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July 1973 · Vol. 2 No. 3 · pp. 92–93 

Book Review

Church/Missions Tensions Today

ed. C. Peter Wagner. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1972. 238 pages.

Reviewed by Hans Kasdorf

Evangelical quarterlies and periodicals of the past year have frequently reflected on the Green Lake ’71 Conference (GL ’71) and what was said there on crucial issues emerging from and facing church/mission and mission/church relationships of our time. Vergil Gerber first harnessed some of the highlights of GL ’71 and the thinking of its nearly 400 selected delegates, representing 16,000 IFMA and EFMA North American missionaries who serve around the world, in his documentary report Missions in Creative Tension. The present volume incorporates the most pertinent material of the former and adds some dimensions not discussed at Green Lake.

The book echoes a recurring phrase in recent mission literature, namely, “crises in missions.” Some of the crises or tensions faced by IFMA and EFMA related mission agencies issue from problems rooted in theology, the concepts of mission and missions, organizations, relationships, forms of the mission agencies and mandates, structures, and spiritual vitality of churches and missions alike. These and other problems are dealt with from various perspectives in an attempt to find solutions and to stimulate further creative thinking.

This book provides significant material on the missionary enterprise and issues of our time. The first chapter by Jack Shepherd on the nature of the church is of great value, raising and answering questions seldom treated in a book on missions. Chapter 4 by Mellis and Lehnhart should be reprinted in pamphlet form and made compulsory reading for every church member. Missionaries and leaders of young churches will want to take Ralph Winter’s provocative chapter on “The Planting of YOUNGER Missions” seriously; it will help the two stimulate mission churches to organize mission agencies who in turn will carry out the mission mandate. Fenton’s chapter may serve as a model to mission leaders who desire to aid churches and mission organizations in the indigenization process.

The twelve chapters of the book deal with various topics, among them, Is the Church Really Necessary? The Foreign Missionary—A Vanishing Breed? Churches: Your Missions need you; The Planting of Younger Missions; Latinizing the Latin American Mission; Polarization and Harmony; The Emergence of a Missionary-Minded church in Nigeria; Mission and Church in Four World.

The scope of the book is of necessity broad. Space limitations made the treatment of certain topics inadequate. Additional shortcomings are: None of the contributors is from a non-Western church or mission. Would not the discussions be more pertinent if contributions by representatives from young churches had been included? Second, concepts and terminology are foggy. Should a book of this nature not make it clear what {93} evangelicals mean by mission and missions? What is the distinction? Third, the concept of mission (whatever its meaning) is too narrow when it is defined in terms of evangelism at the expense of the cultural mandate. Why not include a chapter that would lend expression to a broader meaning of the total missionary ministry of proclamation and social concern? These questions are raised not to detract from the value of this important book, but rather to call for more literature that will improve existing areas of weakness.

Hans Kasdorf
Pacific College, Fresno, California

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