Changing the Mind of Missions – James Engel & William Dyrness

            This book was very thought provoking in regard to the future of missionary work in the world and its effectiveness in the west.  The main focus of the book was the examination of the declining effectiveness of missionary efforts that are being propagated by those in western culture.  The book takes an unapologetic look at the western church’s ties to modernity and its way of life.  This really helps those involved with the topic recognize that there is a source to the problem besides the usual standby, that “God warned us that things would get worse.”  This book evaluated what is going on worldwide in missions and how the western church could effectively partner with the rest of the world in making true disciples of Jesus Christ.              There were quite a few strengths in the book.  One of which was the dissection of the harmful practices that were adopted from modernity.  The authors accurately presented that the practices of N.T. disciple-making are not equal to the practices of modernity that the western missionary movement has equated them with.  The strength in this was that the authors presented some hope for effective disciple-making that would entail global partnerships.  This diagnosis and the entailing suggestions most certainly are closer to the N.T. model of indigenous churches (instead of the outwardly-reliant churches that are being planted worldwide).  Another strength was the call to authentic disciple-making.  This is a sad reality that is not just being propagated by western missions outside of their own borders, it is happening within western borders.  It is a worldwide epidemic that must change, just as the authors have called for.            In regard to weaknesses in the book, there would be a few that I noticed.  One of which was the biblical hermeneutics of the authors.  There were a few places that the authors applied Scripture in a way that was not accurate.  There are many places we could find in the N.T. that tell us to imitate Christ, but not Jesus’ request of Peter to “follow Him” at the end of John.  I believe that the call to social reform is a noble one, but I don’t know if I would go as far as the authors would in that respect.  I believe that this would be a possible area of weakness.  I think this area would be cleared up if I knew the author’s heart more on this issue, it is sometimes difficult to discern the totality of their motives in one book.            The idea of partnership and encouragement from western churches instead of dominance and lack of independence were excellent points that I came away with.  Great information and exhortation to us as we make disciples in this world for the glory of God.  The ideas that I will attempt to implement in my ministry would be to carefully research what the methods of ministry are, when evaluating a missionary candidate; reasserting the emphasis on the necessity of concentrated discipleship for life-change in our churches.  I recently read this statement by A.W. Tozer, “The church has two goals in this world: to spread Christianity where ever it goes, and to make sure that the Christianity that she spreads is the N.T. kind.”  This book was a great exhortation and tool toward that realization. 

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