Read on! Nine books that explore the connection between our faith in Christ and compassionate action


If you missed this little list of book recommendations came from the latest NCM Magazine (here), don’t worry! We’ve posted it down below. If you have time this summer to sit back and dig deeper, we highly recommend starting with any of these!

Christlike Justice and the Holiness Tradition by Chanshi Chanda (Prairie Star Publications, 2010)

Is it possible we’ve missed out on part of what holiness is about? Through the lens of a holiness theology, this book offers an image of an integrated faith that does not ignore the social structures that affect our lives. Chanshi Chanda, a Nazarene pastor from Zambia, provides a perspective that emphasizes dignity in the face of oppression and how the church can respond.

Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglass A. Morrison (Image, 2006)

This is a classic we think everyone should read. Nouwen, McNeill, and Morrison do away with the idea that compassion is little more than a feel-good emotion or naïve concept. Instead, they offer a radically different view of Christ’s call to compassion—as a difficult choice to be lived more than felt.

Compassion Evangelism: Meeting Humans Needs by Thomas G. Nees (Beacon Hill, 1996)

In a world where we love to split things into either/or, Tom Nees points out that the church doesn’t have to choose between meeting physical needs and caring for souls. He offers a careful look at the church’s call to compassionate action, including a historical perspective that goes back to church fathers John Wesley and Phineas Bresee.

From Brokenness to Community by Jean Vanier (Paulist Press, 1992)

Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, a global network of more than a hundred communities of people living with disabilities and their caregivers. Out of this experience comes a short volume packed with wisdom for anyone seeking to serve and love others well.

The Poverty and Justice Bible (American Bible Society, 2009)

Want to know what the Bible really says about a Christian response to poverty? This Bible, in the Contemporary English Version, highlights—literally—more than 2,000 Scripture verses that point to God’s care for those who are poor and God’s call for us to respond. This Bible also includes study guide questions for group discussions as well as applications for how you can live out God’s words in your day-to-day life.

Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness, and Justice by Brenda Salter McNeill (IVP Press, 2016)

Brenda Salter McNeill has dedicated a huge part of her life to the study of reconciliation as a practitioner, educator, author, and speaker. In Roadmap to Reconciliation, she provides a practical guide for Christians interested in working toward reconciliation across race, class, gender, and other lines that divide us. McNeill’s writing not only equips you with her brilliant ideas and tools for approaching reconciliation, but she also challenges you to go further in conversations and engaging in reconciliation in your personal sphere.

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right by Lisa Sharon Harper (WaterBrook, 2016)

From exploring the early chapters of the Bible to breaking down the meaning of shalom in issues of justice and threats in our world, Lisa Sharon Harper casts a vision of hope for a broken world. This hope comes from a gospel that is about far more than what happens when we die. It comes from a picture of shalom—a wholeness for a hurting world and the people in it. Beyond ideas, she shows us what it can look like in our lives today.

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development by Bryant L. Myers (Orbis, 2011)

Bryant Myers explores what happens when we start to see poverty as more than just a lack of stuff—and what can happen when we start to see the people living in poverty through a lens of dignity and humanity. This one isn’t a quick beach read, but it’s an important read for anyone interested in seeing communities that are transformed through holistic community development efforts.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (Moody Publishers, 2014)

In the era of short-term mission trips and church-based compassionate ministries, this book addresses a question we should all be asking: Are our efforts to help those living in poverty really working, or are they doing more harm than good? Corbett and Fikkert start with many of Bryant Myers’ concepts in Walking With the Poor and break them down for us. The authors challenge congregations and individuals engaged in compassionate action to work within a framework of dignity, respect, and intentional relationships. If you’re involved in a local ministry to thinking about a mission trip, we highly recommend you read this one.


Have you read any of these books yet? Or is there a book missing on our list that you recently enjoyed?

Share any other books you’ve read on compassion and the church in the comments below!