5 Books About Emerging/Emergent Churches

By Gary Zustiak

EXILES: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture

By Michael Frost

Hendrickson Publishers, 2006

Frost is professor of evangelism and missions at Morling College in Sydney, Australia. His book is scholarly, yet very practical. It carefully lays out what the church must do to effectively communicate the gospel to a postmodern world and retain those Christians “who find themselves falling into the cracks between contemporary secular Western culture and a quaint, old-fashioned church culture of respectability and conservatism” (p. 3). Exiles acknowledges the yearnings of those in the emerging church movement who long for church that is more than simple attendance at a worship service where all the action is carefully scripted out and performed by a select few.


By D. A. Carson

Zondervan, 2005

Carson begins the book with an overview of the strengths and positive aspects he sees in the emerging church movement. The rest of the book, however, is a systematic critique against the emerging church. Carson’s two main critiques center on the emerging/Emergent church’s acceptance of postmodernism and the writings of Brian McLaren (especially his book, A Generous Orthodoxy).

EMERGING CHURCHES: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures

By Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger

Baker Academic, 2005

Gibbs and Bolger are professors at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. They interviewed more than 50 leaders in churches identified as emerging in order to present a clear and fair picture of the basic beliefs of the emerging church movement.

Through extensive research they identified nine practices that all of the emerging churches seem to share. The bulk of the book is given to explaining the nine common practices and how the different congregations have lived them out in authentic Christian witness.

THE EMERGING CHURCH: Vintage Christianity for New Generations

By Dan Kimball

Zondervan, 2003

This is a compilation of the practical insights concerning the postmodern generation and their spiritual needs that Kimball gained as youth minister at Santa Cruz (California) Bible Church. Kimball eventually started a sister congregation, Vintage Faith Church, that fully reflected the desires of postmoderns with respect to worship, the arts, sacred space, and participatory services.

In many respects, the book compares and contrasts what worked in reaching the boomer generation (with its seeker-sensitive churches) and what is needed to win Gen X and millennials (with the emphasis on community and involvement). The book has many helpful charts, bullet points, and sidebar comments.


By Brian McLaren

Zondervan, 2000

McLaren is the unofficial “voice” of Emergent. His writings have influenced and shaped the Emergent movement probably more than any other.

This book centers around 13 strategies to help the church navigate the modern to postmodern transition. McLaren encourages the church to simplify, clarify, and redefine its mission as “more Christians, better Christians in authentic missional community, for the good of the world” (p. 27).

–Gary Zustiak

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