Read What is the Mission of the Church?: Making sense of social justice, Shalom and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung Greg Gilbert Adam Verner Online


Addressing mission, evangelism and social justice, two pastors draw readers to the Bible's teaching on some contentious matters.   Readers in all spheres of ministry will grow in their understanding of the mission of the church and gain a renewed sense of urgency for Jesus' call to preach the Word and make disciples....

Title : What is the Mission of the Church?: Making sense of social justice, Shalom and the Great Commission
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ISBN : 9781610452113
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 9 Pages
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What is the Mission of the Church?: Making sense of social justice, Shalom and the Great Commission Reviews

  • Bryan Neuschwander
    2019-06-12 23:30

    I wanted to like it, alas. I tried. The book reminded of this wonderful, troubling short story Jesus once told about a homeless hitchhiker who was walking along the road, was waylaid by robbers and left for dead on the gravel shoulder. A Reformed Christian pastor happened by and decided to write an theologically correct exegesis of what the Old and New Testament had to say about his predicament. Soon another pastor, Baptist this time, passed by, and, seeing the disarray of social injustice, the flagrant misunderstandings of shalom and the kingdom--not to mention the new heavens and new earth, decided to collaborate with the first Christian pastor to survey the relevant literature, to discern and declaim any suspect interpretation, and to ensure orthodox understandings for the church. Meanwhile, across the pond, a former Anglican bishop and New Testament scholar wrote a few pages to remind them that Jesus actually told a whole drama of 5 (not 4) Acts; and an Old Testament clergyman and scholar, another Anglican unfortunately, chimed in with a short pamphlet observing that the whole of scripture is on the mission of God. They couldn't both be right, could they?And while they all spoke thus together concerning these things which were about to be accomplished among them, a young punk from Portland saw the homeless, battered and bruised, and now actually dead hitchhiker and called the coroner. He contacted next of kin, prepared a brief memorial service, and paid the funeral expenses with his own credit card.Now the immortal question at the end: which of the men shared the gospel with the homeless dying man? But Jesus told that story a long time ago, and I may have misremembered some of the details.

  • John
    2019-06-03 05:27

    Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert are both pastors. They preach on a weekly basis in towns with universities and passionate young people who don’t want to waste their life but want to be on mission. And there’s the elusive word: mission. Slick like water in our hands, the word gives way to countless definitions and usages, agendas and abuses, leaving many Christians and churches confused about their mission. Answering the question of what the church ought to be doing is controversial. Enter DeYoung and Gilbert.Careful Work of DefinitionDeYoung and Gilbert do the difficult work of defining the mission of the church, supporting their view by answering objections with reasonable responses to difficult social and economic concerns. They argue that the mission of the church can be found in the Great Commission passages: “[T]o go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”However, the authors do not say the church should ignore social justice. Rather, they are concerned that the newfound missional zeal can put hard and fast oughts on churches where there should be “an inviting can.” Finishing the definitional spadework, the authors spend a good portion of the book pinning the discussion of the church’s mission in the context of the (1) entire narrative of the Bible, (2) definition of the gospel, and (3) an “already/not yet” understanding of the kingdom. None of these chapters give any surprises. However, the chapter on the definition of the gospel does make some helpful clarifications. The casual observer of debates over the gospel’s definition may assume that Gilbert, based on his book What Is the Gospel?, defines the gospel in terms of the question, “What is the message a person must believe in order to be saved?” (what the authors call a “zoom lens perspective”). But they also explain in this new volume what they call a “wide-angle” perspective of the gospel that includes the entire good news of Christianity, which is about “all the great blessings that flow from that, including God’s purpose to remake the world.” All the great news of Christianity (wide lens), according to DeYoung and Gilbert, flow from the message of repentance and faith in the atoning cross of Christ (zoom lens). That center must hold. Without it, the greater blessings of the new creation are not ours to have.Now to Everything ControversialThroughout the book, the authors are very careful to make their conclusions from the Bible. But after several chapters of groundwork, they come to the classic “social justice” texts and give them the ol’ “they don’t say what you think they say” treatment. It’s important to point out that the authors are working in an historical-redemptive framework, based upon their chapter on the narrative of the Bible. When these texts are understood in their canonical place, application for forced redistribution programs or disparaging the disparity between rich and poor seem superficial. For example, Leviticus 25 (the Year of Jubilee) is a popular passage for social-justice advocates. When we understand the passage in redemptive history and the closer context of Leviticus, a few things caution us against using the text for radical social applications: (1) We are not in an agrarian society. (2) Our property is not allocated by God, particularly assigned for specific tribes of Israel. (3) Our economy is not a fixed pie of wealth where the rich get rich on the backs of the poor, but rather in our modern economy, wealth can be created. (4) We are not under the Mosaic Law and aren’t promised a miraculous harvest on the sixth year. And finally, (5) most of us our not Jews, and the distinction of foreigner and Israelite was very important to Leviticus 25. Even so, the authors do not want us to undersell what the Bible says about the poor and social justice. Put very aptly, they write, “To be a Christian, then, is to receive God’s good gifts and enjoy them the most, need them the least, and give them away most freely.”DeYoung and Gilbert's treatment of the new heavens and new earth offers a particularly important caution. They are concerned that “there are a number of people who have argued that we as Christians at least have a hand in the creation of the new heavens and new earth—that we partner with God in his mission to restore the cosmos.” This is at best confusing and at worst dangerous. The new heavens and new earth is God’s gift, through the gospel, and we simply receive it. It is “in all its parts . . . for us, and not in the least by us.”An Important ProposalDeYoung and Gilbert make some significant and practical proposals for the local church and their social involvement. I’ll mention one of them. They propose a “moral proximity” principle, which helps churches understand who we are not only in obligation to help by way of proximity, but also who are we morally obligated to help. The key word, of course, is obligated. While AIDS work is good, is a church a “gospel-less” church if it does not engage in it? The authors are right to say no, but the principle is not meant to “make us more cavalier to the poor. [I]t should free us from unnecessary guilt and make us more caring toward those who count on us most.”This may be one of the more helpful portions of the book for local churches concerned not only with global troubles but also their community concerns. How they decide to use their resources can be difficult, and this principle is a good one to help them decide.But What About Discipleship?In these rough-and-tumble debates over the mission of the church, DeYoung and Gilbert are on the side of the angels, I believe. They make clear but not simplistic conclusions about difficult issues while keeping their fingers in the biblical text. Their conclusions will not be popular with everyone, but those who want to refute them must be as biblically and theologically sophisticated. That won’t be an easy task. But with some caution, I’d suggest we not make such a sharp distinction between acts of public justice and the mission of the church. DeYoung and Gilbert are very clear that works of justice are not somehow sub-Christian, but “tasks like disciple making, proclamation, church planting, and church establishment constitute the mission of the church.” And they go on to emphasize, “We as Christians should be marked by a posture of love and generosity toward our neighbors, and that includes everyone, according to Jesus, from our best friends to our worst enemies.” So if having a posture of generosity for all people and a desire for justice in our communities (though never perfect until Christ returns) are marks of being a born-again Christian, then shouldn’t equipping believers to demonstrate these marks with wisdom and care be a part of our discipleship and, therefore, within our larger understanding of the church’s mission? Yes, with bold font and yellow highlighter, I agree with DeYoung and Gilbert that central to the church’s mission is the Great Commission. And we need to keep the main thing the main thing. But just as the authors argue for a zoom and wide lens understanding of the gospel, can we not do the same thing with the mission of the church? With the proclamation of God’s Word the center of the church's mission, can we not say the wide lens mission includes equipping Christians to have wisdom and understanding when laboring for justice?Nevertheless, I want to put both arms around DeYoung and Gilbert’s thesis and hug it. It’s the most clearly biblical treatment on the subject I know of. They are clear and gracious towards their opponents, putting them in the best light possible and sympathizing with difficult questions. I hope they get the widest of hearings and that more people think they’re right than wrong.originally posted here:

  • James Ritchie
    2019-06-12 23:54

    Very light, easy and conversational style (always appreciated!).The authors argue that the church's mission is essentially to make disciples. They say God's mission and the church's mission aren't exactly the same. God is the redeemer, the church isn't. Instead they are representatives, witnessing to God's redemptive work in Christ. Their stuff on Jesus' mission statements is gold. Jesus says, I came to preach, call sinners and lay down my life as a ransom for many.Worthy of a read, especially for all those (eg pastors, ministry leaders) looking at the many needs in the world and trying to figure out what on earth the church should be focusing on.

  • David Varney
    2019-06-07 22:32

    A hearty 5 stars from me. I guzzled this one up! As one recommendation from the back cover puts it, 'the kind of biblical sanity we need at this moment.' He is right. Clearly lays out a biblical case for the mission of the church, cutting through a lot of waffle in the process. Lucid, chastising at points, and greatly clarifying, I warmly recommend this book to any church leader.

  • Mike
    2019-06-04 23:40

    The main point of this book is to address what exactly is and (more importantly) what is not the mission of the church. They are concerned that evangelicals are getting too swept up in fighting poverty and social injustice and have forgotten our mission is discipleship. I think I understand their heart to make sure we keep the proclamation of the gospel the main thing in the church and not making social justice or helping the poor our primary calling. This is the strength of the book - word ministry is a non-negotiable and ought to be at the heart of all we do. As a conservative Presbyterian pastor I say amen. However, I do think there is some unbiblical narrowing of what the Bible calls us to be and do in the world. Perhaps a better way to say it is that the authors end up disconnecting word and deed ministry and at times pits them against each other when there is no need to do so. There were a lot of frustrating false dichotomies running through the book - sacred vs. secular, spiritual vs. physical, word vs. deed, faith vs. works, private piety vs. public justice. Sure, Matthew calls us to make disciples of all nations but that includes obeying all that Jesus taught - including the church MUST be salt and light and not do away with one letter of the Torah (which calls us to protect the rights of the poor and the immigrant, etc.). So the book is not successful because their thesis that our mission is to make disciples full stop does not acknowledge that making disciples by definition requires putting God’s Word into practice. They acknowledge a place for good works in the life of a believer but do not connect them to our discipleship or our mission.The Bible from the beginning shows us that God's people are called by God for the sake of the world and that one of the main ways we bear witness to God is by being a holy people (Genesis 18:19). The OT sets the trajectory for the mission of God's people that continues into the NT and much of this has been understood well for the first time in the past generation of evangelicals like Christopher Wright. The authors dismiss much of this gain in my opinion. In fact I think they misread Wright and Stott at times. Stott and Wright affirm the primacy of the Word, so they are really quibbling with those who abuse Stott and Wright and in wanting to guard the primacy of the Word they end up with a reductionistic mission. Their doctrine of creation and its connection to our redemption is also a weak spot in the book. Our redemption is returning us to properly functioning humans again and this is a huge component of any faithful witness. No one would dispute that our primary problem in the Bible is our alienation from God, but the Bible also says a lot about our alienation from one another and from the creation. We can’t say that our salvation has nothing to do with reconciliation with others and with a restored ruling over the creation.The book is to its credit focused on working through Scriptural texts. However, there are some ridiculous statements such as "God's old covenant people are never exhorted to engage in intentional cross-cultural mission" and "there is not a single example of Jesus going into a town with the stated purpose of healing or casting out demons." They want to affirm the importance of “demonstration” as well as “declaration” but their treatment texts that connect demonstration to our mission they undermine because some have abused them. However, the abuse does not negate their proper use, and I’m concerned their handling of such texts will lead many to deemphasize the importance of good works in witnessing to a community.The fallacy of the excluded middle runs through the book as well. They pit their view against an extreme view that very few actually hold and leave out addressing the middle positions. I think many “missional” types reading the book would find themselves saying quite often, “that’s not what I believe” or “that’s not a fair summary of my view”. Perhaps some have changed God's mission into saving whales and poverty programs and forgotten evangelism. Well, there is a middle position that keeps proclamation and evangelism central while also seeing a life lived in obedience to serve others even outside the body as a nonnegotiable to our mission (Titus and 1 Peter make this strong connection in the NT as do many other texts in the OT and NT).I see their heart and I understand their intention - to rein in some evangelicals who are a little too "missional" in the sense that the central mission loses focus on discipleship and specifically evangelism. However, I do not think this book will succeed with the intention, unfortunately. I think any of these types will be further pushed away by the unfairness of their statements about "missionals" (for example, missionals basically don't carefully read the Bible!). The more likely outcome of the book is that those who are too comfortable in their churches will use this book to justify staying comfortable and not reach out to their neighbors with word or deed. This is not their intention, and in a sense it is not their fault. I think it is their fault for not discerning what most conservative churches need (which is of course their primary audience and they know that!).I would recommend this review by Ed Stetzer, he can say it way better than I can: would also recommend this wonderful sermon by Dr. Brian Fikkert (prof. at Covenant College) on primacy of the Word but also the necessary marriage between word and deed in our calling to the world. Also, he's tall:

  • Brian Collins
    2019-05-29 01:51

    DeYoung and Gilbert argue that the mission of the church is the Great Commission: "the mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering those disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father" (p. 241). Much of the book provides helpful responses to those who extend the mission of the church so broadly that the core of the Great Commission is minimized or lost. They convincingly argue that the missio dei and the mission of the church do not necessarily coincide, that incarnation is not the best metaphor for church ministry, and that Stott's interpretation of John 21 is not the most accurate. They could have made their argument stronger, however, be canvassing Acts and the Epistles for further indications of the church's mission. They rightly argue that gospel can refer to all the good that results from God's plan of redemption, but the rightly center the gospel on the provision of atonement and how it may be received by individual humans for salvation. They rightly tell the story of Scripture as centered on humans and sin rather than on creation and corruption, but there does seem to be some overcorrection. The Creation Blessing/Mandate gets little play in the redemptive historical survey chapter. In a later chapter it is reduced to something that Adam failed to do, that no other human is tasked with doing, and that the Second Adam will accomplish apart from our work. This incorrectly ties the Creation Blessing with Adam's probationary test. Genesis 1 and 9 present the Creation Blessing as something that all humans have, even though it is now twisted by the Fall. It is not uniquely Adamic. DeYoung and Gilbert view the kingdom of God as a spiritual reign of God in men's hearts. While Ladd, whom they draw on, is correct that "reign" rather than "realm" is foremost in the NT concept of kingdom, it is difficult to reduce the NT teaching about the kingdom to the spiritual realm alone. Involved is the regeneration of all things. They do get this right in their chapter about the new heavens and the new earth, in which the carefully delineate what we can and cannot say about continuity and discontinuity between the two. DeYoung and Gilbert rightly correct loose talk about building the kingdom or bringing in the kingdom and instead point out that Christians await the kingdom. Even so, there ought to be an emphasis on living consistently with the anticipated kingdom in one's present vocations. Two chapters cover the important topic of social justice, and a third deals with doing good works. They show both with social justice passages demand and the correct sloppy interpretations and applications of these passages. DeYoung and Gilbert helpfully show how to avoid pitfalls that equate social justice with particular political programs. They distinguish between the institutional church and the organic church and note that Christians as individuals sometimes must do certain things that the institutional church is either forbidden or permitted but not required to do. Overall, DeYoung and Gilbert have tackled a complex subject and gotten a great deal right. What is more, they have offered a correction to common misconceptions. They could make their argument stronger in the future by reconsidering their treatment of the extent of the Creation Blessing and of the nature of the kingdom.

  • Justin Lonas
    2019-06-02 01:30

    Among evangelical Christians these days, there is a groundswell movement toward cultural transformation—not simply to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ but to do the work of renewing communities and creation as a whole to make ready for the new heavens and the new earth. This philosophy goes by several names with different shades of meaning: social justice, kingdom building, missional ministry, shalom, etc.Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert have written What Is the Mission of the Church? to address this “mission drift” and call the Church to remember that its specific priority is the proclamation of salvation—the redemption of mankind from the righteous wrath of a holy God through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ.Though their aim is to correct a popular level misconception, the authors rightly critique the theologians and pastors who have propagated exegetical and hermeneutical faults to drive the movement. They are careful and nuanced in their argument, but pull no punches when expositing the key passages used as source texts for the other side of the debate (Gen. 12, Lev. 19, Isa. 58, Amos 5, Matt. 25, etc.). The level of scholarship employed and the winsome tone of the book make their case a strong one. The book is not meant to be a polemic against an opposing viewpoint, but rather a plea for all believers to let Scripture, not culture, determine the focus of our efforts in this world. DeYoung and Gilbert are not attempting to undermine the good work done by believers in various venues, rather they criticize such alternative interpretations of the Church’s core mission as “putting hard ‘oughts’ where there should be inviting ‘cans’.” That is, they warn against confusing the good things that Christians may be individually called to do with the overarching goal that the Church gathered must pursue. They carefully define “mission” as the central priority of the Church to which all other activities point and provide support. They point out repeatedly that the Church is given its mission specifically by Christ, and that its mission is distinct from (though part of) the overall mission of God in restoring a fallen creation—our mission is not exactly the same as God’s mission, and we shouldn’t take that unobtainable responsibility on ourselves.Beyond simply articulating the pitfalls of a misdirected mission (i.e., that doing all manner of social good at the expense of Gospel proclamation fails to achieve eternal good), the authors issue a rallying cry for the Church to recapture the excitement and joy that comes from pursuing Christ’s commission to us. They remind readers that what ultimately leads to the transformation believers seek in the world is the blood of Christ and the work of the Spirit, and they challenge believers to remember that God chooses to break into the lives of the lost through the faithful proclamation of His Gospel through the Church. They make the foundational point that the only thing the Church does that no one else in the world will do is to make disciples of Jesus, and that this should be our driving motivation.What Is the Mission of the Church? is a well-written, well-researched, and much needed book—it might be the most important Christian book of 2011. The implications of our interpretation of our mission for the Body of Christ are tremendous.

  • Kent
    2019-05-31 22:34

    I had difficulty with this book, from the cover on. The title, "What Is The Mission Of The Church?" suggests that God's Church is assigned a singular "mission." From my perspective, when a question is written ineffectively, the answers will be ineffective too. From the beginning of the book it is clear to me that the authors want, in fact, they need the Church to have, rather than a dynamic presence and ministry, a singular and linear mission.It seems to me that the authors draw bold, solid lines where scripture draws no line at all or at best a dotted line. My perception of the author's intent is more along the lines of "What Isn't The Mission of the Church?" With great effort they suggest that proper exegesis will reveal that the Bible clearly states everything the Church should not consider her mission. Unfortunately, this isn't so. What part of Jesus' life was not in alignment with the nature and character of God? Part of the power of Jesus' ministry was that he only did what he saw his Father doing. At that point, talk of "the mission" would be unhelpful, unless one were to say, "Jesus' mission was alignment with the Father."Maybe the Church doesn't have a mission, but an invitation to align with the Living God in all of life. To somehow suggest that alignment with the work of God in the world does not include feeding the hungry, clothing those without clothes, and providing homes for those who are homeless, is absurd. And this idea that scripture somehow discourages helping the non-Christian poor is equally bizarre.The argument for "Moral Proximity" is unconvincing too. Any way you slice the pie, you can not conclude that God leads his children by some sense of moral proximity. The Incarnation nukes the idea of moral proximity. Somehow, in all the scholarly approach to the texts, we can lose the simple message of the Gospel, "For God so loved the world that he gave..." My take is that the Church is invited to do what the Father is doing and, what ever it is, it includes loving with both words and deeds.

  • Heather Tomlinson
    2019-06-25 02:30

    There is a lot I could say about this book. In lots of ways, I would feel sympathetic to some of their aims: being faithful to scripture, encouraging evangelism, being sufficiently sceptical about what kinds of social justice to get involved in.However, this book criticises the work of people such as John Stott and Chris Wright - ie those proposing integral mission - to propose that the church's priority should be the Great Commission. In their understanding, that's just preaching and making disciples of Jesus Christ.What was screaming to me throughout the book was, that the Great Commission includes a command to teach others to obey Jesus - and Jesus' teaching is full of things that would be considered 'social action'. This barely gets mentioned - good works should be done as obedience, the authors say, but not as a priority for the church. To me, if you're arguing that a church should be fulfilling the Great Commission, then because that includes teaching people to obey, ie loving our neighbour etc - this shows that social action IS as important as evangelism etc. At least, the teaching of it is. And presumably, Jesus was not meaning that we should be 'do as I say, not as I do'. What is frustrating is that the book frequently criticises others for twisting scripture and reading their own political views into it - yet to me, that is exactly what these authors are doing. I fear this book is becoming quite influential in certain quarters, and that worries me. They say they don't want to discourage social action, but to me their argument could only do this. Jesus told us in language as plain as he could, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, to 'go and do likewise'. Woe betide those of us who ignore this.

  • David
    2019-06-22 04:39

    This one was hard for me. The reason they wrote the book was unclear during most of my reading of it. The point was to emphasize the church's responsibility to spread the good news and to disciple new members. And the authors kept emphasizing that this was instead of helping the poor. I have done some writing calling for balance and emphasizing the need to help the poor, so I was a little put off by the repeated calls for the church not to do that. The trick here is that they see the church as different from a collection of its members. They accept the legitimacy of the institutional church and make a case that its mission is different from that of its members, but all the time protesting that they are not suggesting that we not set out to help the poor. In the final analysis, I still wonder why they thought the book was worth writing. What I did gain from it, I suppose is what they really intended anyway: a renewed commitment to the spread of the gospel of salvation and grace.

  • David Rathel
    2019-06-27 00:34

    Though this book has generated much controversy, I personally found it to be excellent. In fact, I cannot recommend it any higher! When reviewing this book, one must remember what DeYoung and Gilbert are writing against, namely, the more radical elements of the missional church movement. Some missional church proponents "flatten" the church's mission by trying to make every good activity (creation care, social work, etc.) an essential part of the church's work. While DeYoung and Gilbert argue that a church certainly CAN do these things, they intend to remind us here that the primary, essential mission of Christ's church is the Great Commission, i.e., the spread of the Christian Gospel.

  • Cho Yim
    2019-06-03 06:25

    Good book that makes very good arguments that the Great Commission is the mission of the church. Tackles the modern day trend to make the church's mission "social justice" or "good works" or "transform society," etc. The church's role is not to bring change from the outside, but to bring change from the inside. The chapter on social justice is probably one of the best cases I have read on why it is not the mission of the church (though a good thing and an individual call all Christians have). This book helps to focus back on the church's actual mission, helping the church keep the main thing the main thing.

  • Anthony Alvarado
    2019-06-15 23:25

    This is a needed and worthwhile read; a must read. What is the mission of the church? To make disciples of all the nations. You will be utterly convinced that it's as simple as that after reading this book. Good works, social justice, blessing the city, and bringing "shalom" do not mean anything if the gospel is not shared, disciples grown, and eternity impacted. "The danger is real. If we do not share the gospel - with words! - the story will not be told.""Since hell is real, we must help each other die well even more than we strive to help our neighbors live comfortably."

  • Eric Durso
    2019-06-22 00:30

    Really good. Great writing, highly accessible, and on point. Loved it.

  • Daniel
    2019-06-04 04:34

  • Jeremiah von Kühn
    2019-06-12 01:41

    Please read, especially if you're under 30, consider yourself an American evangelical and are big on social justice.

  • Alexis Neal
    2019-06-12 00:54

    Pastors Kevin DeYoung (Just Do Something) and Greg Gilbert (What Is the Gospel?) team up to address a major question among Christians: Just what is the mission of the church, anyway? Along the way, DeYoung and Gilbert address a board spectrum of 'missional' teachings and examine biblical teaching on the Kingdom of God, social justice, and church ministry.If you've read much of DeYoung or Gilbert's work (to say nothing of D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, and Michael Horton, all of whom wrote blurbs for the back cover), you probably have a pretty good idea of what they think the mission of the church is. (Hint: If you guessed the Great Commission, you are correct.) What's new here is their attempt to engage with those who embrace a gospel of the Kingdom or who tend to elevate social justice to the church's primary mission.The book has received some criticism from Ed Stetzer, who claims, among other things, that DeYoung and Gilbert essentially didn't do their homework in preparation for writing this book. I am not up enough on the missional movement (in any of its many forms) to know whether he is correct. It certainly seems fair to say that reading a relatively small number of books in missiology is not necessarily adequate to equip an author to competently represent the missional movement or engage with it in a meaningful sense. If you're going to convince people that they are wrong and you are right, you need to make sure you know what they actually think. The argument is that missional folks feel misrepresented by the book, and if you don't think an author is accurately representing your beliefs, you are unlikely to be swayed by his arguments--he is, after all, arguing against a position you don't actually hold.To be fair, sometimes DeYoung and Gilbert are not accusing the missional movement of holding particular beliefs. So, in their discussion of the gospel, they articulate a very helpful wide-lens-zoom-lens metaphor: the cross is always the center, and some folks are zoomed in on it, and others zoom out for a wider-angle shot that encompasses things like the Kingdom and whatnot. But whatever the gospel is, it must necessarily include the cross. It may include more, but never less--and the cross must always be central. Some of the responses I've seen seem to think that this metaphor is DeYoung and Gilbert's way of accusing the missional/Kingdom movement of removing the cross from the gospel, and they are incensed. But I got the impression that DeYoung and Gilbert were not chastising here, but rather seeking common ground: 'You extol the Kingdom effects of the gospel, and I focus on the cross, but we both agree that the cross is central, yes?' This is a common rhetorical technique, and it seems like some readers misconstrued what was meant to be a conciliatory section of the book.Similarly, some critics take issue with what they perceive as the de-emphasis of good works. Again, this is not an entirely fair critique. DeYoung and Gilbert's point appears to be that the primary mission of the church is to preach the gospel and make disciples, and everything else the church does should facilitate that goal. And I don't think the critics are really arguing with that. Their response is essentially 'but good works and social justice do facilitate that goal!' Which is both true and in no way an indictment of DeYoung and Gilbert. They argue not against good works, but for the proper place of good works--that is, in service of the gospel that has the power to save souls.Then, too, many critics fail to appreciate DeYoung and Gilbert's distinction between the church as an institution and the church as an organism (that is, the people of God). The people of God absolutely have an obligation to love their neighbors and seek justice, and in that sense, it is a mission of the church because it is part of the marching orders for believers. What DeYoung and Gilbert take issue with is whether the church institution is responsible for social justice, such that it is failing in its mission if it doesn't engage with those issues. And I think they make a good point. A good church can--but does not have to (another key distinction for DeYoung and Gilbert)--implement social justice programs. So the church's obligation with regard to social justice are yes and no--as individual disciples, yes, but perhaps not as an institution.As you can see above, a lot of the criticisms of the book are really just examples of people arguing past each other--thinking they are disagreeing when in fact they are in (substantial) agreement. Nonetheless, some of the critiques are valid. This does feel like a book written primarily to those who already agree with DeYoung and Gilbert. I have no idea whether it would persuade the 'opposition,' but I suspect not (not that there's really 'opposition' here, but you know what I mean).Part of the problem is the confusion behind the purpose of the book itself. The title seems indicate an objective study of missiology. And maybe DeYoung and Gilbert would maintain that the book is precisely that. But in reality, the book was designed to address a particular danger: the elevation of social justice above the proclamation of the gospel. DeYoung and Gilbert want churches to keep the main thing the main thing, and not get so hopped up and maxed out on programs and good works that they forget to preach the gospel of a God who died to save sinners. They themselves admit that this is a 'corrective' book--it's written to counter a particular trend, and books like that are necessarily less than mere objective treatises. I suspect this is also the reason for their particular form of preparation--they are not trying to accurately describe the missional movement in all its complexity. They merely did a (fairly random) survey of some of the literature and are now highlighting some of the problem trends that they've seen. Which is not the same thing as writing the definitive book on the mission of the church (which, to be fair, I don't think DeYoung and Gilbert ever intended to do--but the title seems to have led several critics to the conclusion that the book was intended to be a treatise, and they have criticized it accordingly).A few additional critiques of my own:DeYoung and Gilbert talk a lot about their theory of useful social policies--for example, the benefit of making people work for stuff rather than just giving them handouts. This discussion was, I think, more political than biblical. At any rate, a discussion of the effectiveness of various kinds of 'social justice' activities does not belong in a book about whether social justice activities are part of the mission of the church. It's an unnecessary rabbit trail that ends up sounding partisan and detracting from the credibility of their overall argument.The epilogue is an extremely random fictional account of a conversation between a young missional pastor and an older 'regular' pastor. I have no idea what this was supposed to accomplish or why it was included. Perhaps it is a nod to readers who learn better through examples and stories than through principles and theory, but it felt extremely awkward and out-of-place. And long. We got the whole (fictional) backstory of the (fictional) missional pastor, as well as his long, drawn out (fictional) conversation with the (fictional) other pastor and the other pastor's (fictional) advice to him. Is it an example of how missional and ... non-missional folks should interact (i.e., with respect and humility)? I don't know. All I know is, I did not like it, and I did not feel like it contributed anything to the book. And if I were missional, I might be a little resentful of being cast in the 'young, naive-but-enthusiastic' pastor getting advice from the older, wiser pastor who just so happens to support DeYoung and Gilbert's position.I listened to the audiobook, which was available as a free download from last month and is narrated by Adam Verner. Verner did a decent enough job, and certainly sounded earnest, but I think a slightly gentler delivery may have helped convey the humble tone that was, I think, intended.

  • Stan
    2019-05-29 04:51

    I had high hopes for this book. What could be better than gaining an understanding of social justice, shalom and the Great Commission? Sadly, the book didn't go the direction that I anticipated. It is a well written book. The authors have clearly thought about each aspect of the topics. The problem, in my opinion, is that they analyzed each aspect in relative isolation from the others. I believe they missed the forest by looking intently at the trees.This is a tendency in the practice of the Western church. We compartmentalize everything rather than considering everything holistically. For those who understand this, it is easy to see how the authors did this. It seemed like the chapter on shalom was accomplished using a concordance and a word study. They isolated from the full range of meaning of shalom the final eternal shalom in the new heaven and new earth. They conclude that is God's work so man really doesn't need to pursue shalom on earth now. Why not pay more attention to the full range of meaning of shalom and examine the concept of temporal peace, well being, and human flourishing. Shalom is not an either/or, but a both/and.One helpful concept in the book is their discussion of moral proximity. They conclude that moral responsibility is limited by one's proximity to a person or issue. That does help one understand that one is not responsible for eliminating world hunger, but that one does have a moral responsibility to address such a need locally, and especially if it is a need of someone one knows. However, the authors don't seem to consider that their book could be read by people outside the US where some issues of social justice are imminently present. Such a consideration might have changed their presentation of the idea, at least a little. When talking about human trafficking (or not talking about it) the idea comes across that it is the responsibility of people "over there" to deal with such an issue. The authors don't seem to realize that human trafficking takes place in the US too.One verse that the authors never discuss is the Golden Rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That verse is huge for followers of Jesus. It brings everything down to earth. It may even provide an override for the idea of moral proximity. If I was the victim of human trafficking I would want anyone to intervene. So, should I also not attempt to intervene for the victims of human trafficking?The book is thought provoking. However, the reader should pay attention to the inter-relatedness of all things in life. Being a disciple of Jesus is about a lifestyle of obeying His commands. As disciple makers, we must be able to teach new disciples how following Jesus works in the world with all its problems and concerns. These authors seem (to me) to have missed that. Their book seems geared to white, middle and upper class folks in the USA, rather than being geared toward a potential global audience.

  • Daniel Woodfield
    2019-06-05 22:45

    I love the balance of this book, quite frankly. Although the basis for Deyoung and Gilbert's argument is is inductive biblical exposition (I say 'although' because I know that not all will follow their methodology), they end up being rather fair. In fact, I would say very fair. And this fairness is important, because it allows the church to reasonably understand its own mission: paralysis often comes when we think we should be doing everything. When everything is baying for our attention, the tendency can be to feel that doing something is, by our very acts, choosing not to do something else with our time and resources, and so we feel guilty.For this reason alone, I think this book is important reading for movers, shakers and candle-stick makers in churches! If local churches can grab this vision of making disciples, caring for those within the church, providing resources for those in proximity, understanding the need to love, I imagine that much 'social justice' would flow out of hearts which are being shaped by loving actions within church communities. This is a helpful book, it's easy to read, and it will hopefully cause its readers to reflect on their own attitudes towards giving and caring for those in need.

  • Simon
    2019-06-18 05:48

    I basically agree with the big idea of the book and most of the details. But if the book was meant to persuade missional evangelicals, it was a big flop. I'm not really in that camp so I wasn't personally concerned by this. But the authors didn't define key terms (church, good works, etc.) and failed to incorporate biblical theology and covenant theology into the discussion. The last three chapters should have been amongst the first five chapters in order to properly set up their critique of the left-wing of evangelicalism. But alas.Still, the chapters on social justice and good works were as good as any that I've read coming from the Reformed camp.

  • Joey
    2019-06-25 00:45

    Easily my least favorite of DeYoung's books - it was simply too wordy. I'm guessing that's a result of partnering with Greg Gilbert for this one. probably the most valuable part was the final narrative illustration of the concepts described. Honestly, that section and the exegetical portions are all this book needs. The rest is not helpful enough to include if you want to understand the thesis and it's supporting evidence.

  • Jonathan Klimek
    2019-06-08 23:37

    What Should and Shouldnt the Church Be Doing? DeYoung answers this question with great clarity and Scriptural support. It is important for the church to understand the difference between her primary and secondary responsibilities, to ensure that the church doesn't place unnecessary pressure upon herself or neglect the main thing.

  • Joshua Reichard
    2019-06-14 02:37

    A book focused on the mission of the church. Helpful to those who have forgotten or have never been told why we have the church and what the church is for. Deyoung and Gilbert do a heart job at being clear about social justice and the Hebrew word shalom. They also do a good job at using OT texts to help readers see the value of the OT.

  • Ian Hammond
    2019-06-06 23:53

    Clear. Balanced. The mission of church is a subject of much confusion. Thankful for this book! This is a thorough critique of much of what is considered "missional." I agree with Michael Horton, "It's the kind of Biblical sanity we need at this moment." Interacts with Christopher Wright's, "The Mission of God," frequently. References Keller's work, "Generous Justice," mostly positively.

  • Alun Jones
    2019-05-28 02:30

    Good stuff. I found the latter chapters more helpful as I am already committed to the prime directive which is The Great Commission. Well-balanced treatment of the Cross-Kingdom tension and good practical examples of the missional outworkings.

  • Chris
    2019-06-21 01:36

    Absolutely excellent! I wish I had read this book 10 years ago.

  • James Bunyan
    2019-06-12 05:31

    (review is for my own purposes)My only criticism is that it could have been stronger on how God delights to have his children participate in the mission. There's a danger that a little bit of passivity comes in but that's a little harsh because this is generally a very carefully written book that is helpful and that many should read.PART 1: UNDERSTANDING OUR MISSIONChapter 1- A Common Word in Need of Careful DefinitionVery careful not to dissuade Christians from engaging in all sorts of ways in society and doing good there in all they do. Nonetheless, argues that there is a need to really nail down a working definition of the church's key mission and, in so doing, freeing Christians from a false guilt to fix all the world and from a skewed perspective. Offers the view that the church's mission is to "witness to Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations.""If we hope only for renewed cities and restored bodies in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied."Chapter 2- What in the World Does Jesus Send Us into the World to Do?First deals with 3 passages often used to show that the Mission of God's People is more holistic than just disciple-making; Genesis 12: 1-3, Exodus 19: 5- 6, Luke 4: 16- 21. They argue that these say much more about what the LORD is doing in the world and a lot less about the church's mission, which seems to be to proclaim the truth of what Jesus has come to do.Then goes on to deal with the Great Commission passages, arguing that these are key because:1. It is the clearest place where how the Church should conduct the mission is explicitly commanded2. A fullest definition of mission is likely to come from the New rather than Old Testament3. Similarly, from Jesus, the centre of the faith4. The Great Commission passages are placed at a key moment in the Bible5. They seem to sum up all the teaching of their respective gospelsThe passages dealt with are:-Matthew 28: 16- 20-Mark 13: 10 & 14: 9-Luke 24: 44- 49-Acts 1: 8-John 20: 21-Paul's exampleIn some ways, the book's conclusion comes here, with a definition given at the end of the chapter of mission.PART 2: UNDERSTANDING OUR CATEGORIES3. The Whole StoryA Bible overview4. Are We Missing the Whole Gospel?Best chapter in the book, discussing the difference between the wide-angle gospel and the narrow-angle gospel. Really, really helpful.5. Kings and KingdomsThe Kingdom of God is all about God's King!6. Making Sense of Social Justice: Exposition7. Making Sense of Social Justice: ApplicationApplies all the passages from the previous chapter in really helpful ways. A little politically conservative though, may lose some people.8. Seeking ShalomPART 3: UNDERSTANDING WHAT WE DO AND WHY WE DO IT9. Zealous for Good Works10. The Great Commission MissionThere's something worse than death and something better than human flourishingEpilogue: So You're Thinking of Starting a New Kind of Church?

  • Bryan Reeder
    2019-06-09 06:46

    I have read a couple of books now by DeYoung. This was definetely a deeper read. I was challenged by the different between the great commission and community outreach/social justice.

  • Gabe
    2019-06-21 03:47

    Really interesting book. Good thought-provoking words on Missions.

  • Austin Hoffman
    2019-06-12 01:49

    Superficial reading. Helpful book that makes some important distinctions and clarifies priorities.