I just finished reading The Changing Face of World Missions: Engaging Contemporary Issues and Trends, which is written by Michael Pocock, Gailyn Van Rheenan, and Douglas McConnell. It was one of two texts presented to me this semester to be covered in one of my latest seminary courses. While I consider myself to be somewhat missional in mindset, world missions is something that I readily applaud others who are more graced to walk in.
In reading this book, it recounts the issues and trends that have been faced in world missions from the days of the early church to the present. It also distinguishes the difference between what is a fad and what is a trend. As such, it presents many aspects of the challenges as the pertain to globalization, migration and a changing demographic, the impact of technology, appeals to the supernatural, the change of Christianity from being centralized as a Western religion to globally becoming more Southern and Eastern.
What I like about this book is simply how it is laid out. It begins to give you a look at all of the issues and trends by putting it all in a globalization context. Then it breaks it down into a missional context. This second section begins the shift to thinking of how we understand what was shared in the first section has been dealt with by those currently in the trenches and what challenges that have been met as a result. The final section deals with strategies that have been fleshed out as a result of what has been learned and presenting ways it may help in the ongoing endeavor, looking towards the future.
This book come chock full of information that has been well researched, spotlights on case studies and people who have been instrumental in developing thought and strategies over the years. People like C. Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso, Dr. Billy Graham are but a few names that readily stood out to me.
I would say this book is a great resource for teaching, training, building up a team of missionaries for local and global missions outreach. It’s more than a resource for pastors and other church or ministry leaders. It is for any Christian who has a heart for reaching those who have not heard the good news. It will help you see why your current methods or practices may or may not be effective in the given place you are trying to engage. Things like, philosophies, other religions, language, perceptions of the missionary, and technique all can make a difference. If you have such a heart to carry the gospel and present it effectively, you would do well to consider adding this tool to your arsenal.
QUESTION: If you recognize that you have been called to local or global missions but haven’t stepped out of the boat yet, what question might you have that you would hope this book answers?