Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Book Reviews Page 1 of 9

Book Review: Relational Missionary Training

In 2006 Enoch Wan introduced his paradigm of “Relational Realism” in an article in the Occasional Bulletin of the Evangelical Missiological Society. This paradigm sees reality as defined by the vertical relationship with the Triune God and the horizontal relationships between created beings. In 2017, together with Mark Hedinger, he published the book, Relational Missionary Training: Theology, Theory, and Practice. Essentially, the book applies the relational realism model to the task of training missionaries.

The book aims to provide a foundation for this paradigm. Therefore, the authors look at theological, educational and practical aspects of the model. Their purpose is to describe the paradigm and show how a training program could be developed along these lines.

Relational Missionary Training

The authors also note that the book is written with missionary trainers in mind.1p.15 So, that makes me part of the target audience.

The book contains four parts:

  1. Theology (Chapters 1-3)
  2. Theory (Chapters 4-5)
  3. Practice (Chapters 6-8)
  4. Summary and Conclusions (Chapters 9-10).

Stott on The Christian Life: a book review

John Stott’s messages at the Urbana Mission Conferences greatly influenced a number of missionaries of my generation. So, when Stott on the Christian Life: Between Two Worlds by Tim Chester came out this past summer, I decided to review the book. It is #16 in the Crossway’s series, Theologians on the Christian Life. See my post a few years ago on this series, and why it is a valuable resource. Why should missionaries read this particular book? I will focus on some key themes that make this book (and John Stott’s writings) an important read for missionaries.

Shaped evangelicalism

Throughout the book, Chester emphasizes how Stott’s life and ministry has shaped evangelicalism. The author writes in the Introduction:

. . . the more I have explored his theology in its historical context, the more I have realized that it has been Stott, perhaps more than anyone else, who has influenced the evangelical world I inhabit. So it is not just that Stott reflects evangelicalism; evangelicalism reflects Stott. A contemporary evangelical understanding of the Christian life was not simply something Stott regurgitated; it was also something he significantly shaped. 1Tim Chester, Stott on the Christian Life, Crossway Books, 2020, p 12.

Shaped the Lausanne Covenant

missions in midst of crisis
Photo by Denniz Futalan from Pexels

Book Review: Practicing Hope: Missions and Global Crises

Every year the Evangelical Missiological Society publishes a monograph containing papers from the previous year’s annual meeting. This year’s title is Practicing Hope: Missions and Global Crises, edited by Jerry Ireland and Michelle Raven. Yet before we assume the book is talking about COVID-19, we need to remember that when these papers were presented, no one knew a pandemic was coming. Jerry Ireland notes:

Practicing Hope

In September 2019 almost 300 missionaries, missiologists, sociologists, theologians, anthropologists, and students gathered near Dallas for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society. The theme was “Missions Amid Global Crises.” I do not think that any of us would have dreamed that eight months later the world would be engulfed in a global pandemic because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).1Jerry Ireland and Michelle Raven, eds. Practicing Hope: Missions and Global Crises. Evangelical Missiological Society, 2020, xiii.

Overview of book

Though none of the twelve chapters address the current pandemic crisis, these papers give us much to learn and apply. The chapter titles are:

Wellness after 40
Photo by Tristan Le from Pexels

A book about planning to live well after 40

Wellness for the Glory of God: Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life by [MD Dunlop, John]

What does wellness look like after 40? Why should we care? We find helpful and practical answers in Wellness for the Glory of God: Living Well After 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life by John Dunlop, MD. The author focuses on wellness in the second half of life.

In the introduction, he explains what the book is about:

What strategies can we who are getting older adopt that will maximize our chances to endure the challenges of our later days and continue to be well? The essence of this book is expressed in the title. Wellness depends on living with a purpose that goes beyond the here and now. Over and over I have seen that one way in which Christians can stay well in their twilight years is to keep their focus on God, his greatness, and his glory.1John Dunlop, Wellness for the Glory of God, Crossway, 2014, p 12.

The suggested strategies call for changes that can make a difference as we age. Consequently, starting at age 40 is not too early.

Defining Wellness

Dr. Dunlop takes a wholistic approach to wellness. He writes:

. . . wellness is much more than physical health and freedom from distressing symptoms. Wellness involves the whole of our being, which includes six distinct areas: physical, mental, social, financial, spiritual, and emotional. These areas of wellness are not independent but are all interrelated. Each area contributes to the wellbeing of each of the others. At the same time, struggles in one area may distract from wellness in each of the others.2Dunlop, p 21.

A Preventive Guide to Raising Healthy TCKs

Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids: A Practical Guide to Preventive Care by Lauren Wells is a preventive guide that offers a whole toolbox of practical helps for parents of TCKs. Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids: A Practical Guide to Preventive Care by [Lauren Wells]This book is a recent addition to the SEND U wiki MK/TCK Resources page for the parents of MKs/TCKs. A few weeks ago, Sharon Wicker reviewed another resource from that wiki page.

Filling a gap

On this page are several books that have been go-to resources for years. They are tools that are great for helping parents and others to understand what a Third Culture Kid is. These books help us understand how growing up in a culture different from one’s parents will shape and impact who we are. Two books in particular do a great job describing what a TCK is. They are Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken and Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century by Tanya Crossman.

These books and many others explain who the TCK is (the good and the bad), so that others can understand them better. But the whole emphasis is on the TCK. It is important to understand your TCKs and to be aware of who they are. It is also very important to be aware of both the challenges they face and the benefits they can experience as a TCK.

Book Review: Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture

Too often, in my opinion, books on spiritual warfare start from experience and speculation and then hunt through Scripture for proof texts.

Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach takes a different approach. It begins instead by surveying the Bible’s teaching on spiritual warfare from Genesis to Revelation and then develops practical applications. William F. Cook III and Chuck Lawless are both professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with extensive pastoral experience. Their book not only contributes to our understanding of what the Bible teaches about spiritual warfare but also provides a model for exploring any topic for those who believe the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice.

Promising Endorsements

As the reader opens the book, the endorsements and forward raise one’s expectations for what lies ahead. Clinton E. Arnold (who has written a few books on spiritual warfare) has this to say about the book:

Many Christians do not realize that the theme of spiritual warfare pervades the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Bill Cook and Chuck Lawless develop and explain this crucially important theme and draw out numerous practical applications. This well-written book will change your perspective and it will motivate you to a greater dependence upon the Lord through prayer. I only wish they had written it thirty years ago when I started my teaching career.1William F. Cook and Chuck Lawless, Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture, B&H Academic, 2019, 1.

Telling a Better Story is about listening to the stories of others and telling the Gospel story.

Telling a Better Story – a book review

What does telling stories have to do with apologetics?Telling a Better Story: How to Talk About God in a Skeptical Age by [Josh Chatraw]

My interest was sparked when I saw this new book on apologetics focusing on telling stories earlier this summer. Apologetics has traditionally been oriented to philosophy and logic. Yet most people understand life through stories they seek to practice. Expressing the reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15) is best communicated through stories. People relate to stories better than to formal syllogisms. Josh Chatraw’s new book, Telling a Better Story: How to Talk About God in a Skeptical Age (Zondervan, 2020) reimages apologetics for today’s context. The book is divided into three parts: Part 1 – A Better Story About Apologetics; Part 2 – Offering a Better Story; Part 3 – Objections to the Story. He writes the following about apologetics:

Once viewed as a tool to win debates, apologetics is now becoming more focused on generating productive conversations that open doors for people to consider the gospel. Rather than encouraging others to use what Charles Taylor refers to as “conversation-stoppers” (e.g. “I have a three-line argument which shows that your position is absurd or impossible or totally immoral”) or what Alan Jacobs refers to as the habit of “militarizing discussion and debate,” many apologists are emphasizing the need for Christians to become better listeners who seek to understand the person thay are speaking with before making appeals. This enables us to meet people where they are and find points to affirm before finding points to challenge.1Josh Chatraw, Telling a Better Story, Zondervan, 2020, p 19.

Listen to their stories

The author wants us to listen to their stories because they are windows for understanding. Stories, both big stories and little stories, are purveyors of culture and worldview. Stories explain life. They answer the big questions about the meaning of life and how to live well. Chatraw writes:

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