Item description for Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies by Gailyn Van Rheenen...
Overview This introduction to missions looks at the biblical and theological foundations for effective missions. Van Rheenen also outlines practical strategies that will help present and future missionaries involved in taking the gospel to the world.
Publishers Description How does the church communicate God's unchanging message in an ever-changing world? Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies gives answers by showing the methods and motives for successful missionary work. It lays sound theological and strategic foundations for the missionary of today and tomorrow. But Missions is far more than blackboard theory. Written by a long-time missionary, it carries the conviction and insights of one who has lived his subject. Gailyn Van Rheenen's true-life examples sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous-shed a fascinating, personal light on the missionary cycle, cross-cultural issues, church maturation, selecting mission fields, and other vital topics. This distinctive book both provides answers and provokes questions. Stimulating, comprehensive, and highly readable, it will engage readers on every level -- spiritual, intellectual, and personal.
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Gailyn Van Rheenen ( PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is director of the church planting ministry Mission Alive (www.missionalive.org), adjunct professor of missions at Abilene Christian University, and former missionary to East Africa. His website is www.missiology.org.
In reading Van Rheenen's textbook several things jumped out at me. First, a primary strength of the book is its thoughtful and critical approach to missiology. Van Rheenen applies his critical eye to encompass all areas ranging from the biblical and theological basis for mission, to the psychological and philosophical forces the missionary must consider, to practical areas for mission work and lessons learned from his previous experiences. Van Rheenen covers these areas and many more, and often leads the reader to critical conclusions through case studies that serve to elucidate major points while also giving the book a high user-friendly rating. Van Rheenen draws deeply on his own experiences in the mission field to fuel the subjects of his book, and the lessons that he has learned from his past are valuable to missionary and lay person alike. This book also speaks to both the missionary heading abroad, and the church home that is sending them there. Both persons should read this book together if they are to truly form a solid base for entering into God's work on the mission field. The book itself is divided into eleven chapters, beginning with biblical foundations and ending with strategies for church planting, nurturing, and maturation. The critical eye and the range of topics covered are certainly the primary strengths of the book, but it offers others as well. Most importantly, Van Rheenen gives simple praxis to the ideas and theories he bases his missiology upon. This extends the book beyond the classroom and makes it a valuable resource in the hands of teachers, students, missionaries, and churches. The practical strategies apply to questions of language learning to fundraising to church preparation to choosing a mission field. Van Rheenen also equips the reader with the working vocabulary of the missiologist, and this allows the an avid reader to pursue more in-depth or specialized books in the field. All in all, Van Rheenen offers a stunning introduction to missiology. In my opinion the book suffers only in smaller areas. Van Rheenen's experiences stem from his work among African tribal societies, and while these serve to elucidate several points, in an age that is focusing more and more on the Asian continent some experiences from these places may prove useful. This weakness also spreads into questions dealing with urban missions. Again, much of Van Rheenen's previous work was among rural African tribes. These weaknesses can be overcome through studious application of the material by the reader, but at times it is nice to see how past efforts succeeded or failed.
Honesty and Transparency in a Treatment on Missions. Dec 13, 2005
From the beginning of this book it is obvious that Van Rheenen's task is to align mission work with the writings of the gospels for the purpose of glorifying God. For this reason I find that few missiologists have the ability to write honestly about their missionary experiences in the way that Van Rheenen does. As you read through his countless stories of hope and hardship there is no doubt that this man gives all of his energy toward self-sacrifice for Christ's mission work. Through the stories and biblical principles presented in this book you will be encouraged about the state of current global mission work and strategies.
In Van Rheenen's words, reading a significant introductory missions text "should be the first task of the future missionary." For this reason his book spends significant time underlining theological foundations of missions that are prevalent throughout the Bible. As the reader contemplates Moses' role in God's missionary task the call to do this work becomes clearer. Not only is the call to serve the poor and destitute outlined in the Bible, but it is clear that God is the source of our mission to serve. He desires that through the work of the church missiologists can be led by the Holy Spirit to the target of His mission: the world.
More than likely, Van Rheenen writes his book with the undergraduate student in mind. For this reason, he points to the importance of possessing the correct motives for doing mission work. Yes, everyone should feel called to God's mission, but not everyone is equipped for the difficult task. There are many students who possess a desire to travel to a foreign land, but under the surface their motives are less than perfect. Van Rheenen states the need for the student to study and understand the task of the missionary's work. Impure motives will lead to a malignancy in the missionaries ministry and may even affect the indigenous people for many years. It is vital that the student of missiology completes thorough training and studying if they are to understand God's mission for their ministry. After Van Rheenen's chapters on foundational information on mission work he writes about the most important aspect of missiology. According to Van Rheenen, a philosophy of strategy must be derived for a successful ministry to sustain itself once the missionary has left. Not only does the missionary need to plant churches, but he/she must effectively train people and nurture them toward a sense of independence. In the long run, this strategy will produce reproductive churches that continue to grow without the aid of outside help.
While this book may be an introductory text for students interested in missions, Van Rheenen's ability to integrate primary biblical foundations with his personal experience provides a worthy text for anyone interested in successful overseas mission work. This is the type of book that should be given to anyone in your church that is interested in going overseas, but lacks the maturity needed to be successful. Through Van Rheenen's book the reader will gain a solid comprehension of the task of the missionary along with important case studies to examine and file away for future work.
Van Rheenen should be appreciated for the critical eye he brings to mission strategies that grows out of a theological foundatio Dec 13, 2005
This book should be required reading for anyone who SUPPORTS a missionary or plays even the smallest part in being involved with mission work. (Especially elders of sponsoring congregations) Van Rheenen is not only a missionary in action, but one who THINKS and critiques how to do mission.
Van Rheenen gives a solid theological foundation for mission that helps ground and guide all further discussion on "how to do missions." This is his most valuable contribution to the discussion of missions.
He says that God is the source of Mission. The message is that of the Kingdom of God and Christ as the embodiment of Mission. He points out that the Gospel without the foundation of the Kingdom does not make much sense. (Which is something that can be seen quite a bit these days.) I wish he had spent a bit more time on the two topics of the kingdom of God and the Gospel. Van Rheenen says the church is now to be the embodiment of Mission. "Few Christians are able to describe vividly in biblical terms what God desires the church to be. Without biblical undergirdings, the church is swept along by the ebb and flow of culture and in various forms degenerates into a social fraternity. When this happens, the church more nearly reflects the world than the nature of God and has little that is distinctive to offer the world." (28) He calls for the church to reinterpret her very nature. This is valuable for the current discussion going on in many congregations of "what does it mean for a church to be missional."
He roots the driving force of God's mission in compassion. (Motive) He exposes a number of secondary motives and defective motives for engaging in Mission. He calls for the primary motive to be Compassion.
Van Rheenen does a thorough job in discussing the difference between Identificationalism and Extractionism. Indentificationalism is a method of mission where a person immerses oneself in the new culture, learning the language and identifying with the nationals. Extractionism is a method of mission where a person establishes a compound or center that stands in contrast to the surrounding culture that forces nationals to learn to identify with that of the compound/center.
Van Rheenen says that people are "influenced and shaped by their culture both before and after they come into a relationship with God." (77) He spends time discussing "what is culture?" and what kinds of cross-cultural evangelism exist. (E1, E2, and E3) He discusses the stages a missionary goes through when adapting to a new culture (the glamour stage, rejection stage, and the identification stage.) Having worked with numerous new missionaries, his insights are grounded in reality.
A major strength of Van Rheenen's is his emphasis on strategy and planning. Of course the strategy always begins with the theological foundation. His chapter on Church Maturation takes a walk through a history of missions and looks at several ineffective strategies in the past that did not lead to mature churches. During this part he looks at both the positive and negative aspects of several possible strategies.
Good Intro Text To Missions Dec 20, 2004
This will provide an adequate base for further thought and search of the Scriptures on the topic of missions.
The author is experienced not only in teaching and writing about the topic, but was himself a missionary for fourteen years.
He covers the topic well, spicing the discussion with examples which will help the newcomer to the field relate much quicker with his points.
It suffers from a poor view of the means of grace, not clearly sensing and expressing that the Gospel purely preached and the Sacraments administered according to the Lord's mandate are the power of God to spread His kingdom. Thus, he at times relies more on communication models and cross-cultural contextualism than he should.
With making these necessary and vital theological corrections as one reads (i.e. reading with discernment) this text serves a valuable introductory aid.
A firm foundation on which to build Dec 22, 1999
Most students will admit that they often do not read an entire textbook. They will read some parts, skim others and even skip some entirely. This is natural. And it definitely applies to me. However, I read every word of Van Rheenen's "Missions." I was captivated from beginning to end with both the clear writing and the powerful stories. And all this from a text I was required to read!
"Missions" served as the main text for an introductory missions course I just completed. Just recently sensing that God was calling me to the mission field, I needed a comprehensive overview of this new terrain I was exploring. This book provided that and more. In 11 chapters, it addresses the mission of God, motives of missionaries, cross-cultural communication, the role of strategy, the church maturation process, site selection, and other important issues. Not only did reading this book stimulate my head, it also pulled at my heart. "Missions" taught me so much, yet also gave me a glimpse of how much more I still need to learn.