A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey


A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, Gary B. McGee

Baker Academic, 2004, 239 pp    ISBN 0-8010-2648-2


Moreau is professor of missions at Wheaton College.  Corwin is associate editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly.  McGee is professor at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.  They have put together an excellent overview of world missions.  By necessity it is highly information dense, making it a little bookish.  The text is enriched with quotes, case studies, and sidebars from Tom Telford’s books on missions.  Chapters on preparing and sending are especially practical.  Scott Moreau’s entire Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions on CD Rom is included!


The major sections focus on Scripture, History, Candidate, Sent One and Sender, and Contemporary World.


Missions – “the specific work of churches and agencies in the task of reaching people for Christ by crossing cultural boundaries.

Mission – “broader, referring to everything the church is doing that points toward the Kingdom of God.” (9)


“Traditionally, a missionary was a person who crossed cultural boundaries to establish new outreach on behalf of Jesus and plant new bodies of local believers.” (18)


“A missionary is a prepared disciple whom God sends into the world with his resources to make disciples for the kingdom.”  (18 quoting Ada Lum)


“If every Christian is already considered a missionary, then all can stay put where they are, and nobody needs to get up and go anywhere to preach the gospel.  But if our only concern is to witness where we are, how will people in unevangelized areas ever hear the gospel?  The present uneven distribution of Christians and opportunities to hear the gospel of Christ will continue on unchanged.” (20 quoting C. Gordon Olson)


“He is interested in every person in the world right from the start, and that interest does not change over time.  Because of this intense interest in every person, God is in the process of making himself known long before missionaries arrive on the scene.  Mission is God’s project, and he graciously allows Christians to take part in it.” (28)


“In essence, the story of mission from that time on [The Fall] has been the story of

God reaching out to humans, who are asked to choose sides.” (30)  “He pursues Adam and Eve after the fall and promises the solution to their (and our) brokenness.” (31)


“Now we are Abraham’s seed by faith, and the earth’s families will be blessed only if we go to them with the Gospel.  That is God’s plain purpose.” (32 quoting John Stott)


“Just as God called one person (Abraham) to be a blessing for the whole world, so now he begins with one land (Israel) to renew the whole earth.” (34 quoting William Dyrness)


“As his ‘kingly priests,’ ‘the whole nation was to function on behalf of the kingdom of God in a mediatorial role in relation to the nations.” (36 quoting Walter Kaiser)


“As Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, so also Israel is expelled from the land.”  (37)


“The New Testament is a missionary book in address, content, spirit and design…  The New Testament is theology in motion more than theology in reason and concept.  It is ‘missionary theology.’” (40 quoting George Peters)


“To be a disciple of Jesus is to bear his message and continue his ministry.  Nothing less will do.”  (45 quoting Don Williams)


“In Luke, Jesus is not only the sent one, but also the sender of others.  This is clearly portrayed in two key passages: Luke 4:18-19 and 24:46-48.”  “That three of the four [infinitives in Luke 4:18-19] are related to preaching is an indication of the thrust of the means of Jesus accomplishing his mission, and yet, ‘For Luke the spiritual is primary, yet the liberation it brings is holistic.’” (47 quoting Larkin)


“The story of the church as portrayed in Acts is the story of God’s mission.  That story continues to focus on sending and going into the world, calling peoples of all nations, tongues, and tribes to glorify God through living worshipful lives.” (52)


Although the epistles do not focus on a theology of mission, five key themes of mission can be observed: God’s mercy extends to all people.  Mission involves a message.  Mission faces a supernatural opponent.  God is sovereignly in charge of mission.  We are Christ’s ambassadors.  (65-6)


“There is perhaps little theology of missions as such in the New Testament because it is in its totality a missionary theology, the theology of a group of missionaries and a theology in missionary movement.  Thus it does not present a theology of missions, it is a missionary theology.  (65 quoting George Peters)


The core idea of mission is the sending of someone or something to do a job. (71)


“Missions is a specialized term.  By it I mean the sending forth of authorized persons beyond the borders of the New Testament church and her immediate gospel influence to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in gospel-destitute areas, to win converts from other faiths or non-faiths to Jesus Christ, and to establish functioning, multiplying local congregations who will bear the fruit of Christianity in that community and to that country. (72 quoting Peters)


On the other hand, mission is “the total biblical assignment of the church of Jesus Christ.  It is a comprehensive term including the upward, inward and outward ministries of the church.  It is the church as ‘sent’ (a pilgrim, stranger, witness, prophet, servant, as salt, as light, etc.) in this world.” (72 quoting Peters)


Mission Dei is a comprehensive term encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on earth.  It is broader yet than mission. (73, referring to John McIntosh)


Piper makes God’s glory and our reflection of his glory through worship the guiding themes for mission theology.  (79)  In line with those themes, “the core of our responsibility of reflecting God’s glory through worship is (1) to engage in evangelism and church planting, as well as (2) discipling those who enter the kingdom and enabling local churches to thrive and grow, (3) while glorifying God by living lives that act as salt and light in a hurting world.” (79)


“No matter how broadly Christians may choose to define mission, they must not lose sight of the eternal perspective.  The central need of people is to be reestablished in a living relationship with a loving God—to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.” (85-6)


“The mission of the church is that it be used by God (1) to witness to people about the reconciliation offered in Christ; (2) to invite people to worship their creator by leading them to Christ; (3) to incorporate those led to Christ into local church contexts; and (4) to teach them as people reconciled to God, to obey all that Christ commanded in being salt and light in the world.  All four components are necessary and integral to the mission of the church.” (88)


The review of missionary efforts in the 19th and 20th century packs in a great amount of valuable information. 


“During the first two decades of its work in India, the number of missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) who died outstripped the number of converts.” (127 quoting Robert, 1996, 81)


Paternalism – the practice of controlling others by acting like a parent without giving them responsibility for themselves. (136)


“China represented the largest investment in personnel and funds in the history of Protestant mission, with over five thousand missionaries serving there by the mid-1920s.”  (143)


“Over the century, Pentecostalism in its various forms produced the second largest family of Christians after the Roman Catholic Church, one that transcends traditional walls of separation between Christians.” (148)


“Never before in the history of Christianity had so much attention been placed on mission and missions than in the latter half of the twentieth century.” (153)


“The West has not simply become secular; but pagan.  Furthermore, ‘its paganism, having been born out of the rejection of Christianity, is far more resistant to the gospel than the pre-Christian paganism with which cross-cultural mission have been familiar.  Here, surely, is the most challenging missionary frontier of our time.’” (154 quoting Newbigin 1986)


“The great surprise at the end of the twentieth century came with the realization that the gravity of Christianity had shifted to the southern hemisphere, signaling the end of Euramerican domination.” (154)


Good discussion on “the missionary call,” what it means and doesn’t.  (159 ff)


“God gives every Christian the body of Christ as a resource to confirm his or her calling and leading.  Whoever ignores this tremendous resource does so at their own risk!” (164)

Somewhere along the line our thinking got badly fuzzed by the notion that anything we do for Jesus qualifies as ‘missionary’ work.  Your neighbor breaks his leg and you take him to the clinic.  Does that make you a missionary?  Of course not.  It makes you a kind person, not a missionary.”  (166, quoting Jim Reapsome)


“The overall goal of missionary training is to equip the prospective missionary to be a godly person who is both competent and effective in his or her missionary service.” (173)


For successful cross-cultural adaptation a person needs skills or development in four important areas: character traits, ministry or professional skills, specialized knowledge, and social skills.  (175)


Important Character Traits

Genuine dependence on God, humility and teachability, fruit of the Spirit, emphasis more on people than task, ability to withhold unproductive criticism, flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity, empathy, openness in communication style, high cognitive complexity (rejecting simplistic stereotypes and unnecessary black-and-white judgments), good personal relational skills, perseverance.  (176-78)


Internet sites to find opportunities:,,, (182) 


The best way to develop ministry skills is to engage in ministry.  (183) [You wanna’ learn to swim?  Get in the water! Dlm]


“Social skills are one of the crucial areas of specific knowledge that the missionary needs.  They are specific; that is, they apply in a particular setting and may or may not apply in any other setting in the world.” (185)


For mission training programs, see (187)


Seven questions to ask when choosing a mission agency by John McVey (192)


A spectrum of tentmaking options by Patrick Lai (198) 

Questions to ask about tentmaking opportunities (199)


“Mission that engages in relief and development but omits evangelism, discipleship, and church planting is not truly holistic mission; it has simply replaced one focus for another.” (202 quoting Myers 1995)


“Only a community of believers who themselves have chosen to reject the materialist spirit of the age can stir its members to pursue genuine self-sacrifice abroad.” (211 quoting Jonathan Bonk, 1991)


A set of questions to ask if you are considering marrying someone from another culture by Bill and Carol O’Hara (215)


The challenge of home assignment: How do you tell the story of four years in ten minutes—or even less? (220)


“You can exercise and sustain personal leadership only to the extent of your capacity to bear pain.  If you can bear only your own pain, then you can’t really lead.  If you can respond to and bear only the pain of your family, then your family represents the full scope of your leadership potential.” (228)


“The most important factor in your effectiveness and happiness overseas is the way you relate to other people.”  (233 quoting Ted Ward)


“Foremost among the roles that churches play as local manifestations of the universal church is to prepare members for Great Commission work (Matt. 28:19-20).  Churches do this by teaching the full counsel of God regarding the global task, by preparing all members to find and perform their particular part in it, and by sending out those called to go (see Acts 13:1-3; 3 John 5-8).” (244)


Regarding mobilizers.  “Their credibility…is assessed on the basis of multiple years of consistent quality service.”  Their goal declared goal is to serve the churches.  (246)


“No task related to the sending function is more important or foundational in the local church setting than keeping the vision of outreach and mission before the congregation.”  To get the message to capture the hearts of God’s people requires 1. a right balance of information with inspiration, 2. good pathways for gaining experience in service to the task, 3. the reinforcement of targeted and effective teaching and training, and 4. resources that make a difference.  Among the most helpful is ACMC.  (246-249)


“The twin realities of the church’s particular vision and giftedness, together with the global strategic needs of the gospel task, need to be regularly overlaid and reflected upon.  Decisions will be required regarding (1) geography and peoples, (2) frontline and support personnel, (3) ministry areas, and (4) short-term versus long-term endeavors. (249)


The “P-Words” (purpose, power, people, people-moving, passport, preparation, possessions, projects, partnership) can serve as guidelines for educating and motivating children in missions.  (248)


“Today, short-term mission trips are as common as high school proms….”  Some general characteristics:  (1) conducted directly by churches, (2) one to two weeks, (3) mostly people under twenty, (4) primary focus is on spiritual growth of participants, (5) “a lot of sound missiological principles are being violated, and vast sums of money for mission are being spent without a lot of positive results to show for it.”  Of course, some churches are making a great contribution in various places.  (254)


A foundational rule regarding culture and communication:  “People interpret your words and actions in ways that make sense to them.” (268)


“Worldview essentially describes the way people understand and interpret the world around them.” (268)


Ten Commandments for Short-Term Mission Trip Participants, one set by Howard Culbertson and one set by Paul Cull.  (280)


Financing Missions.  “In short, things are deteriorating to a point that without a genuine revival it is hard, humanly speaking, to envision North America making a significant contribution to world missions much longer.  Fortunately, God operates beyond human limitations to accomplish his purposes.” (283)