The Second edition of From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices, and Emerging Issues among Muslims, edited by J. Dudley Woodberry
contains reports and analyses of the Global Trends and Fruitful Practices Consultation in 2007. The consultation included almost 500 people from around the globe involved in outreach to Muslims. The book is a tremendous resource for anyone involved in Muslim ministry. Many of the fruitful practices would find application among other people groups as well. The tone was upbeat and realistic.
The Introduction reports:
Muslims are following Jesus throughout the spectrum of types of contextualization – from those in traditional churches using non-indigenous language to secret believers. A majority of the fellowships are in what is called the C3 to C5 range – that is, from using the Muslims’ language and non-religious indigenous cultural forms and calling themselves Christians to “Messianic Muslims” who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior but remain legally and socially in the Muslim community. -Kindle loc. 213
From Seed to Fruit contains 31 chapters divided into 4 parts:
Part 1, Global Trends: Soils, Seed, Sowers, and First Fruits. The seven chapters in this section provide an overview of the current situation. Chapter headings are:
- 1. Look at the Fields: Survey the Task
- 2. Unplowed Ground: Engaging the Unreached
- 3. The Imperishable Seed: Toward Effective Sharing of Scripture
- 4. Laborers from the Global South: Partnering in the Task
- 5. Sister Laborers: Partnering in the Task
- 6. First Fruits and Future Harvests
- 7. Grain and Weeds: Trends in the Field.
Part 2, Fruitful Practices: Sowing, Watering, Gathering and Reproducing. These 8 chapters focus on the fruitful practices identified at the consultation. The chapter headings are:
- 8. Eyes to See, Ears to Hear
- 9. The Sowing of Witnessing
- 10. The Watering of Discipling
- 11. The Gathering of Reproducing Fellowships
- 12. The Equipping of Leaders
- 13. The Gathering of Teams of Laborers
- 14. Descriptive List from Plowing to Harvest
- 15. Seven Fruitful Branches.
Chapter 11 observed that, “Merely presenting truth, without modeling transformation of lives, attitudes, and actions provides a weak Gospel message. Living out the kingdom without explanation is just as incomplete.” (Kindle loc. 2695). Chapter 14 provides a list of the fruitful practices identified. Regarding the use of the Qur’an the authors note, “Discretion is needed, as inappropriate references to the Qur’an may validate a seeker’s belief in the divine origin of the book. …Fruitful workers do not dwell unnecessarily on the Qur’an, but use various passages as a bridge to share the biblical gospel.” (Kindle loc. 3511). Chapter 15 “highlights seven themes that proved to have considerable influence on fruitfulness – fluency, storying, reputation, social networks, Scripture use, intentional reproduction, and prayer.” (Kindle loc. 323).
Part 3, Emerging Issues in Fruitful Practices: Birds, Rocks, Sun, and Soil. These 10 chapters explore issues that are ongoing discussions in fruitful practices among Muslims. The chapter headings are:
- 16. Factors Affecting the Identity That Jesus-followers Choose
- 17. Factors That Facilitate Fellowships Becoming Movements
- 18. Bible Storying and Oral Use of the Scriptures
- 19. Expatriates Empowering Indigenous Leaders
- 20. Are We Nourishing or Choking Young Plants with Funds?
- 21. Relevant Responses to Popular Muslim Piety
- 22. Pre-Field Preparation to Sow
- 23. The Effects of Language and Communication Choices
- 24. Transforming Social Networks by Planting the Gospel
- 25. Attractional and Transformational Models of Planting.
Some of these chapters are more controversial than others. The issue of identity in chapter 16 is an ongoing discussion.
Part 4, Merging Issues in Global Trends: More Birds, Rocks, Sun, and Soil. These six chapters lead to the conclusion of the book. The chapter headings are:
- 26. Islamism and Receptivity to Jesus
- 27. Toward Respectful Witness
- 28. Peacemaking and Church Formation
- 29. An Integrated Identity in a Global World
- 30. Recapturing the role of Suffering
- 31. Grace and Truth: Toward Christ-like Relationships
- Conclusion: Gathering Around the Lord of the Harvest.
Throughout the book the following focus is clearly evident:
We seek to share the gospel respectfully and boldly, without compromise. We believe an important part of dialogue is explaining why the “good news” is good news! -Kindle loc. 7708
Through dialogue, we work toward mutual respect, graciously bearing witness to our faith and working toward religious freedom. Ultimately, we long to see as many as possible reconciled with God, through the person of Christ. -Kindle loc. 7710
In the print edition there is a CD-ROM that contains an extensive appendix. The Kindle edition only contains a portion of the appendix.
This volume will inform and encourage the reader. Anyone involved in Muslim ministry should carefully study this book. Even if you are not directly working with Muslims, it will help you pray more effectively for those who are.