The West is now not the only major player involved
in global missions. With many third world Christians coming to
theological maturity and entering the worldwide field of
missiology, the more familiar names connected with missions like
Wheaton College and New Haven are being expanded to include
Nairobi, Manila, and Sao Paulo. Missions has become global.
Everybody is doing missions, as should be the case; but this is
forcing a rethinking of our traditional concept of missions.
Much of the newer emphasis in North America
regarding the “missional church” is also challenging us to
reconsider our Western paradigm of missions, which has tended to
see missions as something primarily focused on evangelism and
independent church planting, disconnected from holistic theology
and especially the church. The church, for example, has been
viewed from a pragmatic position as a place where we only get
missionaries and support for their mission effort. This has been
described as the typical western pattern of doing missions.
At the same time the North American church is
being challenged to rethink its concept of missions, this kind of
rethinking is going on globally by those involved in missions from
around the world. The hope is that a newer and better grounded
missiology will emerge. However, as I read many of the books being
written from and for both arenas, I conclude that it is simply an
attempt to return to a more biblically based paradigm. We have so
romanticized missions in recent years and made it an
individualistic focus that we have failed to ask good and hard
questions about God’s intention, both for the church and the
That is no longer the case as this book and a
number of others are reminding us. For example, some of the
questions involve the connection of missions to the local church.
Is missions something a church does or is it something a church
is? Does missions simply involve evangelism and church planting or
is there more from God’s perspective? Another question relates to
the church and kingdom. So much of our missiology has reflected
not only a misunderstanding of missions and the church but it also
has not brought front and center the place of the kingdom and how
the kingdom concept impacts our missiology.
In this volume, John Corrie writes that in the
past we have failed in three major areas, thus setting the agenda
1. We have failed to consistently integrate
missions and theology. This has caused two results—a divide
between missions and theology and a separation of the missional
concept from theology.
2. We have not always understood the importance of
an interrelation with missions, theology, and context; hence much
effort by missionaries has been to communicate a Western version
3. In Evangelicalism, we have not incorporated a
holistic view of missions, theology, context, and evangelism.
Therefore, we have narrowed a view of missions to simply deal with
one’s personal relationship with God rather than reconciliation
with God, with others, and with creation.
Corrie suggests the old Western view of missions
tends to teach and emphasize converts and church plants but has
little emphasis on making disciples. Maybe that is why some are
saying that globally the church is a mile wide and an inch deep.
This book addresses those kinds of issues.
I was so pleased with Corrie’s section on the
kingdom of God. We agree that the kingdom concept is the missing
link in understanding God’s mission from His perspective. He says
that most of the mission movements “often see little or no role
for the kingdom of God in society, politics, or creation. For
many, their sole aim is to plant churches.”
The section on the church by Tormond Engelsviken
of Norway also challenges us to rethink a number of things about
the church, especially as it relates to its missional role in the
world. He underscores, with others writing in this area, that the
church is not simply a sending agency for missionaries; the church
in its very nature is missional.
The topics in this dictionary are alphabetically
arranged and also include topics on enculturation, accommodation,
syncretism, and the sovereignty of God. This will be an important
book as these kinds of discussions continue. Corrie says that it
is written for church leaders, missionaries, students of missions,
those involved in the teaching and practice of worldwide missions,
and the non-specialists. I encourage all these categories of
audiences to read this book, especially church leaders, in order
to further explore the many definitions of a missional church. The
church is only partially, at best, demonstrating a missional