You can always count on Upstream pointing you to great books. One of the books we love is Introduction to Global Missions by Zane Pratt, M. David Sills, and Jeff K. Walters. Pratt is the Vice President for Global Training at the International Mission Board and former dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Sills is a missiology professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of Reaching and Teaching International. Walters is a former missiology professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the Lead Pastor of Missions and Church Planting at Pinelake Church in Mississippi. We recently caught up with Walters to hear more about Introduction to Global Missions and why it should be taken advantage of by churches, not just undergrads.
There are tons of textbooks for missions out there already. Why write another one?
This book is unique mainly in that it was a collaborative project between three missionaries. Zane, David, and I have each spent time overseas, and we still deeply desire to serve there. We see ourselves as missionaries. It just happens that we’re also teachers. It’s a text that is rooted not simply in theory but our own experience of and passion for global missions. It also lays foundations while remaining accessible—we wrote it with college students in mind, so it doesn’t get overly technical or advanced. And it also gets to the sending church and contemporary issues in missions.
All the authors of this text remember well the joy of discerning God’s will and his missionary call on our lives. When he made clear the place and opened the door to go, the excitement was joined by a myriad of emotions: joy to join him on mission, thankfulness to be so chosen, sorrow to say good-bye, anxiety of the unknowns, contentment in knowing life’s purpose, peace of resting in his will, and many more. (220)
How might you see this book impacting the sending church conversation?
I’ve had some great conversations with pastors about this. As a pastor myself, I dream of seeing local churches using this book as a resource for raising up and training their own missionaries. To conduct any effective ministry in any context requires good missiology—culture and language acquisition, contextualization, indigeneity. These are things that should be common thought and practice in the local church. This book teaches those things in a clear way. It’s a missiological text on the church, so it makes sense to use it in the church. I can see small groups, mission teams, Sunday School classes—anyone—benefitting from it.
We have you in mind—whether you are looking ahead to full-time missionary service for a lifetime, a pastor seeking to lead your church on mission, or a first-time, short-term missions team member. Jesus’ Great Commission command to “make disciples of all nations” is for the whole church, so the whole church needs to understand the why and how of missions. (vii)
Why did you choose to include a chapter about the local church?
Somewhere between the church at Antioch and the church of the 20th century, we lost connection between the local church and the global mission field. The sending church conversation is in part a new movement toward reconnecting churches directly to the mission field. It would be a mistake to write about missions and not include the local church. Basically, this book is what we teach each week in the classroom—in print. It reinforces the classroom, and is now made available to those who don’t want or need to take formal classes. This book by no means replaces the Scriptures. But it places every church in what God is doing among the nations.
Contemporary biblical theologians have identified a missional theme throughout the Scriptures: that God is a sending God. Along the same lines theologians, pastors, and leaders have long recognized the centrality of the local church in missions, even if that theology has not always been show in practice. Johannes Blauw said that a theology of mission must, by necessity, be a theology of the church…George Vicedom contended that churches do not have the option of decide whether or not to do missions. Their decision is whether or not be the church. (238-239)