All missions books point to one thing: the believer’s call to fulfill the Great Commission. These books not only help us learn about missions, they encourage us to action. This is done through full-time service overseas, short-term trips, work among international people groups in the United States, financial support, and many other avenues as believers share the gospel with their neighbors and with the nations.
There is a wealth of resources available to believers who want to learn more about missions and find their place in the Great Commission. I asked a few current and former missionaries, pastors, and lay leaders to recommend one missions book for all believers to read. Whether you’re interested in missions history, best practices, or just desire to be encouraged by missions stories across the world, here are a few books you should have on your shelf.
President and CEO
Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee
Discovering the Mission of God, edited by Mike Barnett, is a comprehensive missiology that helps people get the big picture. Although it’s more of a textbook, its various contributors cover topics such as theology of mission, church history, missions case studies, and best practices. Discovering the Mission of God provides a great overview of missions for anyone wanting to learn more and find their place in God’s mission.
Former IMB Missionary, Director of Women’s Discipleship
The Summit Church Raleigh
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken is filled with remarkable stories of how faith survives in places of grave persecution around the world and shines a bright light on what it truly means to pick up your cross and follow Jesus. It is a personal challenge to every believer to not only examine his or her commitment to serve Jesus regardless of the cost, but also to have an extraordinary faith in the resurrected Christ that will enable him to endure suffering for Christ’s name’s sake. Discover for yourself that God is enough as you allow the Holy Spirit and the challenges in this book to stretch your faith and rekindle your passion to see the lost come to Christ.
Former IMB Missionary, Associate Director
Center for Great Commission Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Typically small books loom large in my life. The Great Omission by Robertson McQuilkin is such a book. When it comes to missions, this small, impactful book has remained a favorite of mine over the years. McQuilkin writes about three loves that motivate us to engage God’s mission among the nations. These loves are the love of self, love of others, and love of God. In just over one hundred pages, he wakes believers up to the lost, and encourages all believers to actively find their roles in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It continues to be an invaluable resource for missions.
All around the world, missionaries use skills to reach our host culture. We evaluate our neighborhoods, cities and regions for streams where the gospel could flow. We build relationships, and we listen to the Spirit. We try to identify people prepared by God to reach further social networks. All of this is done in the hopes of bringing many people to Christ. But, for years, these skills have rarely been shared with the North American Church. Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission, written by Larry McCrary, Caleb Crider, Wade Stephens, and Rodney Calfee, lets you in on all our secrets. Whether you are a pastor, leader, or disciple maker, this book will help you exegete your context and share the gospel skillfully.
Former IMB Missionary
Peoples Next Door Project
Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism is short, accessible, and walks the reader through Christ’s own heart for gospel witness. It is a study of principles used in the making of the first disciples. Coleman traces eight guiding principles in Jesus’s way of making disciples that should mark every one of us. It is not about a presentation, but a new way of living. The proposal is a lifestyle of investing deeply in a few, so that they may invest in others. Even in a time when we like to give lip service to “discipleship,” Coleman’s words cut through many of our assumptions straight to the heart of our Great Commission purpose. His challenge is that all Christians, whether church planting overseas or serving faithfully in a neighborhood church, would make Christ’s own passion their life’s purpose.
Meredith Cook is a content editor for the International Mission Board. She has an MDiv in missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband in Houston, Texas. Find her on Twitter @MeredithCook716.