I would hope that most readers
of BookNotes have heard of Urbana, the spectacularly large student mission conference
put on by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship every three years. We have never been there — Jubilee in
Pittsburgh is the big student conference we help with each year — but there is little doubt
that there is no single event that has over time created so much good in the world. From inspiring students to go into missionary church planting or to
work in relief and development, from encouraging campus leaders and missionaries alike to grapple with big questions around racism, sexism and nationalism to encouraging students to think about their chosen careers as
potent for global mission, much good work as come from this big event. It started in 1946 and since then hundreds of thousands of young adults have
made new or re-commitments to Christian faith, to radical discipleship and to global
concern. Such generative impact, as far as I know, is simply unparalleled.
It seems to me that Urbana
represents much of what is best about the evangelical tradition. I
am sure they don’t get everything right and
I’m sure there are speakers (there are hundreds of workshops!) with whom I
might disagree (and with whom you would disagree.) But from their remarkable
prayer meetings, their multi-ethnic sensitivities in worship and programming,
and their energetic and wholistic vision of Christ’s work in the world, we can
all be glad that besides actually catapulting many into global service, the event’s ethos and literally world-class speakers have generated very good discussions that reverberate back at
IV chapters on campuses and mission agencies all over the world.
Following the important missiological principles of the Lausanne Movement and consultations, the gospel vision of Urbana is wholistic and multi-faceted. (See the important and wonderful collection of papers and sermons from the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, happily published by IVP earlier this year. It is called Christ Our Reconciler: Gospel, Church, World edited by Julia E. M. Cameron; $18.00.)
Urbana has inspired stunning
amounts of humanitarian work in the developing world and all sorts of justice advocacy and creation care initiatives in the name of Jesus. Mainline churches who emphasize social action leading to economic transformation and conservative churches who emphasize evangelism
and church planting leading to spiritual growth both can take notice how Urbana brings together word and
deed, witness and work, prayer and public justice. It is a world missions conference but they
have this missional vision of the reign of God that allows them to see the significance
of thinking wisely about culture, nurturing the Christian mind, discussing questions of vocation and calling in the marketplace, and affirming
all manner of creative, indigenous efforts for global mission.
One of the best publishers, we
often say, is InterVarsity Press and astute readers will know when an Urbana
conference is coming up — in those years, IVP releases several good books in the late fall about global concern,
world mission, and resources they will feature at the big conference. Beth and I spend a lot of our time setting up
(and tearing down) book displays at gatherings and conferences but we cannot
imagine the work going into the big Urbana book display. (It isn’t as, ahem, diverse as a Hearts &
Minds display might be — they are a singular publisher, after all, not a shop
that stocks hundreds of different publishers.)
But we’ve heard about their work, admire their on-site bookstore and the guy who stands up and does exciting
book plugs, Greg Jao, is legendary. I sometimes joke that I want to be like him
someday. Maybe Greg and I should have a “book
announcement” showdown. Ha. (More on Greg and his new book, below!)
Anyway, you should rejoice with
us — and ponder, if you are in Christian leadership — that IVCF and IVP so believe
in reading, encourage the practice and discipline of book buying as part of
discipleship, and help the Christian community have access to such an array of
thoughtful, well-written, and culturally-relevant books rooted in historic
orthodox faith. Some conservatives have criticized them for occasionally pushing envelopes in how to faithfully live out the
implications of the gospel in our globalized world, but is to their credit. No publisher balanced evangelical clarity and edgy contemporary application as well as and as
consistently as IVP and we are glad for their good work that culminates in the big
bookselling push at their Urbana conference.
NEW IVP MISSION-RELATED BOOKS – 20% OFF
Here are a few of the recent IVP
books that came out over the last months, a tell-tale sign that it was nearly
Urbana missions conference time. Since
you most likely did not attend this massive event, why not pick up a couple of
books, maybe donate them to your church library, and recommit yourself in the
upcoming months to recall the Great Commission and the excitement of faith
nurturing with not just a Christian worldview, but a Christian view of the
whole wide world. Reading about world
missions, I am sure, can only help deepen our discipleship and make us more
effective as God’s servants wherever we find ourselves.
(Our next BookNotes blog post in a day or so will describe some other mission-related books from other publishers, who have also offered some fantastic, important resources. )
We are happy to stock these books and offer
them to you now at a 20% discount.
Jesus Started: Joining the Movement Changing the World Steve Addison (IVP) $15.00 I don’t think I can recommend a better book –
good for beginners or those more advanced – that documents, explores, teases
out and calls us to enact the New Testament basis for mission. It looks specifically (and with exciting insight) at Jesus’ own methodology. Many authors have surveyed the sending of the 12, the Great Commission strategy and such, but this brings vibrant insights, coupled with great stories. Endorsements on the back include good ones by Alan Hirsch (Addision is from Australia), Neil Cole, J.R. Woodward. Addison and his wife lead MOVE, a mission agency devoted to training and deploying workers who become the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities. He wrote the previous, and also recommended, Movements That Changed the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel (IVP.)
Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church? Paul Borthwick (IVP) $15.00 We live in a religiously different world than even a few decades ago — we know this. Many of us have read Philip Jenkins, for instance, or Soong-Chan Rah. As it says on the back cover of this interesting new work, “There are now more Christians in China than in all of Europe, more Pentecostals in Brazil than in the US, and more Anglicans in Kenya than in the UK, Canada and the US combined. Countries that were once destinations for Western missionaries are now sending their own missionaries to North America.” Wow, this is fascinating stuff.
Paul Borthwick is one of the best mission educators of which we know. He knows what he’s talking about, and has been tireless in traveling and interpreting all sorts of missionary endeavors, all over the planet. Whenever asked for a good, intro mission book, we start with his small How to Be a World-Class Christian (IVP.) And everybody should read his Six Dangerous Questions to Transform Your View of the World (IVP.) Borthwick’s vast experience all over the globe has placed him in a good position to think through this question. Most of us, and certainly most serious mission groups, know enough to be against paternalism or building unhealthy dependency; most everybody resists neo-colonialism as best they can. For the most part, long gone are the days caricatured in books like The Poisonwood Bible. But what is the best role of North American missionaries, and how might sending churches be more involved in building collaboration and reciprocity in the global support? There has been much written about this (for decades, actually, starting with important work by the World Council of Churches a half a century ago, for instance, and, in the evangelical world, in the pioneering work of the Lausanne documents.) This new book, though, is up to date and exceptionally insightful, making it a must read for serious thinkers in missions. As one Kenyan pastor writes, “It is encouraging to see a number of Western mission agencies building multicultural teams that are a reflection of the face of what God is doing in the Christian scene today. This book turns our gaze to this direction and I heartily recommend it.” Or, as the International Director of the respected Langham Partnership, Chris J.H. Wright puts it, “One of the best and most helpful books on the global realities of world missions…”
Making All Things New: God’s Dream for Global Justice R. York Moore (IVP) $15.00 I so respect this author and enjoy his passionate preaching, storytelling, and writing. I like him for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because he relentlessly brings together the verbal proclamation of the gospel — he has the gift of evangelism alongside his gift of gab — with serious, systemic and engaged awareness of the need to fight social injustices. There are very moving stories here, amazing stuff
about his advocacy resisting slavery and sexual trafficking issues, for instance. As I explained in a longer review I did when the book first came out (over at Comment magazine) this is, actually, a study of the book of Revelation. Yes, York reminds us that knowing how the story ends — being clear about God’s dream of restoring the world he so loves — helps us remain focused and hopeful. This is a very moving book by a tireless
activist and evangelist. Very, very highly
York was one of the keynote, plenary speakers at Urbana three years ago, which indicates the caliber of communicator he is, and the integrity of his work. You can watch a portion a talk he gave, here, hearing how he came to faith, and came to learn that justice is an integral part of the gospel. Watch more of an evangelistic sermon, including a very clear, if creative, altar call, here. Notice how he starts talking about a book he read as a kid and his passion to help people come to Christ in that huge auditorium!)
Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience Brian M.
Howell (IVP Academic) $20.00 Howell is a
professor of anthropology at Wheaton
College and here has done something that has been just crying out to be done –
a serious, but wonderfully written, exciting and illuminating account of what
happens when people go on short term mission trips. The opening pages hooked me with a notable
story, highlighting the numbers of (and impact upon) churched kids who have
traveled and served all over the world (in contrast to their secular counterparts
who are often insular and unaware of global geography.) Going on a short trip
can be “religious tourism” and can be counter-productive for the host countries
and for those going. Howell does not
avoid these very important questions, and his balanced critique is
important. But the e heart of this book
is the emphasis on the narratives, and how, therefore, to prepare well and
unpack these life-changing experiences.
Team leader? Missions
coordinator? Supporter of those
going? Regular short-termer? You need to read this. As Jenell Williams
Paris (an anthropologist who teaches at Messiah College) says, “Short-Term
Mission is an essential resource…Howell is an expert guide, offering the wisdom
of a devout Christian, the education of an anthropologist, and the experience
of a short term missionary.” This is
research-based, but, like most ethnography writers, includes fabulous stories
and great advice for applying his findings.
Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down without Settling Christine Jeske & Adam Jeske (IVP)
$15.00 I raved about this when it
arrived early this fall, and it was maybe the first IVP book that reminded me
that this was an upcoming Urbana year.
What does a young person do when she wants to make a difference in the
world? What does a young couple do when
they feel called to world missions? And,
how do they do that globe-trotting activist stuff when they also want to settle
down, maybe have kids, get a degree, care about their own local place? Can one “think globally and act locally” but
also (this is my dumb interpretation of their fascinating and upbeat book) do
the opposite, as well – that is, can one act globally but think locally? Can we settle down without losing our passion
for justice? How can we make a home and
still be willing to go and do whatever God inspires us to do? I bet you know people of any age who struggle
with this, and I bet you know missionaries, or missionary wanna-bees, who would
so love reading these touching stories of global action, world concern, and –
amidst doing community development in Latin America, China, and Africa –
finding a home “in the land of malls and manicured lawns.” Can God show up in the “ruts and routines” of
dicing celery at home, just as God was so powerful present as they worked in micro-financing,
or rode motorcycles across Africa? Is
there something adventuresome in the ordinary?
Can we settle down, but not settle?
Buy a few of these and share them widely. Somebody you know needs to be reminded of
this, finding peace with staying home. And somebody you know needs permission
to take off.
Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission J.D. Payne (IVP) $15.00 There are other good books that study immigration and the needed policy discussions for those interested in public justice. IVP did our favorite, in fact (Welcoming the Stranger.) This, though, is a bit different, studying the whole phenomenon of migration, God seeming to orchestrate new opportunities, Kingdom expansion, new people groupings and ways to reach new unreached subculture. This looks at students on the move, refugees on the move and a bit of history of all that. Yes, it offers guidelines for reaching “strangers next door” and it offers up-to-the-minute updates on unreached people groups in North America (and other parts of the West.) Payne calls for a “diaspora missiology” making this a new angle on outreach and missionary thinking.
Go and Do: Becoming a Missional Christian Don Everts (IVP) $15.00 I have shown this to many groups I’ve talked with this fall and reviewed it previously and I remain enthusiastic. It illustrates a great insight — we must combine who we are and what we do, character and obedience, so to speak. The first four chapters are beautifully written and I thought very, very compelling, as Everts explains (with tender stories of his own funky life) who we are called to be. How do we see, feel, think? Do we share God’s own view of the world? How can we be spiritually formed in ways that shape us to be those kind of people? And, then, the second half, explores in very inspiring prose, just where we are to share God’s love (in word and deed.) He works with concentric circles, noting that we must remind ourselves and our families of the gospel, and then move out into our most obvious relations, our church, our neighborhood, and, yes, the larger world of global realities. There is a very moving chapter about urban ministry (although for those of us who don’t live in big cities, he is clear that we apply our outreach to the hurting and needy wherever they are found; surely rural and small town America has great poverty and there are, as we know, very tough stuff even in the most affluent of suburbs.) Anyway, this is a great book, outlining who we are as people who announce good news and where we do this work, in various spheres and locales. Very nicely arranged and very, very moving. Again, I like that it includes world misisons, but it frames that by the preceding call to daily discipleship, ordinary outreach and service in ordinary ways and places. Right on.
Discovering the Mission of God: Best Missional Practices for the 21st Century edited by Mike Barnett & Robin Martin (IVP) $35.00 Oh yeah, this is a hefty one, and worth every penny if you want to be informed about the very latest ideas in effective missionary work. There are scholars and practitioners here, following the mission of God from the Bible and church history, and then the cutting edge best practices of our new era. This includes rare contributions from John Piper, Chris Wright, Ed Stetzer, Scott Moreau, Jerry Rankin, and many, many others. 640 pages. Editor Barneett is the dean of the College of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University, an excellent place from which he is able to gather the best stories of the best thinkers of our time.
Missional God, Missional Church: Hope for Re-evangelizing the West Ross Hasting (IVP Academic) $20.00 Oh my, this is a masterpiece of scholarly, Biblical study to resource the missional vision. J.I. Packer calls it a “tour de force.” This follows well in the legacy of Leslie Newbigin’s Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Eerdmans), fits well with a personal favorite by Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew, A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story (Baker) and on the heels of the spectacular Biblical overview, Mission of God by Chris Wright (IVP.) Still, some are saying that there is nothing quite like it, changing the conversation, advancing our understanding, and deepening our insight and hope. Important for anyone who cares about the health and fidelity of our local congregations. Wow.
been wanting for weeks to tell you about these six booklets – especially a few of
them, and really, really especially one of them. I’ll come clean and admit it: I not only have
an endorsement on one of them, but our bookstore is even described and
commended in it. I’m in a book! We’re in a footnote, too! Oh, man, this is soooooo cooooool. Okay.
Settle down. Let me explain.
created these six small books – staple bound booklets, not unlike their famous
LifeGuide Bible studies in shape and size – to sell inexpensively at Urbana, with the hopes that they will help students take the
message home, so to speak, take next steps, practically learn about and live
into the vision of Urbana. A few of
these are quite specific to moving towards world missions and would be
excellent for any church library or para-church group that encourages global
awareness and endeavors to equip folks to enter calling of world missions. Several – as we will see —are not
specifically about missions and would be useful for nearly anyone. We’ll describe the mission-themed ones first
(and really, really recommend them) and then will pull out the stops and rave
about the few that are more general and should have wide appeal. Can you guess in which Hearts & Minds
makes its cameo appearance? Come on people, this is exciting!
these booklets includes questions for personal reflection or, better, for group
with the Global Church Nikki
Toyhama-Szeto & Femi Adeleye (IVP) $4.00 Ms. Toyama-Szato is program
director for the Urbana Conference and helped develop programs for Cape Town
2010 Lausanne Congress — so she knows this stuff well. You may know her
as a contributor to a book about Asian American women of faith, More Than Serving Tea.
Mr. Adeley is an African, the associate general secretary for partnership and
collaboration for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES.) He has seen this sort of concern from the perspective of the global church. This powerful study reminds us that you can’t (and shouldn’t try to) go it
alone. It is a wonderful message for
all of us. If you know anybody on a mission committee or who helps make decisions about how mission activity is done, this is a great little reminder of very, very important ideals.
Warfare in Mission Mary Anne & Jack
Voelkel (IVP) $4.00 The Voelkel’s have
worked in Latin America for years, and have done campus ministry (in Medellin,
Columbia) which is to say they are smart and experienced. They have been “missionaries-in-residence” at Urbana for years — hosting “ask the missionary” discussion sessions — and are very well-respected; if anybody can
tackle this vexing matter, in brevity and balance, it is them. Again, this is oriented towards those in global
missions, but it might be good for any of us, eh? You know that famous Luther line that the devil is glad if we think about him too much and if we don’t think about him at all.
God’s Call Tom Lin (IVP) $4.00 You know
how much we appreciate resources that hold up the vision of vocation, that help
folks discern their calling in life, and helps readers to frame their passions and occupations
in terms of the theology of call. This
does that, but, mostly, it is a tool to help those perhaps inspired to go
into the mission field to discern that calling. As Lin said in his opening address at Urbana (ahh, the wonders of technology, that we can know this already), “Surrender your plans and let God surprise you. God’s invitation extends further than we can every imagine. Don’t limit God.” His evaluation of how this all works, his contrasting hearing God’s
call with the other calls coming from our culture, is profound. He is honest and realistic, but holds out the big
vision. He quotes the famous missionary
C.T. Studd, who wrote, “I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at
things that don’t matter.” Add this to other books on vocation, calling, and discerning God’s will.
Mission of Worship Sandra Van
Opstal (IVP) $4.00 Okay, this is interesting: what Christian person doesn’t want worship to
be more faithful and meaningful? What
church leader doesn’t want an inexpensive and brief resource to kindle passion
and warmth for the work of worship? Yes,
we were made for more, and communal worship services allow us to have a special
glimpse of the majesty and grandeur of God.
But it also paints a picture of God’s purposes for the world, so this
book is, in fact, an essay on and invitation to missional worship. Sandra leads the Urbana worship team (and
serves on the national leadership team for InterVarsity’s Latino ministry,
LaFe.) We know God’s heart breaks in a world of
injustice and we know that proper worship of the Triune God can have transforming
impact, motivating us to care and act. This booklet explains the
relationship between worship and mission and is very useful.
the Soul for Justice Bethany H. Hoang
(IVP) $4.00 Oh my, how I wish there was
a small study like this when I was younger.
There are several small group Bible study guides on social justice, now,
but this one is very, very special. For
starters, Bethany is a hero to many of us, a young woman who has taken up work
with the International Justice Mission, the pioneering and premier organization
doing legal reform and dramatic activism against sexual trafficking. She has done extraordinary, tireless work
promoting IJM’s work on campuses and in churches all over the country, and now directs
the IJM Institute for Biblical Justice.
Here, she powerfully, if briefly, tells of their daily fight against
injustice, highlighting especially how prayer is central to their important campaigns, and how we
can all be more deeply involved as good citizens, in justice ministries, with a
wholistic view of neighborly service in God’s hurting world — all rooted in the spiritual disciplines to undergird such activism. I love this little
book, so appreciate its tone and wisdom, and commend it to you with enthusiasm. The questions are interesting and upbeat, too; the
Biblical study solid, and the invitation to involvement gracious and good. Three big cheers for this great resource that
should be widely used. Kudos to IVP and “Urbana
Onward” for adding this to their series.
Mind’s Mission Greg Jao (IVP) $4.00 Did I tell you how much I admire and
appreciate Greg Jao? He’s the book guy
at Urbana, and I am his lesser counterpart in many gigs we do – standing up in
front of crowds doing infomercials for books.
Greg would surely say that this is not as easy as it looks, and we both
take this very seriously. Why? Because, as former Urbana hero, the late,
great John Stott put it in a mid-70s book Your Mind Matters (IVP.) Greg believes that for all of us,
missionaries or not, students or not, reading is important because developing
the “Christian mind” is important. I don’t
have to explain it all to Hearts & Minds friends, but this spells out the
transforming vision of a uniquely Christian worldview, the radical and even
subversive implications of distinctively Biblically-informed thinking, as well
as any small book we know. Offering this
post-Urbana book is a stroke of genius for several reasons, one of which is
that, inspiring as the conference may be, most participants simply will not
take up vocations as missionaries. Most will go back to daily tasks, ordinary
jobs, and will have to navigate fidelity within the often hostile secular
classroom or workplace. It is our “mind’s
mission” to think well, to think faithfully, so we might “see” and live into
our complicated lives as Kingdom people, where-ever we are, in whatever career.
As one bookseller
(okay, that would be me) says on the back,
Jao is legendary as a lover of students and a lover of books. For Christ’s glory, he has long encouraged
students to read widely, to think deeply, to hone their minds so that they might
understand God’s Word and world and serve well.
He’s also a wonderful writer, and now, in this great little book, he has
given us exactly what every student needs: a quick and easy-to-read guide that
makes the case for a missional mind, ‘thinking Christianly’ and honoring Christ
as King in every career and calling, across every zone of life.
be glad that Greg isn’t quite as breathy or wordy as I am, but that back-cover
endorsement is more than sincere. I
think I’m right about it, too — every student needs a small book like this. Call it a prequel to the still useful Your
Mind Matters (IVP), a feisty companion to the short booklet What is the Christian
Worldview? by Philip Ryken (P&R) and an excellent warm-up for the vital Outrageous Idea of
Academic Faithfulness by Don Opitz and Derek Melleby (Baker.) If you
know any college students (or bright high school students wanting to relate
faith and learning) send ’em one of these.
In fact, send them two, and tell them to share one with a Christian pal
or Godly prof. Our intellectual
engagement matters to God and it matters to our personal growth and it matters
to our neighbors, who need, now more than ever, thoughtful, insightful, solid
insight about the world. This little
book really does the job well, and we cannot think of a better introduction to
the topic. (Greg brings Urbana-esque
concerns to the topic, too, asking about creational structures, ethnicity and
justice and all sorts of interesting implications of an authentically Biblical
worldview and the renewed mind commended in Romans 12:1-2, for instance. I am so glad for this! You really should read it.)
to IVP for releasing these great little books, for their wisdom in knowing that
people need to process information in this manner, that we need handles to take
next steps and think through the implications of missional living for all of
life. From multi-ethnic friendship to missional
worship, from social justice to using our minds well, these themes illustrate
the vibrant and healthy views promoted at Urbana, and are examples of what God
is saying to the people of God. Buy these little books and share them. Spread the news, spread the
Thanks for helping us
promote these sorts of great tools for advancing the healing of the world to
the glory of Christ, the incarnate King.
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