Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians
by Kim Hammon and Darren Cronshaw
—Reviewed by Ed Scheuerman, chair, Department of Church & Ministry Leadership; coordinator, Intercultural Studies major, Lancaster Bible College
Is every Christian a missionary? According to Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw, the answer is yes. But, as Stephen Neill wrote, “If everyone’s a missionary, nobody’s a missionary.” Thus, the missionary serving in a foreign land is devalued. Written in a time when the word missionary is in need of being redefined, Sentness is an attempt to bridge the gap between missionary and living missionally. Unfortunately, at times, it simply adds to the confusion.
Without question, Sentness brings a fresh approach to living missionally LOCALLY (what others sometimes refer to as Oikos evangelism). It levels condemnation at consumerist churches. Instead, the emphasis is on getting out of the church and into the community, working together to bless those with the blessings we’ve received from God.
The authors rightly attempt to prioritize sentness as the lens through which to view scripture. Missio Dei is often referenced, but not solidly defined except possibly through personal examples. Almost no reference is made to the primacy of God’s glory. The go in Matthew 28:18-20 is understood to be “as you go about your life.” This emphasis on “Jerusalem” dilutes the going to “the ends of the earth” in Acts 1:8.
The true strength of the book is the call to living incarnationally IN the community with sincere sacrifice, vulnerability, and love, thereby shaking up those who are content to just “do church.” It would be a good book for those hoping to be (foreign) missionaries. Are they living missionally here and now—with a sense of local sentness—or just thinking it will happen magically when they get overseas? This book will help potential overseas missionaries to be committed to living missionally wherever they are. Local church mission teams/committees might also use Sentness to assess those being sent.
While the book felt at times like a recruiting tool/advertising for Forge, it helps to bring a balance between centripetal (come and see) and centrifugal (go and tell) missions. The authors use narrative to bring clarity to concepts, though sometimes redundantly. The concepts are similar to those taught by David Hesselgrave and others. While there is nothing new under the sun, this is a good call to revitalizing concepts lost in the consumerist church culture.
Church is not altogether condemned. Rather, it is encouraged—in its various forms—but with the goal of meeting the needs of those around in the community. Unfortunately, that ironically comes across as creating a consumer of the church. Perhaps the real challenge is for the church to become MORE consumerist to those outside the church while becoming LESS so to those entrenched inside the church.
To this end, Sentness is a good start to reclaiming the Church’s role in proclaiming God’s glory to all peoples, especially those in your local context.
Check this title:
Hesselgrave, David J. 1991. Communicating Christ Cross-culturally: An Introduction to Missionary Communication, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.
EMQ, Vol. 51, No. 2 pp. 236-237. Copyright © 2015 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.