Series: The Jesus Way #7
Published by Herald Press on March 30, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Theology
Buy on Amazon
What does God’s mission look like? Who is supposed to carry it out—and how? Juan F. Martínez leads us on an inquiry into God’s mission in the world: what it is, what it is not, and who is invited to be part of it. If Jesus is truly God’s mission incarnate, we need to look at what Jesus did and how he did it. Martínez helps readers understand what mission means, why Christians in the past have made missteps, and how we can learn from Christian communities that are spreading the good news of Jesus today. Doing mission in the way of Jesus may look different from what many assume, but it is a call that the church cannot afford to miss.
The Jesus Way is a series of short introductory theologies on various foundational topics written by a diverse community of pastors and scholars from the Anabaptist tradition. As I’ve grown in my own faith, I’ve found myself leaning ever and ever more toward Anabaptism because of how they have managed to blend evangelicalism with a robust theology of social justice and focus on church as a community. Even as a seminary-trained pastor, I have found personal devotional value in these foundational and accessible volumes because of their (unfortunately) unique perspective within evangelicalism.
This volume is called What is God’s Mission in the World? Juan Francisco Martinez and Jamie Pitts join together to write a brief answer to this question and explore how the church has gotten it wrong over the years. It’s this latter point that makes the book stand out in particular. Throughout history, “the church on mission” has often taken the form of imperialism and colonialism with cultures having Christianity forced upon them. The authors are clear that this form of mission is not the Jesus Way and instead offer an alternative the does.
In particular, they present the church as a missional community. Too often, “missions” is relegated to ministry “over there” and is meant to be done through supporting other people who live in other places or through short-term “volun-tourism” efforts. Instead, Martinez and Pitts write that it is within the local congregation that mission begins and is best expressed. Being a church on mission is about living in the way of Jesus. We seek to live as Jesus did: to combat injustice, to heal the sick, to pray for those in need, to feed the hungry, and so on. This view of mission expands our traditional concept of a program that happens outside the church community and makes it one that is vital to the church community.
Martinez and Pitts also write that mission is incarnational. It isn’t tied to any particular language or culture, but just as Jesus moved into the neighborhood and became part of first century Jewish culture to enact his mission, so we should also seek to adapt our own lives and ministries to the culture we are working within. We have to remove the cultural baggage of Western Christianity in order to present a pure Gospel. This is important whether it is in ethnic cultural differences or socioeconomic cultural differences. It’s simple, but powerful, and forces us to focus on how Jesus would express himself within a certain culture or context.
What is God’s Mission in the World? has the power to be a paradigm-shifter in how we view our work in the church, whether in our local communities or abroad. It’s a clearly-stated, no-nonsense blueprint that details what we’ve done wrong, where we can go right, and what we must do to get there.