and exciting
(yep, it is actually fun), this is theologically clear and solid as can
be. Fabulous!
Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment
by Brian Godawa (IVP).
An exceptional and brand new study of how
movies have shaped our views of life. Written by a Hollywood screenwriter,
this is no ivory tower treatise. It is, however, very thoughtful, philosophically
learned and worthy of serious consideration. (His Web site and movie suggestions
are fabulous resources, too.)
A Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype & Spin
by Os Guinness (Baker).
An elegant and eloquent essay on the profound
nature of truth and the need for a reconsideration of the notion of truth
in a culture which has rejected the idea. For many, this will be a rich
resource for serious reflection and repeated readings. Guinness is surely
one of the finest public intellectuals and a theologically astute observer
of the contemporary cultural crisis.
Confident Witness–Changing World: Rediscovering the Gospel
in North America
edited by Craig Van Gelder (Eerdmans).
A serious
examination of the radical shift that has reshaped American life and what
it means for congregations and their mission…insightful critique and
profound reflections on the new challenges. A semi-scholarly, foundational
discussion of how our churches can have a greater witness with biblical
fidelity. An important volume in the ongoing Christ and Our Culture
Consuming Passion: Christianity and Consumer Culture edited
by Rodney Clapp (IVP).
A collection of serious essays (a few of which
are nearly brilliant). Looks at various ways the ethos of consumption
has effected our lives and even our understanding of the gospel itself!
Much, much more than a warning against the lure of materialism, this is
a study of the whole ethos of consumerism.
Dining With The Devil by Os Guinness (Baker). One need
not agree with Dr. Guinness’ criticism of “seeker-sensitive
mega-churches” to appreciation this keen, clear critique of how the
values of the modern world — technology, choice, change, marketing,
growth, image — have presented unprecedented challenges to the communication
of the gospel. His urgent warning that we not adopt these values unwittingly
is truly worthy of our utmost consideration.          
Is It a Lost Cause? Having the Heart of God for the Church’s
by Marva Dawn (Eerdmans).
Although the subtitle indicates
that this may be mostly about children or for Christian educators, this
is a radical and clear-headed critique of our cultural values and family
habits — materialism, TV violence, etc. — and a reminder that
the gospel calls us to be a counter-cultural community, different from
the world, but for the world. What a wake up call! Truly one of the most
important theological voices writing today, this is one of her most challenging
and important.
A Beginner’s Guide to Crossing Cultures: Making Friends in
a Multi-Cultural World
by Patty Lane (IVP).
There are plenty of
powerful books on cultural diversity, various ethnicities and the biblical
call for racial justice and reconciliation. This book spells out as well
as any the details of actually learning to be comfortable in our diverse
and multi-cultural world. Very important amidst our “global village.”
Uncommon Decency by Richard Mouw (IVP). As Christians
press the claims of Christ across the entire spectrum of society, we must
be humble, fair and civil. This astute evangelical Calvinist has learned
much about principled proclamation as well as graciousness in the public
square. Delightful, challenging and more urgent than ever!

Books on Evangelism

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine
Pohl (Eerdmans).
The definitive work on both the history and theology
of offering care to others and opening our homes and churches to include
strangers. Very important.

Good News & Good Works: A Theology for the Whole Gospel
by Ronald J. Sider (Baker).
One of our favorite books! This is a serious
call and a helpful guide to thinking about wholistic outreach, evangelism
with words and deeds, all seen as a joyous witness to the Kingdom of God.
Lost in America: How You and Your Church Can Impact the World Next
by Tom Clegg & Warren Bird (Group).
This is one of the
clearest and most compelling books on evangelism I’ve read in years!
With suggested movies to watch, tons of striking stories and examples,
it is a delight to read. Three sections explore changes, choices and challenges.
Excellent & highly recom-mended for individuals, small groups or church
committees. You won’t put it down unchanged.
Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World by Becky Pippert (IVP).
Perhaps my favorite book on evangelism, Becky insists on a “friendship”
approach. This is a true classic, with great Bible study, breath-taking
stories and delightfully humane care. A must-read! Make sure your church
library has it (and that folks know about it!).
Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren (Servant). The
author invites churches to ministries of kindness–free car washes
and the like–done simply in the name of Christ. No guilt, low stress,
low risk and high grace. Great stories (this stuff really works!) that
are truly inspiring.
How to Reach Secular People by George Hunter (Abingdon). An
excellent study of cultural shifts, how secularization has influenced
us all and creative ways to share the gospel effectively in our current
context. A very, very insightful little book. Jam-packed with information,
ideas, and very practical suggestions. Highly regarded.
The Heart of Evangelism by Jerram Barrs (Crossway). What
a resource! Just about the best biblical and theological study, as well
as immensely helpful advice about honest, faith-sharing efforts amongst
our secularized neighbors. Thoughtful and wise.
More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism as Dance in the Postmodern
by Brian McLaren (Zondervan).
Largely an extended dialogue
with a non-Christian e-mail partner, this is one of the very best books
which takes postmodern seekers seriously. McLaren eventually crafts a
gospel presentation to relate to his friend’s deep longings and serious
questions, sharing Christ honestly, creatively and forthrightly. Brilliant,
sincere and exciting. Wow!
The Contagious Christian by Bill Hybels (Zondervan). With
Hybel’s typical clarity, innovation, biblical faithfulness and passion,
he guides readers towards greater motivation and offers practical help
in being a relationally-sensitive friend willing to share the good news
of God’s love. One of the best–quite clear and useful.
Speaking of Jesus by Mack Stiles (IVP). Loaded with stories,
lessons learned, biblical insights and practical tips, this maybe the
best handbook for those seriously engaged in faith-sharing. A fun read,
this really provides very concrete and detailed ideas.
Biblical Perspectives on Evangelism: Living in a Three-Storied
by Walter Brueggemann (Abingdon).
This deeply nuanced
and often ponderous biblical scholar is always worth reading…slowly.
So read him here on evangelism, but be prepared to be immersed in a close
and yet open reading of Scripture. He suggests that evangelism includes
inviting outsiders in; calling jaded members of the faith community back
to fidelity; and passing faith on to a new generation of the young.
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach
by Thom Rainers (Zondervan).
The author, Dean of the Billy
Graham School of Evangelism, has done considerable research among the
“previously unchurched” and here presents his extraordinary
findings. Shows what drew people to church. One reviewer has written,
“It’s pastoral malpractice to ignore this book!”
Building a Contagious Church: Revolutionizing the Way We Do and
View Evangelism
by Mark Mittelberg (Zondervan).
Who wouldn’t
want a church to be passionate about effective evangelism? This is a marvelous
invitation to–and a practical guide for training in–new ways
to share God’s great news. Get it for your outreach committee!
The Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending Church in North
edited by Darrell Gruder (Eerdmans).
Although the most
scholarly book on this list, it is one of the most significant. Edited
by a professor of evangelism at a Presbyterian seminary, this is a brilliant,
serious and deeply theological work inviting new perspectives on the calling
of the church in our own secularized culture. This is nearly brilliant
and has been called pioneering. It is surely worth a careful study.
Churches That Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community With Good
News and Good Works
by Ron Sider, Phil Olson & Heidi Rolland (Baker).
This is a call to wholistic mission and a wonderful, wonderful presentation
of the best examples of such outreach (mostly in the Philadelphia area).
It documents those churches doing the very best job of evangelism and
social outreach and describes principles nearly any church can apply.
Few churches really combine effective ministry in this wholistic way and
this book will help us bring immense credibility and integrity to our
God for the World–Church for the World: The Mission of the
Church in Today’s World
by Shirley Guthrie (Witherspoon Press).

A great, six-session, interactive study guide prepared by the PC(USA),
discussing Reformed views of mission and evangelization.