The Missional Mom by Helen Lee
I read this book because it came highly recommended on a website I think highly of. Sadly, I was disappointed with it. Although I appreciated the variety of topics that Lee chose to write about, and her emphasis on her church, I was turned off by an incident related early in the book that I completely disagreed with. My view of this incident affected the way I viewed Lee's entire project. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from Lee's book is this: you can be both missional and a member of a "traditional" church. I already knew this, but I think many "missional" books underemphasize (or omit) this connection.
Update (2/14/2001): I want to be more positive about this book. As I've thought more about it, it was not right for me to largely dismiss the book because of what I disagreed with early on. In fact, Helen Lee has offered a very accessible primer on missional living. I don't have a particularly large collection of missional books, but of what I do have, Lee's book is perhaps the cleanest and simplest introduction to missional living. In other words, if I had to give someone one book on missional living out of my collection, I would more than likely give Lee's to a person.
Right Here, Right Now by Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford
I always enjoy reading Hirsch's books. Though I find them too theoretical for what they are, they are also filled with practical ideas and concepts. This book is no different. Hirsch wrote the first and last chapter and provides insights throughout the book. Ford wrote the majority of the book. The two worked out a good pattern--the book is engaging, interesting, theologically sound and theologically practical. I recommend it if you want to learn how to engage people in mission for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Church Planting is for Wimps by Mike McKinley
I loved this book! I'm finding that anything in the 9Marks series hits the mark, so to speak. McKinley was an intern at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and followed Mark Dever's suggestion that he plant in a church in northern Virginia. His efforts led him and his wife to revitalize an already existing church, rather than plant a new one. This short book details how he went about the process of revitalization, with an emphasis on gathering around the word of God, maintaining integrity with the membership rolls, creating an accurate and useful statement of faith, and changing the church's constitution and by-laws to organize around biblical leadership (elders). A final chapter encourages a dedication to faithfulness, not numbers. Very encouraging! I highly recommend this book for anyone in church ministry.
It was interesting to read these three books inside of the same way. In my opinion, too many books written from a supposedly missional orientation leave the organizational church out. They include discussions of the church but with much more nuance. For example, Hirsch and Ford tell a story about a group who had bush walking as a hobby but could only meet on Sunday. This became their "church." I'm personally uncomfortable with designating this activity "church." That doesn't mean it's wrong; this is still something I'm processing as I study scripture and keep reading. To me, despite the problems I had with Lee's book, one strength was her ability to create a bridge between the organizational church and missional activity.
McKinley's book focused more on the outreach activities of the church as evangelism. In my opinion, many missionally-oriented books simply describe ways of evangelizing people with integrity. These writers and practitioners cringe at the traditional methods of evangelism, as do I. But evangelism can be done properly and with integrity. There is much to learn from the missional movement and their books about evangelism without throwing away the organizational church (despite its flaws). McKinley fills in these gaps and provides the necessary building blocks while maintaining a witness to the community around the church.