Book Review – What is the mission of the Church?

Title: What is the mission of the Church?
Subtitle: Making sense of social justice, shalom, and the great commission
Kevin DeYoung (Senior Pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, former pastor of University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan, an author of several books, “Hole in our Holiness”, “Taking God at his word”).

Greg Gilbert (a senior pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, he also wrote a book under 9 Marks “What is the gospel”, “Who is Jesus”).

Year: 2011

The idea of the book grew out of a discussion between Kevin, Greg and Justin Taylor as they were considering these issues and it was indeed a great idea which was born than. The book seeks to clearly define what the mission of the church is and it does just that. It has three sections, the first is wrestling with misconceptions and clearly defining what the mission of the church is, the second is deals with some of the concepts surrounding this Topic and the third is to clearly concluded on what the church mission is.

This is how they Summarize the mission of the Church “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 these disciples into church, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the father” (p62).

This involves three stages:
(1) initial evangelism (2) the nurture of existing churches by guarding them against error and grounding them in the faith and (3) their firm establishment as healthy congregation through the full exposition of the gospel and the appointment of Local leadership (p62).

This is a timely book, especially with the developments that have been taking place in the discussions on the theology of missions and actually some conservertive evangelicals pushing the agenda of social justice being part of what the church should be doing and claiming God’s mission in the world should be our mission. The mission of the church is very clear and Greg and Kevin do a good job to define it for us.

It is a radical book, in the sense that it fearlessly deals wrong connotations head on, I would say they are really confrontational. They take quite a balanced position on issues. They are very helpful in clearifying some misunderstandings that can come out of their argument. This book is positive initiative that is going to be very helpful in the next generation of churches and am glad that I read it, this will heavily influence decisions I’ll be making in ministry.

However, the only negative I have is that the book is written only for a western context, and some us in Africa will have to think on how to implament these principles in our own context. Although I think the principles are quite clear.

Some practical points for the african context

  1. We live in a poverty stricken society, and we can easily turn our attention to social transformation and charity as a primary focus. This book brings us back to focus on what should be primary, which is the great commission as defined earlier.
  2. The health, wealth and prosperity gospel takes the focus away from the great commission as well. It does not focus on gospel preaching and discipleship, but paints a different picture of Christ and attract people to Christ for the wrong reasons. If someone has health, wealth and prosperity they don’t need Christ anymore. It is a scary though, The great commission is there to root people in Christ, not just to offer them the benefits of Christ and miss out on Christ himself.

I recommend this book to every pastor, elder and church members, get it and read it. This book puts the discussion of missions and what the church should be doing into perspective.

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