Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience

by M. David Sills

Moody Publishers, 820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610, 256 pages, 2010, $16.99.

Reviewed by John Charping, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

Is the Great Commission about decisions or disciples? Reaching and Teaching is a call to a balanced missiology of maturing and multiplying churches. M. David Sills, former missionary and current director of Southern Seminary’s DMiss. program, believes the urgency created by current mission strategies are neglecting the spiritual depth needed to see sustained generational growth among those same peoples.

Sills expresses his concern this way: “This worldview [referring to an animistic worldview] does not evaporate upon praying a prayer; deep discipleship and biblical teaching are needed to develop a Christian worldview and godly living” (p. 22). Intentional, long-term discipleship is essential for future generations to have access to the gospel. Every generation must teach the next generation the same truths.

Speaking candidly, Sills points out what he understands to be the motivations behind contemporary missiology and the after-effects they are likely to produce. He cites two major driving factors: (1) the belief that believers can usher in the Kingdom of God with the engagement of every people group and (2) the greater good of seeing multitudes come to Christ. Sills believes these are worthy aspirations, but they lack solid exegesis and do not take into consideration the possibility of a delay in the Lord’s return. He calls for a serious reconsideration of how missionaries seek to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28).

Sills is not playing the role of a cynical critic. Rather, he engages in honest dialogue and offers specific solutions. He asks and answers questions like, How much training is enough? What is the bare minimum that must be taught? Who should do the teaching? What is the balance between search and harvest field theologies? What are the consequences for the methodologies we are using? What about oral peoples? and How do we balance the need for contextualization?

Reaching and Teaching should be required reading for any serious pastor or missionary. Sills is not attempting to get the missiological pendulum to swing to another extreme, but to find a biblical balance of reaching the lost and discipling the nations. He does not suggest a one-size-fits-all approach, or advocate for a Western style for developing leaders. The discipling of nationals must be done in the context of the local people, taking into consideration their learning styles and leadership needs. Reaching and Teaching is a sobering evaluation of the end-product of contemporary, Western missiology.    

Check these titles:
Allen, Roland. 1967. The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes Which Hinder It. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

O’Conner, Patrick. 2006. Reproducible Pastoral Training: Church Planting Guidelines from the Teachings of George Patterson. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.

Smith, Steve and Ying Kai. 2011. T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution. n.p.: WIGTake.


EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 253-254. Copyright  © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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