Similar to Winter and Hawthorne (the Perspective book), Michael Pocock, Gailyn Van Rheenen, and Douglas McConnell combined the works of various authors into one missiologoy book. The main difference being that each chapter of The Changing Face of World Missions was written expressly for the book instead of being chosen from previously published works and compiled, like the Perspectives book.
In the introduction, Pocock, van Rheenen and McConnell lay out the missions theology they used to create their book.
“We hope this book will positively affect the progress of the missionary task, not simply in numerical expansion but also in qualitative depth . . . Such engagement involves a renewed focus on God's glory and a renewed love for one another.”
This focus on the glory of God is very similar to the theology of missions promoted by John Piper in his book Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions. [@more@]
With a name like The Changing Face of World Missions: Engaging Contemporary Issues and Trends, you would expect to find a plethora of trends and issues facing world missions. Pocock, van Rheenen and McConnell follow through on their book title and provide twelve trends and issues within three contexts:
- the global context
- the missional context
- the strategic context
They also make a point to differentiate between a trend and an issue. To them, trends are “what is characteristically happening and they intensify over a period of time.” Issues, on the other hand, are “points often raised by those trends that become the focus of debate.”
Within these twelve trends and issues, there are three main themes that run throughout the book:
- disillusionment with modernity
- use of modern technology
- the shift of Christianity from the West to majority world cultures.
The first theme, disillusionment with modernity, refers to the syncretism of Western Christianity with Western Enlightenment principles that left modern missionaries ignorant of “key elements of the supernatural.”
The second main theme of the book is the increased use of modern technology. While generally a good thing, in several cases the reliance on modern technology has created “tension between those who have access to certain capabilities and those who do not . . .”
Pocock, van Rheenen and McConnell define the term “majority world” as that “part of the world's population living outside Europe and North America.” The shift of Christianity from the West to majority world cultures is a major theme throughout the book as this shift affects all areas of world missions. The authors even go as far as to state that:
“North American evangelical schools and their graduates can remain relevant only to the extent that they read, listen, and interact with believers from around the world about the conduct of the missionary enterprise.”
In summary, the authors of The Changing Face of World Missions promote a theology of missions based upon God's glory and the love for one another. Surrounding this missions theology are the main themes of disillusionment of modernity, technology, and the shift of Christianity from the West to majority world cultures.
These three themes weave their ways through all twelve trends and issues discussed in the book. In an ironic way, the three themes of the book are also the three main challenges that face the Global Church in world missions today.