Archives For Mission

 

A Truly Dialogical Space

 
A Feature Review of 
 

The Mission of the Church:
Five Views in Conversation

Craig Ott, Ed.

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2016
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Reviewed by Joe Davis.
 
 
 
In The Mission of the Church, Craig Ott facilitates an energizing, informative, and mutually enriching dialogue on how the church participates with God’s work in, for, and with God’s creation. Five contributors participate in this dialogue: Stephen Bevans representing a Roman Catholic tradition, Darrell Guder representing mainline Protestants, Ruth Padilla Deborst representing Latin American evangelicals, Edward Rommen representing an Eastern Orthodox tradition, and Ed Stetzer representing North American evangelicals. Each contributor provides their own perspective and then responds to the other four perspectives. I write this review as a North American evangelical raised in Stetzer’s tradition, but trained academically in Padilla Deborst’s tradition. I was familiar with the work of Bevans and Guder, and am least familiar with Rommen and the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In this review, I briefly summarize each view, discuss the common themes of Trinity and contextualization, and explore how Christological nuances lead to missiological differences.

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A Vision of Love and Unity
for All of Creation

A Feature Review of 

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian
Brian McLaren

Hardback: Convergent Books, 2016
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Reviewed by Leslie Klingensmith
 

For several years, I was a Brian McLaren skeptic.  It wasn’t personal.  I’ve never met him, and have not seen him speak in person (although I would like that to change).  My skepticism was based on what felt like a universal wave of adulation for him that, in my opinion, was easily turned into dismissal of everything about the church and our history.  While I agree that much about the church needs to (indeed MUST) change, I bristle at the suggestion that the church by which I was nurtured and to whom I have dedicated my vocational life is as hopelessly misguided and selfish as many McLaren devotees say it is.  After all, there are millions of people across denominations who are doing such wonderful work in the world and who make me hopeful for the future of God’s people.  If the church produced them, can it be all bad?  Skeptics in the McLaren universe don’t get very far – if you raise questions about the “Everything Must Change” mind set, you are dismissed as defensive and too invested in the old order of things.  If you point out ways that the current church is already moving in many of the directions McLaren advocates, especially missional communities and emphasis on serving the wider world instead of maintaining institutions, you are in denial about how bad things really are in the mainline church.  Brian McLaren’s cult-like status got on my nerves.

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bishop-tom

Yesterday (Dec. 1) was the birthday of theologian N.T. Wright.

To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to his most significant books.

David Fitch recently remarked:

 

This list is for the pastors that Fitch mentions, and for anyone else who hasn’t read N.T. Wright, or who wants to read more of Wright’s work…
 
We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

 

1) Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Surprised By Hope may likely be Wright’s book that is most transformative book for the life and thought of local churches. Wright locates our hope not solely in a distant hereafter, but in the life of the church as Christ’s body in the here and now.

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A Cruciform Movement Toward
Compassion, Communion, and Solidarity
 
A Feature Review of

How Jesus Saves the World from Us:
12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity

Morgan Guyton

Paperback: WJK Books, 2016
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Reviewed by Stephen Milliken
 
 
 
Morgan Guyton’s How Jesus Saves the World from Us charts a course offering a constructive critique that seeks to diagnose twelve infectious attitudes and detoxify Christianity with a corresponding antidote for each. Reflecting on Paul’s transformation experience as an illustration of Jesus saving the world from our severely misguided attempts at piety and righteousness, Guyton invites the reader into the often ignored practice of self-examination in which he poses the question: “How would Christians live differently if we believed that Jesus needs to save the world from us?”(p. 5). As he does throughout the book, Guyton provocatively takes this a step further, “If Jesus’ cross is the heart of Christianity, then maybe Jesus has never stopped being crucified by his own people, and the ones who really get Jesus are crucified along with him” (2).
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Bringing Forth Important Questions
 
A Review of 
 

Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us about Following Jesus
Bryan Bishop

Paperback: Baker Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee
 
 
Follower of Jesus or Christian? Is there a difference?

We all know somebody (or perhaps are that person) who says, “I’m not a Christian. I’m a follower of Jesus.” And in many ways, we see such a disassociation from the church as a copout, an individualistic and consumerist distancing from organized religion to distinguish oneself as the more faithful follower. I played with the distinction for a while. Ultimately I rejected it, because, the church and being a Christian is, contextually appropriate for my situation.

The same cannot be said for hundreds of people who follow Jesus in the negotiation of their local regional and religious contexts. Bryan Bishop, in Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us about Following Jesus, explores insider movements and seeks to discern how one negotiates a separation of the Christian identity from that of follower of Jesus.

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Knowing Fear

 
A review of

A Fresh Look at Fear: Encountering Jesus in our Weakness
Dan Baumann

Paperback: YWAM Publishing, 2015
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Reviewed by Hillary Jo Foreman

 

Like most children, I was afraid of many things while growing up. I was afraid of spiders, the Boogey Man and, of course, the dark. The majority of children outgrow superficial fears such as these, replacing them with more matured versions. I, too, allowed my fears of monsters in the closet to transform into real life fears of finances and failure. I have been in the church all my life so Christian fears also bloomed. Am I following God’s will? Why doesn’t he speak to me? What happens if people judge me?

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Stopping The Swinging Pendulum
 
A Review of

Dwell: Life with God For the World
Barry Jones

Paperback: IVP Books
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Reviewed by Kevin Wildman

 

As an undergraduate student one of my professors, discussed the pendulum swing in the church throughout history. He explained that the church often reacts to a position or event by swinging its position to the complete opposite side. The more I observe and experience, the more I see the truth presently being lived out in the church. As the body of Christ we tend to be pretty good at being divisive over our opinions, everything from clothing attire, use and accumulation of wealth, worship styles, politics, and everything in between. Sometimes it seems like there is more work across the aisles in Washington than there is in the Church. One such area that I have witnessed this division is, on one side of the pendulum Spiritual Formation, and on the other Missional mindedness. Michael Frost puts it this way in the forward, Spiritual Formation focused people “seem oriented toward the inner work of self-reflection, contemplation and holiness. We missional types are more oriented to the outer works of service, justice seeking, peacemaking and evangelism.” (7).

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Prophetic Imagination for Church and Mission

A Feature Review of

Overturning Tables: Freeing Missions from the Christian-Industrial Complex

Scott Bessenecker

Paperback: IVP Books, 2014
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Reviewed by Amy Peterson

 

I’d say that this book is a game-changer, but it’s actually far more important than that. After all, the mission of the church in the world is not a game.

 

In Overturning Tables: Freeing Missions from the Christian-Industrial Complex, Scott Bessenecker examines the unquestioned assumptions undergirding American ideas about how missions and the church should work. Perhaps that makes the book sound dry, but it isn’t; while meticulously researched and packed with insight, the book is eminently readable.  Bessenecker draws on his decades of experience with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, where he currently serves as an associate director for missions, and shares compelling stories from people around the world to illustrate his points. Fueled by a prophetic imagination, he critiques the structures, questions the “norms,” and offers stories and suggestions for a way forward as we “drive the market out of Christian mission”.

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Jesse Zink - Grace at Garbage DumpMoving into the Neighborhood

A Review of

Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century

Jesse Zink

Paperback: Cascade, 2012.
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Reviewed by Mike Bishop.

Every movement within the Christian community adopts a set of favorite words.  In the 1990’s, the Church Growth movement rallied around words like Growth, Strategy, and Leadership.  In the 2000’s the Emerging conversation focused on words like Post-modern and Community.  But in the current decade, an ancient word has become a regular part of the Missional Church vocabulary: Incarnation.

In the book, Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century, Jesse Zink tells his story of diving headlong into the incarnational life.  Jesse became an missionary sent by the Episcopal Church to a shantytown in the heart of South Africa called Itipini.  He struggles with the idea of mission, as many progressive Western Christians do, as the foundational idea for ministry in a foreign context:  “Here I was, a white man in black Africa.  I was stepping into a role that had been filled by so many men over the generations.  That legacy – and the legacy of the word mission – made me feel uneasy, no matter my professed and eager desire to serve others and save people in Itipini.”(16)

 

There’s a number of us here at Englewood Christian Church, who have been thinking recently about churches’ role in nurturing the health of our places (Reading essays like Wendell Berry‘s “Health is Membership” and books like Making Healthy Places, one of our Best Books of 2011). So, we were undoubtedly excited when the review copy of this book arrived in the mail yesterday:

Health, Healing and the Church’s Mission: Biblical Perspectives and Moral Priorities.

Willard Swartley

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2012.
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