by Marvin J. Newell
Newell approaches the Great Commission narratives as sequential rather than synoptic. Each of the five Great Commission passages builds on the others to present the Commission.
ChurchSmart Resources, 3830 Ohio Ave., Saint Charles, IL 60174, 2010, 182 pages, $12.00.
—Reviewed by Mike McDowell, executive director, Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa (ZEMA).
Vince Lombardi was an American football coach known for getting his team back on track by executing the basic fundamentals of the game. He once reminded his team of professional athletes that they needed to refocus by saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Marv Newell has done something similar by saying, in effect, “Gentlemen, this is the Commission.”
Since you are reading this review in EMQ, you most likely have dedicated your life to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. You may have studied, exegeted, taught, and preached the Great Commission passages. If, like me, you are someone who embraces the Great Commission and missionary task of the Church with every ounce of your being, then you may be wondering if this latest work by Newell is necessary. The answer is, “Gentlemen, this is the Commission!” It is, after all, what we in missions are all about. Commissioned: What Jesus Wants You to Know as You Go is a back-to-basics book on the meaning and application of the Great Commission.
Newell approaches the Great Commission narratives as sequential rather than synoptic. Each of the five Great Commission passages builds on the others to present the Commission. According to Newell, “One of the most common mistakes made when reading through the Gospels is to treat these passages as though they were synoptic.” He also has a unique way of describing the significance of each of the Great Commission texts and how they relate to the other by highlighting the emphasis of each passage: John 20:21 is the model, Mark 16:15 is the magnitude, Matthew 28:18-20 is the method, Luke 24:44-49 is the message, and Acts 1:8 is the means. These descriptions and how Newell unpacks them is worth the price of the book, but there is more to Commissioned than just this analysis.
The subtitle, What Jesus Wants You to Know as You Go, is the focus of Part Two. Here, Newell provides a multifaceted application to his analysis. He pulls together the five Great Commission passages into what he calls the “Great Commission diamond” of messenger, message, strategy, and goal. A consummate teacher, Newell breaks down the ideas he presents in easy-to-understand terminology and even has a section which answers questions about the Great Commission. You’ll find leadership principles, a description of the remaining task, and a personal challenge in this book. Newell has given us a biblical theology of missions which is personally challenging and applicable in classroom setting. Whether you want to increase your understanding of the missionary task or you have been called to communicate it in a classroom setting, this book provides the means for both. Newell’s experience and heart as a field missionary, administrator, educator, and leader in the field of missions pour out onto these pages.
EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 4, pp. 496-498. Copyright © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.