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Here is a book worth reading and giving to your Leadership and Missions team. Its just 120 pages of A5 text yet packs a punch with foundational stuff!

Review

Missions- How the Local Church Goes Global; Andy Johnson (Crossway, Illinois: 2017)

The book begins with a foreword by David Platt, President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasising the practical nature of this book for local churches and pastors and concludes, “I wish every pastor and leader of every local church could read this!” (15)

Chapter One, “A Biblical Foundation for Missions,” reminds the reader that the mission of missions is primarily spiritual, and that the priority of missions is the stewardship of the gospel – evangelism and establishing Christ’s church. Johnson uses largely New Testament texts to guide in understanding the mission, how it advances, what kind of missionaries we should support, and what our goal should be. The chapter promotes four biblical principles, “the mission of missions is primarily spiritual, the mission belongs to God, for his glory, on his terms, God gave the mission to the local church, and the Bible tells us all we must know to faithfully fulfill God’s mission.” (29)

Chapter Two, “First Things First,” stresses what the gospel is, for if churches do not have this right, nothing will be right. Johnson reminds the reader that the glory of the gospel – rather than the neediness of people – is the “self-sustaining fuel for global missions.”

Chapter Three, “Sending and Supporting Well,” shows that the sending, supporting, and caring for missionaries, and being discerning about those whom we send, should be saturated with biblical instruction. The reader is reminded that churches should do missions ministry in ways that are urgent and wise, which includes thorough assessment, training, and care of missionaries. Johnson wisely points out that churches should not seek the latest gimmick or single solution strategy to the missionary problem fuelled by a need for speed. “Missionaries aren’t world travellers with a full passport. The best missionaries tend to go to one place and stay there, sometimes for the rest of their lives.” (48)

Chapter Four, “Getting the House in Order,” reminds churches to send and support missionaries with a high value on quality rather than quantity. Churches should support those who share their same missiology, methodology, strategy, and vision for field ministry and Christ centred missions. There is very helpful counsel for churches whose missionaries are involved in creative access ministries, “Is he really doing the things he claims to be doing, or is he actively lying to his host government?” (66) In this chapter, Johnson reminds the reader, “Beware of a focus on speed, numbers, and magic bullets… The work of missions is urgent, but it’s not frantic.” (68)

Chapter Five, “Healthy Missions Partnerships,” counsels that sound missions ministry should be based on six broad priorities for global gospel ministry. It should be 1. Servant-minded, 2. Pastor-led, 3. Relationship-based, 4. Commitment-centred, 5. Congregation-wide, and 6. Long term focused.

Chapter Six, “Reforming Short-Term Missions,” provides guidelines for short-term mission trips. The 21st century has witnessed the phenomenon of short-term teams going around the world. Many teams from different churches often frequent identical locations in revolving-door fashion, involving career missionaries in ministries that they would normally avoid, that offend nationals, and that focus on numbers for reports back home, leaving behind syncretism and nominal Christianity. Johnson helps churches think through their short-term ministries to avoid this error and enables them to prepare their teams for more effective involvement. Not only does he speak to what a short term mission trip should be so that it is helpful, but he also gives ten points that a participant should consider when going on such a trip. This should be given to every participant to read before he or she agrees to go on such a trip.

Chapter Seven, “Engaging the Nations by Other Means,” encourages churches to think outside their passports by being involved in reaching the nations from home. To do so, they must research to learn who is around them and take initiative to get involved in the lives of internationals with hospitality and other needed ministries. They can support missionaries wisely and interactively. Churches can also be instrumental in ministering through international expatriate churches, which requires orientation in leading multicultural teams to minister interculturally.

This volume concludes with six “next steps” for churches and their members. A final quote from this excellent little book sums up one of the key dangers of our Western mindset: “Frantic speculation and guilt are weak motivators compared with the truth of God’s unstoppable plan to rescue every child for whom Christ died.” (120) God has a plan to reach and teach the nations today, and He does not need our managerial missiology.

This book is a very helpful resource for thinking through what the local church should be and do regarding the Great Commission.

It’s an excellent introduction for mission teams, leaders, pastors and churches seeking to be involved in missions to extend the kingdom and bring Christ glory among the nations. It is clear and concise, faithful to the commands of Jesus and practical.

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