Changing the Mind of Missions Paperback – 18 Feb 2000
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"Engel and Dyrness give us a provocative and pregnant book. Fearlessly grappling with critical missions issues for the West, they have provoked us to evaluate the presuppositions of conventional missions as they are, as well as its reductionisms. They have judged our culture and our missions systems. But the book is pregnant with the pulse beat of new ideas and new life, pointing us to the journey ahead that will not be painless, but will ultimately rescue us from irrelevancy and/or disaster."--William D. Taylor, executive director, WEF Missions Commission
"Two images captured my attention in this book: local churches as thousands of points of light breaking a vast darkness, and the mustard seed mission of God taking root in Galilee and spreading by fishermen, farmers and tradesmen to the imperial center of Rome. Engel and Dyrness use these metaphors to help us diagnose the structural and ministry malaise of modernism in our churches and mission organizations. They then point us back to a Christ-centered and Holy Spirit-directed agenda for missions for the twenty-first century. For leaders committed to reuniting their churches with the mission of God, this book is a valuable resource for reflection, discussion, and practical suggestions for change."--Sherwood G. Lingenfelter, dean, School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary
"A prophetic and practical guide to reframing our churches and mission organizations for the new realities of global ministry in the twenty-first century. A 'must-read' for everyone interested and involved in contemporary world mission!"--Paul-Gordon Chandler, president/CEO, Partners International
"As a mission leader, I see daily evidence of the positive impact of missionaries around the world. Thus I'm stung by the subtitle "Where Have We Gone Wrong?" On the other hand, I'm also alarmed by the subtle and scandalous effect of modernity and Western management ideas on much that happens in missions. I affirm the authors' passion for the church to follow the lordship of Jesus Christ in her missionary methods. The diagnoses in this book are accurate, the recommendations are precisely right, and the tone is hopeful. I hope we'll all study this book slowly and reflectively, letting it perform the necessary therapy on our unconscious but unhealthy approaches to missions."--Jim Plueddemann, general director, SIM
"Few people are more qualified to grapple with the future of missions in our rapidly changing world than Jim Engel and Bill Dyrness. Engel is a researcher and strategic thinker with vast experience in consulting with missions worldwide. Dyrness is a missionary theologian with grass roots experience in missions coupled with a theological mind. This is a provocative and challenging book which all mission leaders should study carefully."--David M. Howard, former president, Latin America Mission
About the Author
Engel is founder and president of Development Associates International and retired distinguished professor in the graduate programs at Eastern University, where he founded the Center for Organizational Excellence. He has ministered around the world as a consultant, trainer and leadership-development expert and is well known for his books and writings on world evangelization.
William A. Dyrness (DTheol, University of Strasbourg; Doctorandus, Free University) is dean emeritus and professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and is the author of several books on global theology.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Very few Americans are intellectually or spiritually, capable of profitting from this book.
I, too, found the fictional case study presented to be of little value, but did not find it significantly distracting.
However, in the few pages in which the authors described and praised the "mega-ministry" of Perimeter Church in Atlanta, Georgia, I thought I could not help but wonder if the story did not get inserted by mistake from the word processor of the Public Relations or Fund Raising Departments of Perimeter Church itself. How they could present Perimeter Church as anything but an another example of American excess, that makes anything vaguely reminiscent of the Gospel a travesty, I do not know. Within that example, they again praise a sister 17,000 member congregation in Guatamala City, which cannot be anything other than another example of the ineffective Christianity that the book is warning against. A "gospel" with has no "good news" for anybody, let alone somebody in trouble. I think they could have safely used these 2 churches as examples of what they were speaking against rather than their fictional account.
So puzzled am I by this lapse, that I'd like to hear from the authors themselves as to whether they are serious about the rest of the content of the book in view of their praise for this church in Atlanta.
Engels and Dyrness define missions as "the announcement, embodiment and extension of Christ's reign in the world, by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father" (27). Such a definition does not necessarily preclude missions organizations, per se, but does force the leaders in the church to view such organizations as expendable, if need be. The authors aim to see evangelicals reorient a missions-focus by redefining the Great Commission around Jesus' kingship being advanced by kingdom communities throughout the world (88-89).
One of Engel's and Dyrness's central criticisms is leveled at the "institutional-bureaucratic" model of missions (and by implication, the Church). Before they level a critique of the modern structure (and aware that doing so will force them to give their own alternative), the authors begin a succinct biblical theology of missions. Like most, if not all, missions projects, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 is the foundational text. However, unlike most Evangelical mindsets, the authors see Christ's words as a normative statement of his universal kingship over the cosmos. Christ has invested his people to go make disciples--extending that divine presence and bringing humanity into conformity with that call. Christ's saving work applies not only to humans, but to all of creation. Creation will be restored. Christ makes such work possible by sending his spirit. In the larger context, this is the missio Dei--"the mission of God and by God" (37). Missions involves the Triune God interacting with his creation.
Mission is the extension and joyful proclamation of the inauguration of Christ's reign on earth. Missionaries and strategic planners must resist the temptation to reduce the gospel to a set of propositions. If that is the gospel, then merely restating those propositions to a "people group" would constitute as "reaching them." Rather, missions must seek to engage the whole man and by implication, effect social transformation. The authors are to be commended for a bold vision for missions. However, there are a few flaws with the presentation. They should, if at all possible, state what kingdom-oriented communities would look like on the practical level. Secondly, they used the term "postmodernism" too loosely. To what degree do they seek to be postmodern? The term can be interpreted ambiguously. If by postmodern they mean challenging modernity's arrogance, then by all means let's be postmodern. But if they take a radical definition and mean the denial of truth-claims and the Christian meta-narrative, then we must oppose the use of the term. In fairness to the authors they probably meant the latter. Not all of the topics of missions were addressed in this review but the book warrants further study and will serve as a useful primer.
However, for the rest of us, this is particularly applicable. I can't address others' comments about this book being out of date, since the authors have been writing since before I was born, but it was a great read for me in helping think through my own involvement with missions, and working through my understanding of what the Gospel is supposed to be.
it definitely challenges some ideas about para-church organizations, while trying to give some solid action points. Although some may claim this is outdated, I would also argue there are many many churches who are still behind in working/thinking through some of these ideas to see what they can and should implement for the greater glory of God.
If you're interested in missions, and understanding what role various communities of Christians can and should play, this book will be great for you.