Finish The Mission (A Book Review)

by Aaron

Book Review: Finish The Mission

For years there has been a dichotomy in the church when it comes to what believers are called to be and live. I know of churches who teach every teenager who travel through their youth ministry that they are each meant to be an overseas missionary and that they are somehow less serious of a believer if they do not become one. I also know churches that are so inwardly focused that they do not send anyone out. But today there is a growing trend that understands the “sending,” which we are all called to, as simply local.
In 1978 Frank DuBose in his book God Who Sends first used the term “missional,” since then it has become the buzz word for many movements that seek strictly to define God’s mission for His people as merely local (though I highly doubt that is what DuBose intended).
Even at Element we encourage and call people to “live on mission.” By that we mean that all of us in a sense are involved in cross-cultural work. When a missionary goes to foreign countries they learn the culture, they learn words that are used to describe “things,” they learn the family and social dynamics…in the same way, we that do not live overseas, have many similar experiences as well. We live, work, and go to school with people who do not know Jesus and so we are also called to missions work exactly where we are.
The word “Missions” is rooted in the Latin for “to send” and “missionary” can be understood as “sent ones.” We are all sent ones, but there is a core shift in the American church that is both good and bad when comes to its emphasis for, and on, missions. Where many older churches have placed the majority of their focus on “missionary” meaning “over there,” many younger churches have placed the entire focus of “missionary” to mean “right here.”
The truth is that the word means both, and that is the essential push of Finish The Mission (Crossway 2012). Finish The Mission is a book that helps redefine mission in terms of “missions.” It is edited by John Piper and David Mathis and is comprised of 6 chapters by 6 different contributors. I have always enjoyed Ed Stetzer’s insight and found his chapter to be the most helpful, though John Piper’s was excellent as well.
For people to think that missions work is only overseas leads to a disengaged people in their own city. Those who attend local churches may even begin to think that what they do with their lives (raising their children, loving their spouses, working their jobs) is not as honoring to Jesus as living in hut, eating bugs, and learning a foreign culture.
As I said, I have known churches where everyone was told they needed to find a way to be an overseas missionary, as if that is the only spiritual thing they could ever do…but I have also known churches who lead everyone to believe that the most spiritual thing they could do is to be “in ministry” which, to them, would translate to “work in a church.” How sad it would be if those were the only things people ever saw as “spiritual.” Think about it, there would be no garbage men, no plumbers, no farmers, no loggers, no automobile makers, no one to make your pizza…and ultimately there would be no church and no missionaries because no one would have a any money to support locally and send internationally.
We must understand that the jobs people do are deeply spiritual, they are good in the eyes of God. We are told that our God works and values work. All that we do is meant to be honoring to Jesus and is a deep act of worship…this includes our jobs and our homes…and it is all to be lived “on mission.”
In remembering our own sent-ness to the culture in which we live, we must never forget that there is also deep calling of having a special vocation of a “missionary” as a person sent to unreached people groups around the globe.
Let us never forget one or the other, hand in hand…we are sent and the senders, all for the great glory of Jesus. Let’s Finish The Mission.