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6 Books You Should Read in 2020

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for resolutions, lists, and commitments that may or may not be followed all the way to the end of 2020. But, as pessimistic as that last sentence may sound, it’s always good to review the year that has passed and consider what we desire to accomplish in the next. I, myself, tend to strive for the same things at the beginning of each year: to improve my spiritual disciplines, to exercise more (doesn’t everyone say that?!), and to read more—and better—books.

If you, too, want to read more this year, then allow us to suggest some books you might want to add to your list. All believers are called to obey the Great Commission. And we—The Upstream Collective—want to help you do that. We want all churches to see themselves as a sending church and all Christians as sent ones. One way we do that is by developing resources and books that help you learn how to send and be sent.

We’ve also read other books that may help you further your knowledge of God’s mission and help you learn how to participate in it. I surveyed The Upstream Collective team, asking them to suggest books for you to read in 2020. Whether you’re a church leader looking for resources to pass on to your church members, or an individual who wants to learn about living as one who is sent on God’s mission, here are six books you might consider reading this year.

Andy McCullough, Malcolm Down Publishing, 2018

More than any other quality, humility is vital for the cross-cultural worker. Andy McCullough helps readers consider six areas of humility—moral, public, semantic, intercultural, incarnational, and theological—in order to be more effective in cross-cultural missions.


Elliot Clark, The Gospel Coalition, 2019

The Bible tells us that this world is not our home—that we are living as exiles until Christ’s return. International missionaries may understand this better than some, but it is true for believers ministering in their own culture. Drawing on 1 Peter, Elliot Clark encourages readers to embrace the suffering and exclusion they may experience and use it as an opportunity to live and witness to the gospel as aliens in this world.


Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield, IVP Academic, 2017

Christian mission and spiritual formation have historically been separate conversations. But in this collection of writings from evangelical scholars, editors Nathan Finn and Keith Whitfield join the two. Spirituality for the Sent addresses the neglected idea of missions as formation (or formation as missions), which is precisely the tension that missions pastors must maintain if their churches are to send well.


Peter Scazzero, Zondervan, 2017

When preparing to be sent out, many missionaries and sending church leaders consider practical topics such as evangelism, cross-cultural communication, and missions strategies. But it is also important to consider personal, emotional, and spiritual health and development. In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero takes a biblical approach to emotional health, helping readers learn how emotional health and maturity is tied to spiritual health and maturity.


Sarah A. Lanier, McDougal Publishing, 2000

If you’ve interacted with someone from another culture, you have likely been befuddled by how different he or she seems from you. Or, maybe you didn’t even notice because you didn’t even know to look for differences. Foreign to Familiar is a small but practical book for just such occasions. Sarah Lanier helps readers understand cultural differences—and thereby bridge cultural divides—by giving broad categories for how different cultures think, act, and communicate.


Nik Ripken, B&H Books, 2013

When we think of persecution, we may think of the martyrs of the early church—of Stephen, Paul, Peter, and others who died for proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ. And, although we hear of some persecution today, we may not realize just how prevalent it still is in countries that are hostile to the gospel and governments that punish those who convert. The Insanity of God reminds us that believers still face acute suffering for their faith today and encourages us to be faithful—no matter the cost.


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