John Carter – May 12, 2015 – Book Review

The book When Missions Shapes the Mission was written by David Horner. Horner is a pastor in Raleigh NC with over thirty years of experience as a pastor. This paper is a short review of David Horner’s book.

“Through the pages of this book, I hope you will find your own commitment to missions challenged and examined.”[1] This is the point of Horner’s book. And I believe Horner achieves that end. Although written primarily from a Southern Baptist standpoint and primarily to a Southern Baptist audience, Horner’s work goes well beyond these denominational lines. Believers and church leader who questions the value of missionary work or who espouses a commitment to missions will benefit greatly from this clearly articulated book. Horner does well to break down the arguments of those resistant to missions and to break down the pride of those who pat themselves on their back for their current level of missionary engagement. Any Bible study or academic class on missions would be deficient without the concepts presented in this book.

There are four sections to this book. Each one of these sections is summarized below.

(1) In the first section Horner lays down the foundation of where the American Church is in regards to the best case scenario and missions. Horner clearly shows that that foundation is shaky at best. Although Horner provides enough statistical data to paint the dismal reality we live in, he does not leave the reader hopeless. In fact Horner’s attitude is one of concern and not of condemnation.

(2) In the following section Horner establishes some goals. Instead of relying too heavily on his own personal church experience Horner turns to Church history to help paint a picture of the possible future. Horner does well to show the theological grounds for goals that we should set.

(3) Section three is the most tactile section of the book. This section looks at realistic models for moving forward. Horner’s approach takes into account where the worst case scenario may be at. He also looks at the long term impact of the work that a church does.

(4) In the final section Horner brings the discussion home. Horner is most pastoral and direct in this section as he connects the theology of missions with the theology of obedience. Horner leaves no room for ambiguity in what he expects the reader to do with the information he or she just read.

I highly recommend this book for church leadership, for personal study, or even for those who wonder about the motives and agendas behind evangelical missionary work and Christian evangelism.

[1] David Horner, When Missions Shapes the Mission (Nashville: B&H, 2011), 7.