The Future of the Global Church
William Carey Library, 1605 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 256 pages, 2011, $39.99.
—Reviewed by Justin D. Long, missionary researcher, Mission to Unreached Peoples.
In a world awash in information, we are always looking for improved ways for getting a handle on the current state of Christianity and the missionary task. Resources like the World Christian Encyclopedia and Operation World give us an in-depth look at this on a country-by-country basis. In The Future of the Global Church, Patrick Johnstone has given us a concise, yet popularly-accessible summary of where we’ve been, are now, and might be going.
Johnstone is former editor of Operation World. In the course of that decades-long task, he amassed both enormous amounts of information and a global perspective. He also gained the skill of succinctly boiling huge databases down to the important points. The Future of the Global Church is arranged around nine major themes, each of which is broken down into a handful of topics. For example, “Demography” discusses such topics as population, migration, urbanization, disease, climate change, economies, energy, politics and freedom, and water resources. Each of these gets a two-page spread replete with wonderful maps and charts, as well as a summary of the topic.
Thus, we are given a fantastic introduction to the major challenges, issues, and opportunities in Christian mission today. Using this in tandem with Operation World gives readers the global context for local issues. Patrick’s historical section also offers readers a general grasp of two thousand years of Christian history that have led us to where we are now.
Personally, I greatly benefitted from section number seven on the unevangelized. Here, instead of introducing regions and countries, Johnstone discusses People Group Affinity Blocks and Clusters. This is how many missiologists and missionary strategists are now looking at the world; many organizations are in fact restructuring themselves along these lines. It’s especially important as diasporas are moving worldwide.
Johnstone has written what is likely his magnum opus, a book that deserves careful perusal and a place on the bookshelves of any mission-passionate Christian. I hope that a careful reading especially of the people clusters of the world will unlock the visionary calling and obedience of a new generation of missionaries who will bring the blessing to the ends of the earth.
Check this title:
Barrett, David, George Kurian, and Todd Johnson. 2001. World Christian Encyclopedia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 503-505. 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.