by Tom Julien
Author Tom Julien weaves a compelling story of a missionary who rediscovered that blueprint in Acts 13 and purposed to coax his home church back to Antioch’s example.
BHM Books, P.O. Box 576, Winona Lake, IN 46590, 2006, 119 pages, $9.99.
—Reviewed by D. Ray Davis, International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention, Richmond, Virginia.
“Missions is not what the church does for the missionary but what the church does through the missionary.” John, a fictional missionary, comes to recognize the tragic divorce that has taken place between the Church and her mission. The story begins with John returning from a term in Africa to challenge his home church, Hillside Church, to be reunited with her God-given mission.
Author Tom Julien writes, “If the Antioch church was supposed to be an example, modern missions somehow had lost the blueprint.” Julien weaves a compelling story of a missionary who rediscovered that blueprint in Acts 13 and purposed to coax his home church back to Antioch’s example. John and his missionary colleagues wrestle with God’s intention for the Church. They consider the role and relationship of missionaries, churches, and mission agencies. The story draws the reader into the exhilaration of their discoveries.
Churches have abdicated their responsibility and have settled to maintain existence instead of being involved directly in the mission task. Julien’s character, John, declares, “We need to get out of the maintenance mode and into the mission mode.” John equates missionary support to alimony! Julien does not suggest that mission agencies are unnecessary. On the contrary, he promotes a triangular partnership between churches, agencies, and missionaries. The pivotal issue for Julien is that churches have been content to express their mission involvement by doing for missionaries instead of impacting the world through missionaries.
Julien’s creation is brilliant—using a simple story to communicate how a missionary and a church came to understand the responsibility of both in obeying the Great Commission. The profound story takes the first eighty-four pages, tracing the journey taken by John and Hillside Church. A 35- page manual, developed by John and his colleagues, is included to reunite the Church with her mission. The manual is a compilation of the discoveries made throughout the saga.
These conclusions are captured as a reference for any church ready to be reunited to her mission. In our day, churches are waking up to their newly discovered responsibility to be directly involved in the Great Commission. Missionaries and agencies are awakening to churches as their newly discovered partners. As the African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Tom Julien illustrates Jesus’ intention that the responsibility of the Great Commission rests upon the Church.
Check these titles:
Miley, George, 2003. Loving the Church, Blessing the Nations. Waynesboro, Ga.: Gabriel Publishing.
Rankin, Jerry, 2005. Empowering Kingdom Growth to the Ends of the Earth. Richmond, Va.: International Mission Board.
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