Bruce Ashford’s book is not a one-author book. It is actually a collection of essays. However, the authors of the essays were aware of how their work would be used and that their essays would constitute chapters in a larger work. Ashford claims that the various authors were carefully chosen based on their abilities and qualifying experiences from all over the world. “Several of the contributors are professors, several of them are pastors in the United States, but the majority of the chapters are written by international church planters.” (Kindle Locations 175-176) I found the mix of authors to be a good one. There was some diversity of opinion but they stayed relatively close to a common theme which was to encourage Christians to be involved in God’s plan to reveal himself to the entire world.
I found the Introduction and book divisions to be quite helpful in letting me know what to expect from this collection of essays. The very first sentence of the Introduction identifies the book’s purpose: “to provide a biblical-theological framework for understanding the church’s mission to the nations.”(Kindle Locations 103-104) The book is divided into four major sections: “God’s Mission, the Church’s Mission, the Church’s Mission to the Nations, and Concluding Challenges.” (Kindle Location 105) The two sections related to the mission of the church make up the bulk of the book. My review of the book will utilize the book’s own major divisions. My review has only one additional division. I put a greater focus on chapter five than on the rest of the chapters.
The first section of the book, “God’s Mission” attempts to present the character and nature of God as a foundation for our mission. Bruce Ashford, the book’s editor, also wrote the first chapter. In it he gave an overview of what he calls “the unified biblical narrative, including its four major plot movements- creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.” (Kindle Location 201) Ashford contends that these plot movements provide the framework for God’s work in and for the world. Many of the essays referenced these same four plot movements. God created the world and it was good. Man ruined God’s good creation. God is moving to redeem the elect who choose him and his redemption. God will one day restore everything to, at the very least, its original goodness.
Chapter two, which along with chapter one comprises the first major section, claims that because God is a triune being, this sets the pattern of mankind’s mission. While I appreciated the emphasis on defining man’s mission in terms of how it relates to God’s mission, I did not find the argument regarding the Trinity setting the pattern for man’s mission to be compelling. The facts presented about the Triune God were certainly correct but I did not follow the supposed connection between this aspect of God and man’s mission. I did find places of agreement with this essay. “Missions is from our point of view the privileged participation in God’s mission to make himself known.” (Kindle Locations 578-579) God loves lost man more than any man does. God’s actions which have been revealed to us show a God who has a missionary heart. I agree with and appreciate the emphasis this essay placed on Christ. “God’s plan is Christocentric in two significant ways. Jesus Christ is the means to accomplishing God’s plan and the aim of God’s plan.” (Kindle Locations 826-827)
The Church’s Mission
The second section of the book, “The Church’s Mission” describes the mission of the Church as framed and delimited by God’s mission. (Kindle Location 116) While the Table of Contents does not subdivide this larger section, the Introduction does: “Chapters 3-5 give treatments of the Christian doctrines of humanity, redemption, and church.” (Kindle Locations 124-125) “Chapters 6-9 deal with four of the issues that continually arise in relation to Christian mission: evangelism, social responsibility, culture, and lifestyle.” (Kindle Locations 131-132)
The highlight of chapter three for me was the quotation of John Piper which concluded the chapter:
Perhaps no one has described the connection between love for God and love for the nations better than John Piper: “God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of his name among the nations. Therefore let us bring our affections into line with his, and, for the sake of his name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts, and join his global purpose. If we do this, God’s omnipotent commitment to his name will be over us like a banner, and we will not lose, in spite of many tribulations (Acts 9: 16; Rom. 8: 35-39).” (Kindle Locations 1195-1200)
I found this to be right on target and personally uplifting. I love the use of omnipotent to describe God’s passion and commitment to mission. The description of God’s enthusiasm for his name among the nations as inexhaustible is brilliant.
I came across a difficulty in chapter four. The text stated, “Indeed, Christ is called the second Adam……” (Kindle Location 1467) The proper designation for Christ is not the “second Adam” but rather the “last Adam”. First Corinthians 15:45 makes that plain. First Corinthians 15:47 is simply referring to the second of the two already mentioned in the passage.
Chapter Five ~ The Community of Mission
Chapter five by Jedidiah Coppenger, lead pastor at Redemption City Church in Franklin, Tennessee, really resonated with me. I found his essay to be inspiring and helpful. However, I am not sure I am in full agreement with the following which is found in the very first paragraph. “Of course, the difference between missions and mission is significant. The former is an activity of the church, and the latter is the reason we have a church.” (Kindle Locations 1552-1553) Mission is one reason why we have a church but not the only one.
I really appreciated the way Coppenger used the theme of the kingdom of God as the springboard for discussing the church’s part in mission. I think he is right on target where he wrote, “This chapter contends that God’s kingdom mission is the storyline of Scripture, and it is rooted in his nature. His kingdom is inaugurated in Christ’s first coming, although it awaits consummation in the new creation.” (Kindle Locations 1560-1561) I loved Coppenger’s identification of local churches as “kingdom outposts”. (Kindle Location 1562) The King is in the process of reclaiming his kingdom. As he redeems and reclaims his rebellious, runaway children, he places them in the army of his kingdom. Coppenger pointed out a marvelous truth when he quoted Lesslie Newbigin, “Mission is an acted out doxology.” (Kindle Location 1589) What a marvelous way to express the truth that the glory of God is the focus and goal of mission!
While Coppenger does not find the term “kingdom of God” in the Old Testament, he does find the idea. He traces it from creation to the fall and on to redemption and restoration. God’s kingdom was originally one person (plus other created heavenly beings, which I am curious that Coppenger did not address), but soon God would pronounce that man should not be alone. Then God’s kingdom people acted in perfect unity, but sadly perfect rebellion. The kingdom would be marred, not forever but for a very long time.
Following the corrupting of his kingdom, God immediately promised redemption. The bulk of the Old Testament is an emotional roller coaster as God’s kingdom of people proved to be unfaithful even as their faithful God worked to provide a community within his kingdom that would be his channel of grace delivering redemption to his creation. The situation got worse, very much so and very quickly. It got so bad that God destroyed all members of his kingdom with the exception of one family. Soon this family grew under the blessing of God until the descendants began to publicly worship and serve self. God dispersed them around the world (or at least the part known to them) so that they would form separate nations. Soon God chose a man to father a special nation, one set apart for His purpose. This special nation was tasked with delivering the Redeemer to the world. Coppenger was right on the mark when he wrote, “The story of redemption must be understood as the recovery of God’s kingdom.” (Kindle Locations 1626-1627) Coppenger rightly points out that Christ succeeded where Adam and Israel had failed. Christ was obedient and fulfilled all points of the Law, thus the kingdom of God was inaugurated by the Incarnation. “The kingdom of God, then, is established in the person of Christ. He is the obedient people of God and he is the place where God’s rule is present.” (Kindle Locations 1634-1635, emphasis mine) “The kingdom of God, his kingly rule, now has a human face and a human name- the name and the face of Jesus from Nazareth. God’s kingdom redemption is brought about through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.” (Kindle Locations 1638-1640) Even though the kingdom was ushered in by the Incarnation, the kingdom will not be fully realized until the victorious return of the King during the end times.
The kingdom of God and the Church are not one and the same thing. The world-wide Church is made up of local churches which are outposts of the kingdom. The church proclaims the kingdom in the world. Coppenger stated it well, “As communities of the kingdom, local churches consist of those who have responded in faith to the gospel of the king and have passed through the baptismal waters to join an accountable community that worships the king in regular assembly and in faithful cultural engagement for the glory of God.” (Kindle Locations 1668-1670)
Coppenger described the functions of the local church in terms of its being an outpost of the King; the local church acts as the King’s representative in lands being reclaimed. “Therefore, we should start local churches where believers assemble regularly to hear God’s Word, baptize, enjoy the Lord’s Supper, and hold one another accountable.” (Kindle Locations 1681-1682) Coppenger named the local church, “the King’s Assembly”. He referred to the good news offering redemption as “the King’s gospel”. He said entrance into the kingdom was through “the King’s baptism”. He referred to the Lord’s Supper as “the King’s feast”. He called the individual members of the local church “the King’s subjects.” Coppenger termed local church leaders as “the King’s leaders”. While I see nothing wrong with that terminology, I would have used a military term such as “the King’s platoon leaders” or “the King’s captains” or “the King’s sergeants” or “the King’s centurions”, etc. I agree wholeheartedly with Coppenger where he wrote,
“Rather than performing most of the ministry, as in the Western church, the church’s leadership is to equip the saints for their ministry. When effective leadership like this is executed, a church flourishes, since ‘then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit’ (Eph. 4: 14). The leadership of the kingdom outpost is critical.”(Kindle Locations 1784-1787)
He has identified a tremendous problem in the churches of the U.S. Membership seems to have turned over all ministry to the paid staff. Staff should be teaching, training, exhorting, encouraging, gently reproving, etc. so that the membership will be equipped and ready to expand the borders of the kingdom.
Coppenger’s idea of the local church serving as a kingdom outpost carries with it the notion that this outpost exists not only for its own wellbeing but also for the benefit of those who are not yet members of the kingdom. The subjects of the King in a local kingdom outpost must use the Word of the King so that outsiders will be able to see a difference between them and the rest of the world. The King’s subjects must also deliver the Word of the King to outsiders so that they can see how to share in the kingdom.
The subjects of the King are commanded to live a life in service to the King which necessarily includes serving other subjects of the King in addition to those not yet in the kingdom. Coppenger rightly stated, “While verbal proclamation is central to the mission, so are the nonverbal aspects of our obedience and witness. Discipleship is a seamless endeavor, encompassing the whole of our lives, the entirety of Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 28: 18- 20). (Kindle Locations 1856-1858)
Coppenger summed up his argument, “Even though we enter into Christ’s kingdom immediately by faith, we are still in the present evil age. While the world stays under the control of the enemy, Christ is creating more and more kingdom outposts; he is creating local churches.” (Kindle Locations 1876-1878) A few years ago, I preached a sermon series based on the parables of the kingdom taken mostly from the book of Matthew. I suspect I may need to revisit that sermon series from a new perspective gathered from Coppenger’s presentation of the mission from the perspective of the King, who is ever intent on expanding his kingdom.
I appreciated George Robinson’s essay, “The Gospel and Evangelism”. He emphasized that the Bible is one coherent, unified whole not a collection of disjointed one-liners. I have observed the consequences of this type of erroneous thinking that Robinson is combatting. I agree with Robinson that many have gone wrong in ignoring the Old Testament. He is correct that the cross is the central fact in the narrative and all parts of the narrative point to the cross. I also agree with him that the rest of the New Testament teaching is vital and necessary. I would make one small addition to this idea. Any man with a simple message of the Cross (Christ killed, buried, risen) can successfully lead another man to saving faith. Obviously, that man’s faith will not be nearly as vibrant and rich as it will be when he discovers the rest of the story. With Billy Graham’s birthday being celebrated this week, I am reminded of his simple, powerful, effective message. I appreciated Robinson’s repeated restating of the truth that we are saved from God’s wrath and for God’s presence. Robinson’s conclusion to his essay is a marvelous tribute to the importance of the grand narrative as well as our responsibility to share it. (Kindle Location 2303)
I have often declared that benevolence ministry is far-and-away the most difficult ministry to engage in. I found Sean Cordell’s essay, “The Gospel and Social Ministry” to be thought provoking. His lengthy discussion about identifying and categorizing the poor is helpful. He is right on target in declaring that while spiritual poverty and physical poverty are certainly connected, the former is the most significant. His “Summary of the poor in Scripture” (Kindle Location 2516) is biblical and helpful. The summary of Scriptural principles guiding the church in its care of the poor is well stated and for the most part provides good guidance for the local church.
“The church, in her care for the poor, begins with the poor who are believers. This principle acknowledges that ministry to the poor is to begin with the church but not to the neglect of the unbelieving poor (Acts 2; Gal. 2: 10; 6: 9- 10; 1 Tim. 5: 3,5). The missional church prioritizes the “guiltless poor” over the “guilty poor” (Jer. 2: 34; Isa. 9: 17). The missional church is composed of believers who are overflowing with God’s love; they proclaim and apply the gospel clearly not only among believers but to the lost world that needs Jesus through what might be called the 60/ 40 trajectory of care.” (Kindle Locations 2602-2607)
I am not in conflict with Cordell’s 60/40 trajectory of care which is more fully explained later in the essay, but I am not sure that there is a biblical basis for it. The diagram and accompanying descriptions with illustrations help to make Cordell’s position clear. (Kindle Location 2632)
Alan and Katherine Carter in “The Gospel and Lifestyle” make a great point “As we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, God creates within us a very singular desire: his glory in all things and before all people. Thus, an authentic Christian lifestyle is one that clearly reflects this single desire. It is not a life simply altered to replace morally abhorrent actions with good, moral deeds.” (Kindle Locations 3319-3321) I appreciate their identification of two opposing errors: surface only distinctiveness from the world and withdrawal from the world that we are supposed to reach. I found their chart (Kindle Location 3396) to be helpful. I wonder why they did not include joy in the list of decision making influences in the biblical model. The Bible almost always follows passages of doctrine with passages of application which are given so that we can judge ourselves to see if we measure up. The Carters do the same thing by including a section entitled “Marks of a Well-Stewarded Life”. This section is a good description of how we can evaluate ourselves. I agree with the need to not be frantic in our ministry but I would have come up with a different name for the quality that they called “slowness”. Their focus on financial stewardship is well founded. They correctly identified a significant issue for U.S. Christians when they stated, “The way a believer manages his resources directly affects his ability to share the gospel effectively.” (Kindle Locations 3573-3574)
The Church’s Mission to the Nations
The book’s lengthy third section, “the Church’s Mission to the Nations” takes a close and detailed look at various barriers in cross-cultural missions. The authors emphasize that these barriers exist inside the borders of the Christian’s own country as well as when the Christian moves outside his homeland. This section of the book points out that the mission to the nations is more than just reaching political entities or evangelizing people within the borders particular countries but more accurately is “preaching the gospel to all tribes, tongues, and languages, indeed from all people groups.” (Kindle Locations 154-155) This section of the book also highlights the fact that our mission must include teaching people to obey the commands of God. It reminds us that we ought to expect persecution for our efforts. “Chapters 16- 20 treat mission to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, and Postmoderns.” (Kindle Locations 160-161) This section emphasizes the best response to all false religion, “The Christian gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation and the biblical narrative alone explains God, humanity, and the world.” (Kindle Locations 162-163)
I did not find Tracy McKenzie’s argument to be compelling where he used various Scriptures, but Deuteronomy 32, particularly in an attempt to show that God was going after Gentiles in order to make the Jewish nation jealous. (Kindle Location 3862) Furthermore I did not think he proved the following assertion: “This illustrates a keen awareness of Exodus 3:14 and indicates the author’s tendency to allude to previous Scripture in order to communicate a message.” (Kindle Locations 3933-3934) It seems to me that McKenzie’s exegesis of Hosea 1:9 was a little loose.
I very much appreciated M. David Sills’ emphasis on diligently following up in areas that had experienced widespread spiritual awakening and/or revival. His quotation of D.A. Carson’s evaluation of his experience with the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) confirmed what I already thought to be true. (Kindle Location 4908) Carson was obviously convinced that training leaders was of utmost importance. Sills assessed his involvement in the Quichuan Revival of the 1970s and 1980s in the same terms and came to the same conclusions. I agree with Sills’ statement, “The difficulty of the time-consuming task of deep discipleship and training is worth the effort required to plant sound churches with biblically qualified leaders.” (Kindle Locations 4921-4923) Sill’s relating of the discussion following the question about his parents eternal destiny from a Quichuan native is sobering indeed. (Kindle Location 5004)
I believe that J.D. Payne is right on target when he defined biblical church planting in contrast to what many modern church planters do:
“Rather, biblical church planting follows after the way of Jesus and the apostolic church. An examination of the New Testament reveals that those first church planters began by reaching people from the harvest fields. The biblical starting point for church planting is with unbelievers, not Kingdom citizens (Acts 13- 14). As the gospel is taken into the highways and hedges of this world, the marketplaces, and the public squares, people will come out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light, will gather together as local kingdom communities, and will journey together in learning what it means to know “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2: 2) as they obey all that he commanded (Matt. 28: 20). They in turn will continue to carry out the mission of God in their contexts and throughout the world.” (Kindle Locations 5129-5134)
I especially agreed with his starting point for church planting. I was inspired by Payne’s statement regarding vision. He contends that good church planters start with the end in mind. Payne wrote,
“Church planters concerned with the mission of God look at a crowd of unbelievers comprising their mission field and do not see a church they can pastor, but they see multiple churches, multiple pastors, and hundreds of kingdom citizens. They do not simply see new believers gathered together once or twice a week for a good time of worship and fellowship, but rather an army of new kingdom citizens who will live according to the kingdom ethic and begin to transform their homes, schools, work places, towns, villages, cities, and the world for the glory of God. (Kindle Locations 5171-5175)
He has projected a vision that in my estimation is badly needed not only by missionaries and church planters but also by every pastor of local churches. Payne rightly stated, “If a church ceases to exist or function as a missional community when the money disappears, the structures collapse, and the meeting place burns to the ground, then that church was not rooted in the God of mission.” (Kindle Locations 5208-5209) What a marvelous declaration that many comfortable pew sitters need to hear.
Zane Pratt has correctly identified a problem that I see in myself and many of my peers. We are afflicted a disease. We value comfort and safety over everything else, including the Great Commission. Pratt is exactly right when he asserts that all people suffer, Christians should expect to suffer more, and Christians active in sharing the gospel will suffer most. “Even more intensely, suffering is linked to the work of the advance of the gospel.” (Kindle Location 5333)
The comparing and contrasting overviews of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Animism, in light of the creation-fall-redemption-restoration narrative were fascinating. I appreciated the inclusion of advice about how to approach adherents of the various religions in terms of evangelism and discipleship.
I appreciated Theodore Curry’s reminder that Islam considers its message to be a continuation as well as a correction of misinterpretations of the Torah and the Gospel. The description of the metanarrative of Islam was concise and understandable. I believe that it will prove helpful to me in the coming years as Islam remains a formidable foe. I particularly appreciated the comparing and contrasting of various types of prophets in the Islamic tradition. Curry’s overview of Sharī’a Law helped me to understand this very important element of Muslim relations. (Kindle Locations 5679ff) I am grateful to Curry for making me aware of the Islamic controversy surrounding the crucifixion of Christ. “If he was not crucified then he is still alive which posed a potential challenge to the supremacy of Muhammad as the final prophet.” (Kindle Location 5791) I differ just a little from Curry when he asserts, “In isolation, the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus do not make sense when abstracted from their narrative context.” (Kindle Locations 5809-5810) I would say that because of the Bible’s divine nature and my own past experience these stories are not reduced to making no sense when interpreted outside of the narrative context. Before I realized the significance of the overall narrative, I thus interpreted and applied Scripture outside the overarching narrative context. The stories made sense; however, the aforementioned stories do indeed make better sense when kept in context of the overall narrative of creation-fall-redemption-restoration. Curry’s warnings against forming a Christian Sharī’a and against trying to create Western democracies are well founded. (Kindle Location 5837ff)
I found the discussion of dharma by J.B. Snodgrass to be educational and I suspect it will later prove to be helpful. (Kindle Location 6058ff) “For a Hindu right religion boils down to the proper practice of one’s dharma, not the correctness of one’s faith. Hindus are much more concerned with orthopraxy than orthodoxy.” (Kindle Locations 6075-6076)
I was shocked by the following passage written by Calvert and Crane, “Animistic beliefs and practices may be found in every region of the world, including the United States and Europe, and they may be observed even among the adherents of every major world religion. Gailyn Van Rheenen and others have noted that 40 percent or more of the world’s population is impacted by animistic thinking. (Kindle Locations 6754-6757) I had no idea that the percentage would be that high.
I think J.D. Greear is correct in assessing postmoderns when he states, “This loss of authority is the most important quality of postmodernism, and all the other qualities ultimately derive from this one.” (Kindle Locations 7098-7099) I appreciated Greear’s assessment of spiritual authority and his commitment to expository preaching of the Bible. He pointed out a great problem in the American church, “Western pastors often teach the Bible as if it were a collection of vignettes about great men and women whose examples we should emulate, or as a sourcebook of wisdom on how we can make our lives work. We treat the Bible as if its main subject matter was us.” (Kindle Locations 7251-7253, emphasis mine) “When we preach each story of the Bible as if it is simply an example for us to emulate, we reduce the Bible to a collection of self-help techniques. Our audience simply fits “Christian” principles into their idolatrous, self-centered stories.” (Kindle Locations 7272-7274, emphasis mine) I believe that I will be able to effectively use Greear’s explanation of strategies and techniques to present the gospel to “postmoderns”. I was a little disappointed by his recommendation and positive appraisal of Choung’s four circle evangelism tool. In fact I was very disappointed at first until, Greear got around to mentioning his problem with the glaring omission. However, I am still not convinced that this evangelism method is a good one because of its lack of emphasis on the need for an individual decision. I do not agree with Greear where he wrote, “This is not only a more fully biblical presentation of the gospel; it is also a more relevant presentation for contemporary Western culture, which is asking the question of what ‘earthly good’ a ‘heavenly gospel’ can do.” (Kindle Locations 7389-7390) Perhaps it is a more relevant presentation for contemporary Western culture (though I am not convinced of that); however, I am positive that it is not a more fully biblical presentation.
The fourth section of the book “Concluding Challenges” is designed to serve as a complement to the first section. This section takes a systematic look at theology in light of its effect on missions and emphasizes its importance. In fact, this section claims that theology drives missions. This section sounds a call to be faithful to biblical mandates no matter what the cultural norms are.
I really appreciate Ashford’s position early in chapter 21, concerning the vital importance of staying true to biblical doctrine. His critique of our tendency to divorce our practice from our stated belief was absolutely on the mark. His examples of where we would wind up based on how we got off track were insightful and accurate. (Kindle Location 7467) I wish Ashford had been a little more clear when he wrote, “Our evangelical churches believe that Scripture is written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of himself to man.” (Kindle Locations 7475-7476) At first I thought I was in disagreement with him, but upon a closer reading I decided that I had misunderstood what he meant. My position is that the words of Scripture are inspired and the human author is inspired for those words of Scripture only. The human author is not inspired in any other writings. In Ashford’s discussion of God’s great name, he wrote the following:
“Another implication is that if our ultimate goal is God’s glory, then we are set free from unbridled pragmatism. Our ultimate goal is to please God, not to manipulate or coerce professions of faith, church growth, or church multiplication. And so we are directed away from the temptation to engage in evangelism and discipleship that subverts the gospel or the health of the church, and we are free to proclaim the gospel God’s way and leave the results to God.” (Kindle Locations 7557-7560)
I believe that Ashford has struck a note that needs to be played all across Christendom. We have forgotten the real goal and set up false goals. In fact, we (and I include myself) have approached idolatry in trying to reach these false goals that are more in line with directing glory to ourselves. Ashford has pointed out a great freedom that comes from directing all honor and glory to God. It also protects us from, in Ashford’s words, “subverting the gospel”. I picked up several evangelism strategies from his section on the various ways that man’s relationships are all broken. (Kindle Location 7654ff) Ashford made a great point when he told us how we can know Christ better, “We are to be instruments in God’s hands as he makes clear to the world that he is not a tribal deity. He is the Creator, King, and Savior of the nations, and we will not know him in his full splendor until we know him as the King of the nations.” (Kindle Locations 7922-7924) I have long been aware of God’s efforts toward that end in the Old Testament, but I had not recognized it in the New Testament before. I am still trying to digest footnote 25 regarding the use of “Allah” in Arabic translations of the Bible. (Kindle Location 8042) I am amazed at the illustration in footnote 30 regarding the new convert’s plan for sharing the gospel in Islamic lands. (Kindle Location 8062) I expect to be using that story as a sermon illustration very soon.
Akin and Ashford correctly identified a major need, if not the most significant need, of the American church, “First and foremost, we must find ways to build mission into the DNA of our churches. Mission is not a sometime “ministry” of the church; it is at the heart of who she is.” Kindle Locations 8234-8235) I also appreciated their focus on cooperative efforts which should include church planting and church renewal.
In conclusion, I was encouraged and affirmed by the emphasis throughout all the essays on the Grand Narrative because I consistently emphasize that myself. I was inspired to put more emphasis on the local church’s mission to the Nations. Also, I learned quite a bit about dealing with cross-cultural missions opportunities.