Item description for The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God's Plan for the World by M. David Sills...
Overview Ideal for individuals struggling to answer key questions surrounding a possible call to missionary service, a guide explores biblical, historical, and practical aspects of discerning and fulfilling God's call to serve as a missionary. Original.
Publishers Description Christians of all ages recognize the heartbeat of God to take the Gospel to the nations and wrestle with the implications of the Great Commission in their own lives. "The Missionary Call" explores the biblical, historical, and practical aspects of discerning and fulfilling God's call to serve as a missionary. Pointing the reader to Scripture, lessons from missionary heroes, and his own practical and academic experience, Dr. Sills guides the reader to discern the personal applications of the missionary call.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God's Plan for the World by M. David Sills has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Christian Retailing - 07/07/2008 page 39
CBA Retailers - 07/01/2008 page 100
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More About M. David Sills
M. DAVID SILLS (Belhaven College; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Reformed Theological Seminary) is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He joined Southern Seminary after serving as a missionary in Ecuador. Dr. Sills is the author of The Missionary Call and two books on the Highland Quichua: Quichuas de la Sierra and Capacitacion Pastoral En La Cultura Quichua. David and his wife, Mary, have two grown children.
Reviews - What do customers think about Missionary Call?
Great Book Jan 11, 2009
This is a great book for anyone trying to determine God's plan for missions in their life. It's full of practical application from a man who has gone through the experience. The book is currently on its way around my circle of friends who also want a clear response on their call. You'll want to pass it around, too.
Good so far Dec 12, 2008
I have not read the book completely but so far it is really good. I am considering overseas mission work and the author is speaking directly to the questions and thoughts that are running through my head. I'm excited to see what else he has to say.
As one preparing for missionary service, this book is invaluable. Sep 23, 2008
I couldn't have read this book at a better time or at a worse time. I couldn't have read it at a better time because I had it in my grip during some of our final weeks of preparing to go to Japan with the International Mission Board. I couldn't have read it at a worse time for 2 reasons. First, I wish I had the time to write up & interact with every single chapter in detail - what is on the pages is good enough to do so, but because of all the things we are trying to get done before we leave for training in less than a month, I simply don't have the time. Another reason reading it now was the worst time was because I think I could have saved many anxious moments over the last 5 plus years as we sought God's guidance about our call to missions. But being able to read the book at the end of the journey of our calling (just the beginning of our actual ministry) & finding God's plan for us allowed me to validate how helpful this book is & will be for others wanting to know about God's heart for the nations & His will for their lives.
Dr. Sills divides his book into 3 sections in which he covers: I) WHAT IS THE MISSIONARY CALL? II) UNDERSTANDING YOUR MISSIONARY CALL & III) FULFILLING THE MISSIONARY CALL. Four chapters are covered under the first heading. Chapter 1 deals with what is involved in a missionary call - how do you know what it is - how you can identify it. Chapter 2 in many ways is foundational to the book as Sills helpfully explains how to know the will of God at all - not just for missions, but the will of God for anyone's life. Chapter 3 deals with the Biblical basis of missions, again, another chapter that the whole book must stand on - if there is no Biblical case for missions there's no reason to read Sills book. And Chapter 4 is a 101 crash course in the history of missions. I loved this chapter since the Lord used the life of Adoniram Judson to call me into missions. We cannot discount the importance of those who have gone before us as the Lord is pleased to use their life, even way beyond their living years, to bring others into obedience to obey the missionary call.
Part II deals with understanding your missionary call. Chapter 4 is helpful as Sills deals with how specific does your call have to be. If you are not certain the exact city, people group, or organization or God is calling you to, then does that mean you are not called? Sills addresses these issues. Naturally following is a chapter on timing, followed by how to deal with the compatibility of calling with a spouse (what to do if one is called & the other is not).
Part III is a discussion on getting to the field, the hindrances that can slow that process, the challenges once there, etc...The final chapters take excerpts of missionary heroes of the past - unfortunately, no Adoniram Judson, but did you know that Amy Carmichael originally thought she was heading to Japan? I wonder if history for Japan or for Amy would be different on a large scale had she gone there instead. The last chapter pulls the whole book together & ends with a pastoral-like plea by David Sills to obey God's calling in the reader's life. Clearly everyone is called to missions in some capacity, & Sills had clearly, Biblically, & historically laid out that argument throughout the book, but he admits that there is also a personal call, & encourages his readers & even prays for those who God is calling, to respond in obedience.
Reading this book at the last stages of a 5.5 year process to get overseas gave me a sound ability to see how special & helpful Dr. Sills' book is & will be over the years to those who are willing to seek the Lord's face about their role in seeing Christ's Kingdom come to all nations. I enthusiastically encourage any Christian to read this book. I think many have not even prayed about missions because they don't understand what the missionary call is & they can't conceive that they should have a role in it, either at home or abroad. Therefore, read & take heed.
Some of the things I appreciated most about this book follow...First, I think the book was written in a very interactive style. Sills did a great job of pulling the reader in, grabbing their attention, & seemingly speaking to Christians in whatever vocation or stage of life they are in. By interactive, I also mean that I feel like the book served as a sort of counselor. You can tell the flow of the book was well planned & that all possible questions that may rise were addressed on some level. Most of these questions were ones that I have gone to mentors in my life with earlier in our missions call & Sills anticipates what the reader is thinking so well that it is almost as if he is across the table in dialog with you.
I also appreciated the way that Sills was balanced. Thankfully, he spoke truth in saying that every Christian is in fact called to missions, whether that be going, sending, praying, etc...Yet, Sills didn't demonize those who have truly prayed & wrestled with God about their role in missions, & yet God desires for them to stay. He also didn't let those off the hook who haven't wrestled with God in knowing His will without challenging them to do so. And again, those who stay, send, & support & not treated as "lesser Christians" than those of us going. Sills is wise to point out that we need both in order to be successful.
I do not intend to say that certain chapters are more important than others, but I am grateful especially for the chapters on knowing God's will & for the Biblical basis of missions. Often times, it is those of deep, theological bents who can tend to thumb their nose at the notion of things like a missionary call, or may question that God can speak to His children specifically about a people group or a place to serve overseas since those details about our personal lives are not in the Bible. Because Dr. Sills has years of both missionary experience & theological training & teaching, he brings a perfect balance of a missiology fueled by strong Biblical theology, which again, makes this book highly commended reading.
Hopefully, even if it is sporadically over the next year, time will allow me to post some more entries based on this book since there are so many nuggets of gold in it worthy of attention. I am grateful that I have had the chance to read it & that Dr. Sills took the time to write it.
A Must Read for Missionaries-to-be Aug 23, 2008
Dr. Sills does a wonderful job, in the parameters set by the book itself, of introducing the reader to the many historical aspects to our understanding of the missionary call. With the chapters on the historical understandings of what the missionary call means and who has gone before us to the mission field, think Hebrews 11, the reader is better equipped to deal with the challenges that will surely be set before him.
He treats, at length, how to avoid what is called "the paralysis of analysis" whereby a person called to missions never does anything because he or she does not know what to do. He also helps the reader understand that there is room in the Bible for personal convictions regarding the how and where-to's of the missionary call.
This book is a great resource for anyone contemplating a call to missions. Dr. Sills does a masterful job of explaining all that goes into actually getting to the mission field and, more importantly, why one has to seemingly jump through all of the hoops. Some of these chapters would be great as stand-alone "workbooks" for group study in a young college and careers class or even a mini-conference at a local church on missions and the missionary call.
The fact that Dr. Sills pulls from years of experience on the mission field only strengthens the content of this book. While he would never say that he, too, can be listed as one of the heroes in chapter eleven, one would be well-served to learn from this man who has poured his life into the Great Commission.
Christians must read this book! Jul 29, 2008
For a child whose parents did not actively encourage faith in God nor a love for the gospel, I attended a decent amount of church activities. One year, I even received a Bible as a reward for perfect attendance (my teacher picked me up every week). My fondest memories involve Mission Friends and Girls In Action. At least a full decade before I ever understood the gospel, I remember memorizing John 3:16. I distinctly recall praying for specific men and women on their birthdays, writing letters and drawing pictures to encourage missionaries to share a message I could not comprehend. I did not know Jesus, but these programs and activities birthed in me a life-long love and admiration for The Missionary, an extraordinary person who left the comforts of America to live in jungles and far-away places searching for men and women, boys and girls, who had never heard John 3:16.
After God opened my heart and mind to understand and believe the gospel, I wanted very much to share it with others. Throughout my college years I participated in various evangelism training seminars, served on week-long mission trips, and local camps. I day-dreamed of sharing the gospel with men and women from different nations. I wondered whether or not I, too, was called to be a missionary. With several years of foreign language study under my belt, I thought I was a perfect candidate. I prayed for an opportunity to go. But the door never opened. To be honest, I've wondered about that exciting time of my life. Did I miss something? After reading M. David Sills' book, The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God's Plan for the World, I understand so much better what God was doing in my heart all those years ago. I'll finish my story after I share a few details about this book.
The Missionary Call is comprised of three parts: 1. What is the missionary call? 2. Understanding your missionary call 3. Fulfilling the missionary call
In the first section, Sills explains six facets of the missionary call. It includes a burden for the need to share the gospel with those who've never heard, the motivation to obey Christ's commands to spread the gospel, a passionate desire leading to action and radical commitment, church support and blessing, the Holy Spirit's gifting, and an indescribable yearning. Even with all of those present, how can a person know it is God's will that he or she become a career missionary? In chapter two, Sills encourages Christians by explaining how we can know God's will. He cautions us to not fall prey to the "paralysis of analysis," saying, "The believer has total freedom in Christ and is not bound by anything except the Word of God." We can know God's will by growing as close to Jesus as we can "and staying there." Sills explains eight different avenues which converge to help us discern God's will. They are the knowledge of God, knowledge of God's word, prayer, counsel from godly mentors, life experiences, circumstances, timing, and the desires of your heart.
If the rule is God's word, then we must go to it for a definition or explanation of missions and the missionary call. In chapter three, Sills asks the question, "Is there a biblical basis for the missionary call?" This is a very important chapter. Sills goes into great detail regarding examples of God calling men out for service in both the Old and New Testaments. He differentiates between the call to salvation, the call to service, and the many ways God chooses to guide his people. Sills encourages Christians to not expect visions, voices, or dreams. Yes, many people speak of their callings in these very spiritual ways, but Sills does not want Christians who feel called to be discouraged because they did not have a mystical experience. Genuine evidence of a missionary call will have three components centered around The Great Commission (a passion for people groups, not geopolitical countries), The Great Commandments (a passion to see God glorified by the nations and a desire to meet the needs of your neighbors), and The Great Compassion (a heartbeat for people that reflects Jesus' heartbeat for people). Sills emphasizes that all Christians are called by God to international missions, however, God does not want all Christians to go. He wants some to stay and send.
An historical perspective of the missionary call is also important in attempting to define and understand it. In chapter four, Sills offers three historical understandings of the missionary call. The first view is that there is no call. The second is the view that says every Christian has already received the missionary call. The third view says that a Christian must have a personal missionary call. Sills then offers a summarized history of missions since the very first recorded call that occurred in the early church to present day, profiling nine different men who comprised the Protestant missionary movement, including John Calvin, David Brainerd, William Carey, and Cam Townsend. Sills also offers historical perspective by discussing movements, events, and specific people. Sills shows how each missions era emphasized a different aspect of missions, how the missionary call was defined during that time, and how the past continues to have positive and negative impacts on modern missions. Even with an understanding of what the Bible and history can teach us about the missionary call, "a definitive description that is universally applicable is elusive."
Because we lack a specific definition, Sills dedicates the last two sections (eight chapters) to a very practical discussion of understanding and fulfilling your missionary call. This section feels pastoral, as though Sills, being a missionary himself, comes alongside the reader to offer instruction, encouragement and words of caution. He offers guidance for answering many of the questions that missionaries have, like How specific does the call have to be? How do I discern God's leadership? Can the call change? What do I do while I'm waiting? What if my spouse does not feel called? I know I'm called, so what's my next step? Do I go with an agency? How do I know which one? The considerations are numerous. Sills also addresses seven types of hindrances to getting to the field, concluding, "Remember that a hindrance to service may be just that -- a hindrance; it is not necessarily an insurmountable barrier...The point is that a hindrance is not a "no." You can avoid many hindrances by making intentional lifestyle choices that will preclude them." Finally, missionaries face challenges once they are on the field, many for which a missionary can prepare in advance. Sills shares his wisdom for facing discouragement, doubts and working through culture shock. His words regarding culture shock were particularly eye-opening to me as I realized my assumptions about international missions were wrong.
The missionary call has been understood in many different ways by many different people throughout history. It is very helpful to see how God called his people to service through the years, but "you should not determine the legitimacy of your call by comparing it to someone else's experience...it is more important to embrace His call to you when it comes." Perhaps the best bit of advice is to "get as close to Jesus as you can and stay there."
The Missionary Call includes a glossary, notes, a bibliography for further reading and study, and a subject index.
This book corrected my false assumptions. My new understanding of what the missionary call entails, before and after arriving on the field, has enlarged my heart to support missionaries in any way that I can. I am confident that I am called to international missions, that God began planting seeds for missions in my heart when I was a little child. I am not, however, called to go. For now, I am still called to send, to support financially and to pray for my brothers and sisters who are called to go. Sills helped me see that, while I was praying many years ago for an open door to go, I lacked many key components of a genuine call to go and that there were specific hindrances in my life at the time that I did not know were hindrances. Yes, I am called to missions, but I'm a sender not a goer. Which one are you? If you can't answer that question, then you'll appreciate this book.
I highly recommend it for all believers, but especially those who are already missionaries and those who wonder if God may be calling them to go. This book would also be a great resource for your pastor and your church's library.