A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Will You Join the Cause?

Review: David Alan Black, Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? (Gonzalez, FL: Energion Publications), 2012.
Anyone who knows Dave Black, is well aware of his passion for mission. So it is not a surprise that his booklet, Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? is a passionate presentation. This small (the booklet can be read in a half hour) but powerful tract is a clarion call for Christians to get serious about the missionary vocation Christ has called all believers to fulfill in their lives.

Dave makes four important points in this book:

First, missions is the calling of every follower of Jesus. Dave reminds us that historically Protestants have embraced the belief that "Christians are to be Christ's servants in all sectors of life" (p. 2). Dave cites the professionalization of the ministry as the factor that has undermined this Protestant ideal, and this professional ordained United Methodist pastor agrees.

Second, missions is on our doorstep. When Dave Black speaks of global missions, he means just that. There is mission half way around the world and there is mission in our own backyard. God does not call everyone to travel to far away lands to be missionaries, but God does call everyone to be missionaries wherever they are planted in this world. Evangelism is about words and also deeds; and such evangelism "must begin at our doorstep" (p. 7).

Third, missions is a global, cooperative movement. Churches around the world must partner and are partnering together is a cooperative effort. While much of this work in the modern context has been done by top heavy denominational agencies, local churches are finding great benefit in cooperating with other local churches apart from large bureaucracies.

Fourth, missions requires a counter-cultural lifestyle. As I read this section, I thought of John Wesley's words, "You have nothing to do but save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work." Dave writes, "The American Dream says, 'Earn and spend it on yourself.' Christ says, 'Live to give-- to others'" (p. 10). Dave is clear: God is looking for people who are willing to allow God to direct the use of their resources to the cause of global missions. Throughout the booklet, Dave continually speaks of the essential need for Christians to sacrifice because "the kingdom of God is not an easy road" (p. 10). Disciples of Jesus Christ must be an alternative to the world; for only in being an alternative can it be a witness and can it faithfully serve the cause of global missions.

Dave ends his book with a brief story about James, Dave's translator as a missionary in Ethiopia. James was martyred for his faith (I will forego the details and let you read it for yourselves). Dave writes of James, "If you were to judge James by normal "American" standards of success, you would have to conclude that he was crazy or at least an absolute idiot. But kingdom people think differently. In the kingdom 'normal' just doesn't cut it any longer" (p. 13).

After a brief conclusion, Dave ends with an invitation for all of us as disciples of Jesus Christ to join the cause of global missions. He refers to William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, who told of an atheist who said to Booth, "If I believed what you Christians believed, I would crawl across England on my hands and knees, if need be, to tell men about it" (p. 19).

If that atheist was right, and I believe he was, then Dave's call to us who claim to be disciples requires a response.

We will join the cause of global missions?

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