Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours

by Robert L. Plummer and John Mark Terry, eds.

IVP Academic, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL, 60515-1426, 253 pages, 2012, $22.00.

Reviewed by David R. Dunaetz, former church planter in France; assistant professor of psychology, Azusa Pacific University.

To demonstrate the relevance of Roland Allen’s classic Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours? published a century ago, Robert L. Plummer and John Mark Terry have assembled contributions from many distinguished missiologists. The book covers both Paul’s missionary strategy and Allen’s contribution to modern missions.

The first half of the book is a well-presented overview of Paul in the New Testament. Topics covered include his social-cultural milieu, his biography, his understanding of the gospel and the church, and his mission. Paul’s beliefs about suffering are addressed more in depth than is often the case in Pauline overviews. The discussion of Paul’s view of spiritual warfare is very balanced. Roland Allen is discussed very little in this first half. Indeed, by itself, this part of the book would make a good introduction to Pauline theology and practice.

The second half of the book discusses the relevance of Paul’s mission strategy for today. In this section, there is much more interaction with Allen’s work, sometimes critiquing Roland’s idea, but more frequently, arguing that Allen’s critiques of misguided mission practices (e.g., missionaries not trusting the Holy Spirit to lead young churches and thus staying in place too long) are still valid.

Several chapters are noteworthy and break new ground. David Hesselgrave summarizes Allen’s missiology as what he calls the principle of generational resubmission: each generation must evaluate its own values, methods, and traditions in light of God’s word and must submit itself to God’s Spirit. Michael Pocock presents a convincing argument that Allen’s book has had a transforming influence on the modern mission movement—namely, that missionaries are more aware of their need to depend on the Holy Spirit and to pass control of young churches to indigenous leaders more quickly. John Mark Terry’s chapter summarizes Paul’s strategy and compares it with the strategies advocated by Roland Allen, Henry Venn, John Nevius, Donald McGavern, and Alan Tippett, among others.

This book would be useful for undergraduate and seminary classes that use Allen’s book as a textbook, such as courses in church planting, mission theology, or mission strategies. It naturally accompanies Allen’s book, linking its ideas to contemporary mission issues. Small study groups composed of church planters who have gone through Allen’s book and desiring to continue discussing missiological issues would also find Paul’s Missionary Methods useful.

Check these titles:
Allen, Roland. 1962. Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Ott, Craig, and Gene Wilson. 2011. Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker.


EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 121-122. Copyright  © 2014 Billy Graham Center.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.


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