Innovation in Mission: Insights into Practical Innovations Creating Kingdom Impact

by Jim Reapsome and Jon Hirst, eds.

Editors Jim Reapsome and Jon Hirst and eleven authors provide twentieth and twenty-first century examples of innovation in world mission.

Authentic Media, 129 Mobilization Dr., Waynesboro, GA 30830, 2007, 224 pages, $14.99.

Reviewed by John H. Orme, adjunct professor at Moody Graduate School and Wheaton Graduate School; former executive director of the IFMA (Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association of North America).

The change of centuries brings innovation. The years ‘90 through the new century’s ‘10 typically see many inventions and scientific discoveries (Cetron and Davies 2003). Editors Jim Reapsome and Jon Hirst and eleven authors provide twentieth and twenty-first century examples of innovation in world mission. Part One is categorized as “Trends;” Part Two as “Solutions.”

Ellen Livingood’s article on church mobilization is helpful with websites and models for follow-up. Joseph Vijayam’s broad overview of kingdom business gives some good steps based on an example from India. Brent Lindquist’s and Ah Kie Lim’s insightful chapter on member care is from Southeast Asia. John Maust’s article on training writers and publishers is well-written, global, yet specific and is the best section under “Trends.” Maust gives very noteworthy cautions regarding the role of author payment and Western publishers whose subsidized books undercut and weaken fledgling local publishers in the Majority World.

By its nature, a collection of this kind is uneven in coverage. The stories are inspiring yet leave the reader wanting more case studies from a wider range of geographical contexts. Roger Peterson describes significant strengths and benefits of short-term missions; however, these have existed in their present form since at least the 1960s. Formalization and standards have been developed, but I fail to see innovation demonstrated in the article. Innovations in short-term experience combined with school and agency programs such as TIMO of the Africa Inland Mission and the Canadian program Cross Training could have been treated as recent innovative programs.

Part Two offers “Solutions.” Hirst and Dylhoff stretched my thinking. This section should be read by agency tech people. Hirst gives good theory on content infrastructure and a common format, XML, that will allow a greater sharing of mission resources. Dylhoff gives website references and how TEAM is using technology in life-long learning among its members.

“Innovation and the Role of Media” is authored by Kurt Wilson. “Strategic Partnership” is an inspiring story by Sam Chiang of God’s leading in China. Sandoval’s article on resourcing Latin American pastors by using technology for online materials is a great model for other language groups. Sandoval is practical and specific.

Theological education in Africa at NEGST (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology) is a good case study. There are many other innovations in theological education underway in Latin America, Asia and in Africa itself.

Other innovations in today’s missions could have been included. Agency boards are renewing themselves by policy governance, developing a leadership pipeline for the future and re-branding, restructuring and reorienting their whole core. New techniques in language acquisition, creative inroads to limited access countries and insights into traditionally resistant people are a few other exciting innovations in this new twenty-first century. May the continuing gift of creativity in this still new twenty-first century result in effective evangelism and edification worldwide.

Check this title:
Cetron, Marvin and Owen Davies. 2003. American Renaissance: Our Life at the Turn of the 21st Century. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

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