The Changing Face of World Missions: Analysis

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On the whole, this is a balanced book, which introduces each side of the arguments encountered. Sometimes, however, one is not clear whether Pocock, Van Rheenen and McConnell are making their own assertions or simply rehearsing others'. Often, and perhaps inevitably, a North American bias emerges in terms of language, theology and social analysis - for example, many Christians in Europe and the developing world would question the assertion that "The hand of God is discernible in globalization." The authors acknowledge that global religions will be radically altered by changing demographics and, in the case of Christianity, a paradigm shift in the orientation of mission. In outlining the nature of these shifts, however, the authors fail to paint a convincing picture of what global mission will be like in, say, twenty years' time. Such forecasting is clearly not a simple task - but the seriousness of the missionary undertaking should encourage practitioners to think strategically and long-term. The book would have benefited from either an expanded introduction (just seven pages plus two pages of definitions) or a thorough conclusion. Instead, the reader is left with a series of helpful but disparate and unconnected chapters and the overall picture isn't really brought together. Also, there is little to indicate which of the twelve chapters' trends are the most important, or how they interact. The Changing Face of World Missions promises to help the reader "discover trends that are changing the shape of world missions," and it does just that - but this is at the surface-level, not a critical dissection. It functions well as an introductory volume, a signpost to deeper and more specialist literature, and culminates in a helpful 500-work reference list (although a short, key-works bibliography would have enhanced each chapter). Peppered throughout the book are quotes and references from the majority world, although not as many as one would hope for from a book on...
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