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2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
God's Missionary PeopleAug 23, 2013
Van Engen's work, God's Missionary People, looks to assess the current state of missions. Looking to address areas of neglect and offering corrective via a refocusing of the Church's current perspective of missions. He recognizes missional ecclesiology as an area historically neglected showing that there has been little agreement between the Church and its understanding of missions throughout most of the 20th century (27). He posits that the Church needs to understand its missiological and eschatological role more clearly. We see that the universality of missions is the very aspect, through which the local church becomes the Church universal (33). A re-envisioning of the Church is possible when we recognize that, although constitutionally made up of by humanity, it is not human hands that build it. "This is at once the sociological theology and the theological sociology of the Church (44).
The author suggests the necessary "attributes" towards universal catholicity, apostolicity and unity need to be developed in the Church by recognizing its position of "sentness" in the Churches apostolic role (76). This is similar to Christ making "his dwelling among us" ; just as Jesus lived in the community so too must we. It must be seen that the missionary Church emerges when its members increasingly participate with their churches "being-in-the-world", and this through understanding the koinonia, kerygma, diakonia, and the martyria. It is through this lens that we see that by loving one another, recognizing the Lordship of Christ, reaching out to the least of the brethren and spreading the witness of reconciliation that the Church can be recognized, as it is through Christ that our "supreme authenticating sign of its own existence" can be realized (90). Van Engem recognizes the concept of missions as being cyclical in nature, in that just as the world needs the Church so to the Church needs the world (126). Looking to the "dialectical paradigm of modern ecclesiology" we see missions viewed both "from above" and "from below" (135). And it is in this we emerge through the very building of ourselves as a Church.
Van Engen looks to develop leadership on a very different model, as the old definition of leadership is inadequate to fit the needs of the local church. This he explains as corporate, with each member of the church playing a vital role in this communal leadership style (165). Although he does recognize that leadership is dynamic with many vicissitudes, being difficult to pin down to a specific praxis, stating; "leadership styles are never static" (174).
This book is well researched and footnoted, with the back of each chapter containing a section covering multiple authors from various disciplines for further study that are topical to each chapter. With 18 pages of biography the book also has a subject index at the very end of the book followed by a scripture index. In this reviewer's opinion this book, once read through fully, should be kept available for quick reference. It as a research tool I plan to keep on my main bookshelf.
2 of 3 found the following review helpful:
Interesting Yet Curious PerspectivesApr 02, 2006
By Rev. Thomas Scarborough
Charles van Engen is a leading missiologist. In keeping with the subtitle of his book: "Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church", he briefly sets ecclesiology and missiology in historical and contemporary perspective, then introduces "a new perspective".
He refers to his view of missions as a "radically new way of affirming the congregation's missionary nature" -- a break with the past twenty centuries of ecclesiology and missiology. While the received definition of missions is "spreading the message of His salvation to the world" (Fleming 1990:296), Van Engen defines this as "to spread throughout the world the knowledge of the rule of the King". Further, in the received view, the justified yet imperfect Church might be said to move continually upward toward God. In Van Engen's view, it moves continually forward through "the impelling force of the Kingdom of God", toward "shalom" -- "an emerging church".
While Van Engen emphasises the necessity to "receive by faith the ONENESS of the church", yet he himself would appear to adopt a sharp exclusivity with regard to "missionary congregations". While he rightly points out that a defective ecclesiology may unnecessarily lead to disunity, this does not appear to translate into a generous view of unity. He defines "missionary congregations" specifically as those which are "called to spread throughout the world the knowledge of the rule of the King", and hold a non-judicial view of salvation. With this in mind, he states that "conversion . . . happens uniquely in missionary congregations". Apparently it would not happen outside of them. There is little to dispel the suspicion that the rest of the Church is of little significance in terms of the central interests of the Church.
On the surface of it, Van Engen would appear to take an uncompromising stand on "the Church's role in establishing justice, righteousness, and SHALOM". Closer examination, however, would appear to reveal a different picture. A characteristic Western duality repeatedly creeps in. He states that the Church has "a debt to the poor and oppressed" -- as though the Church should exist on one side, the poor and oppressed on the other. Not only this, but "incomplete manifestations of the working of the kingdom" are given short shrift, perhaps fatalistically. Van Engen would seem to sense the inadequacy in his views as he notes awkwardly that the Church should "at least struggle more deeply to define" its identification with the oppressed.
While Van Engen gives a useful reminder that we need to "propel the people of God out in ministry in the world", disavowals of disunity, paternalism, domination, and enculturation would surely be too easily deconstructed in his writing.
Fleming, Don. Bible Knowledge Dictionary. Amersham-on-the-Hill, Buckinghamshire: Scripture Press, 1990.
great for EVERY churchMay 05, 2014
By Lindsay Haney
Great foundational read with tremendous and deep insight. It also includes practical application for every local church. I highly recommend it.
A church changing readNov 14, 2013
By Geraldine D.
It is time for the church to move forward from just pushing traps and telling people about Jesus. This book makes it clear that evangelism and missions is about outreach, The author does a great job of helping the read grasp a new way of thinking in these areas.
4 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Church For MissionApr 25, 2000
By Emmanuel Ong Chee Yong
Summary : This book covered the theoretical and practical study on Church and Mission .Charles Van Engen gave an extensive and profound definition on the Church which covered from the biblical images , Church History and theological perspective (Part 1 , pp25-86).The Church is one ,is catholic ,is holy and is apostolic.But Charles Van Engen showed that the Church is also mission-intent for God's Kingdom because Christ's salvation and rule are in the Church and for the World .Therefore the church being the only earthly witness for Christ should engage its essence for the Great Commission (Part 2 , pp87-132) . Every local church is God's missionary people to reachout the whole world into the Lost. To accomplish such a mission task ,four elements in the local church : the Goal-setting , the mission-orientated members ,the commissioned leadership and the church administrative system will all be geared towards mission in passion and vision for the whole world (Part 3 , pp133-192).
Comment : Charles Van Engen's presupposition is that the Church in her essence cannot be divided or separated from her commission in mission to the world because the Church is the only chosen witness for Christ. But the issue is : Does the Church lose its essence when her earthly mission fails ? To make some analogy : (1) Does a man lose his image of God or his manliness if he fallen or paralysied ? (2) Does a cat lose its cat-ness if it loses its four legs and still alive ? My understanding is the Church is still the Church though she has not functioned her entrusted mission to the world . It is the same that Christ is the God in person even if he does not want to save his people on earth ! Because he is still the Lord if he did not be my Savior.
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