Featured Reviews, VOLUME 8

Scott Bessenecker – Overturning Tables [Feature Review]

 [easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”0830836802″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51yFxHTIiqL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”107″]Page 2: Scott Bessenecker – Overturning Tables


Another way American cultural values have infiltrated our understanding of the gospel is through individualism. Chapter five offers ways to learn from our brothers and sisters from communally-oriented cultures, for example, by embracing plurality and diversity in leadership, and valuing consensus and diversity.  Perhaps one strong, charismatic leader is actually much weaker than a diverse group of people who work together to find consensus – “Unhealthy forms of idealism are sacrificed on the altar of compromise and practicality in a diverse group,” and that’s a good thing.


Chapters six and seven discuss ways that we can empower the marginalized to work for mission, sharing power and building relationships with the poor, and chapter eight calls us away from a capitalist growth mindset and towards flourishing.  I underlined nearly everything in this chapter, which rejects numbers-based evaluation of mission work that “accepts growth as the sole measure of health.” Humans were not created to be efficient organisms, and God is much more interested in our proximity than our production.  God wants us to be near him, and as we pursue our own spiritual flourishing, the kingdom will come to earth.


If I can be personal for a minute as I conclude this — A dozen years ago I was in Southeast Asia, serving with one of those large organizations that sends Christians overseas. And frankly, looking back, it’s hard for me to imagine any other way that a 22 year old girl could have gotten to a university in rural Southeast Asia without the support of an organization that found me the job, trained me to do it, provided language support, and handled the details of visas and health insurance.The graduate degree in Intercultural Studies that I was able to get through generous support of others greatly strengthened my ability to serve well there. I love that sending organization, believe in its many strengths, and would never want to see it dismantled.


At the same time, because I love it so much, I love what this book offers it and other such organizations. A Biblical exhortation to avoid numbers-based evaluation.  (May we never again fill out a questionnaire asking us to estimate how many “spiritual conversations” we’ve had this semester!) Prophetically imaginative ideas for local partnerships, local oversight, and reciprocal relationships.  Ways that we can lose the clunky armor and instead, pick up five small, smooth stones to co-labor with God in the subjugation of evil. May Scott Bessenecker’s book light the prophetic imagination of church leaders and missionaries everywhere.


Amy Peterson teaches ESL and works with the Honors Guild at Taylor University.  Follow her on twitter, or read more at Making All Things New.


C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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