by Warren R. Beattie, ed.
—Reviewed by Ryan Klejment-Lavin, director, Footstool Missions Center, Seoul, South Korea
Asia is arguably the nexus of future missions activity both from receiving and sending missionaries and church planters. Asia is home to the largest unreached people groups, a plurality of the world’s population. These facts notwithstanding, the number of books widely available on engaging in cross-cultural ministry in Asia has been limited. The addition of Ministry Across Cultures and its articles will provide a fertile launching ground for further discussion and debate as to the unique challenges and opportunities facing cross-cultural ministry in Asia.
The book begins by defining and explaining the concepts of culture and worldview, drawing heavily from past works by respected figures like Paul Hiebert and Sherwood Lingenfelter. While this might seem superfluous for the seminary-trained missions scholar, it is nonetheless useful for establishing a common understanding of the terms to use, especially for the Majority World audience.
The main portion of the book is allocated to discussing key areas of ministry, including evangelism, discipleship, and church life. The book includes a discussion as to what makes ministry in each of these areas specifically different in an Asian context. What gives the book special value is the authors’ practical guidance and advice that each learned from his or her own experience on the subject matter in Asia. The text does a good job balancing the theoretical and the concrete of cross-cultural ministry, and draws from the experience of both Eastern and Western ministers and missionaries.
The book concludes with a call for gospel contextualization to be taken up and advanced by church leaders in Asia. As it is true with all places and systems, the gospel needs to impact and transform the culture in Asia. The ones who should undertake this task are not foreign missionaries, but instead, local churches themselves. The responsibility in preparing local church leaders for this task, however, may very well fall on the cross-cultural missionary. It is a call to raise leaders who can engage the gospel on their own instead of remaining reliant upon outsiders.
The only shortfall of this book is its length; the reader is left wishing there were more. Each of the chapters could have been expanded into a section of its own, filled with contributions from cross-cultural ministers and local church leaders. That said, the authors in this volume do an excellent job of starting the conversation. Ministry Across Cultures is a welcome addition to missions scholarship.
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EMQ, Vol. 53, No. 2. Copyright © 2017 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.