Book Review: “When Missions Shapes the Mission” by David Horner (2011)

“You and Your Church can Reach the World.”

I am the unofficial missions director at my local church. I have been to the mission field; I plan to return to that same mission field; I eat up anything missions. My pastor will call on me anytime to preach a message on missions or to share with the people what is going on with our missions program, and I enjoy every minute of it. And so I was immediately drawn to this book by David Horner, for it is a book on the vitality of having an international missions program within every local church.

I must admit that when I first began reading the book, it seemed more like a dissertation with a fancy cover than a motivating read. Section One, titled “Where We Are,” sets the stage by dissecting one denomination’s missions statistics, discussing the hurdles the church needs to overcome, and then describing how far off target evangelicalism has gotten in terms of reaching the world with the Gospel. I took my sweet time getting into the book, because this foundational material seemed a bit old-hat to me. But once I delved into Section Two, “Where We Want to Be,” my interest was piqued once again. I finally got comfortable with Horner’s writing style, and his straightforward approach to bringing the problem/solution elements together finally sunk in. By Chapter Four, I was hooked.

Horner writes not only to pastors—though this certainly will be his main audience—but to all church leaders whose heart for missions far outweigh that of their local churches, and he does so by revealing some very difficult questions: Is your church fulfilling the Great Commission to the best of its ability? Is your church focused predominantly on its internal affairs, leaving international missions to one Wednesday night offering per month? Has your church lost its energy for evangelizing the nations? Horner writes from the perspective that for too long we have served God through missions out of duty, not out of a desire for God’s glory. Until we crave Jesus’ magnification in the world through the work of the Spirit, our “best efforts” in missions will continue to take us farther away from true success. We will view international missions as financially burdensome and a waste of precious time, and soon enough, we will abandon it altogether.

Horner then reveals just what missionaries have been forced to go through to find the means that will get them to where God has called them, bringing to mind the wholesale failure of the church to make missions a financial priority (i.e. over church landscaping, entertainment, etc.). If we Americans are giving our tithe (10%) to God through the church, shouldn’t the church give its tithe to God as well through missions (or do they spend the full 100% in house or locally)?

Beyond the financial relationship between the church and missions (which one must admit is certainly important), Horner also focuses on the spiritual relationship, measured by the attention churches have been giving missions. He questions the reader: Does your church’s pastor bear the responsibility of pushing missions or has he delegated it to a missions director or committee? If so, has he personally lost all interest in missions, never focusing on it in his own messages? Does the church host missionaries often? Do they hold conferences or special Sundays? Do they communicate with their missionaries and pray for them regularly, or do they just cut them a periodic check? After surveying many evangelical churches, Horner discovered what he called “best practices” for getting a church’s mind back on the harvest fields. This information fills Section Three, “How to Get There.”

I encourage you to read this book if you or your church has recognized its failure to give international missions its proper place. Not only will is inspire you toward change, it will share with you some mighty helpful steps toward that change. While the book is perfect for affecting change in pastors and church leaders, it is ultimately meant to change the heart of the people. So truly, this book is for anyone, and that it to whom I recommend it.

©2011 E.T.

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Gallery | This entry was posted in Book Review, Charitable Organizations, Church Health, Church History, Church Planting, Ministry, Missions, Non-Fiction, The Gospel. Bookmark the permalink.

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