Book Review: “Restoring Dignity, Nourishing Hope: Developing Mutuality in Mission”

This book is deceptively short but balances theory and practice in an expert way.  Published in 2016 by Pilgrim Press and edited by Jonathan Barnes and Peter E. Makari, “Restoring Dignity, Nourishing Hope”  is a primer for those who want to know what Global Mission looks like in 2016.  Gone are the colonial stereotypes, paternalism, and  bringing civilization “from the West to the rest.”  Replacing outmoded models of mission with models that recognize 21st Century realities is the main theme of the book.

Written by members of and partners in mission with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, this book understands mission as partnership.  In its concise ten chapters the book invites U.S. mainline Protestants to be attuned to the idea of mission as an essential part of the Christian ministry.  In other words, engagement with people outside the doors of the church (be it 5 feet away or thousands of miles away) is not some optional form of ministry or extra credit but essential to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The book is a good mixture of the Biblical interpretation/theology and practical applications.  In one more theoretical chapter, Beverly Eileen Mitchell grounds the idea of mission in the doctrine of the Trinity–meaning that mission takes its shape from the Triune God.  Therefore, mission is communal, relational, and dynamic.  Using the Trinity as the basis for mission also means that congregations respond to God’s action in mission wherever they are and wherever they act.  It is part of God’s plan for the world to work together for the Divine glory.

Practical stories of folks in mission make up the central portion of the book–including stories of mission in Guatemala, Kenya, Hong Kong, Hungary, South Korea, Venezuela, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A standout chapter is written by Mohammad Sammak, founding member of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian dialogue.  For the Christian neophyte who wants RDNH.covermech_largeto understand more about Islam, Sammak provides a great amount of information about inter-religious dialogue in the Mid-East.

Tom Morse, Executive for Mission Education and Interpretation of the Disciples Office of Mission/Global Ministries has written a very enlightening chapter.  He defines the financial challenge of mission and resources and provides a practical lense through which to view Western mission offerings.  Mr. Morse provides us with a very short checklist for us to determine whether a donation of money is appropriate or not in this global, postmodern culture.   This chapter would be especially helpful to church governing bodies, treasurers, or stewardship committees because Mr. Morse asks surprising questions about our motivation in giving–in the hopes of providing just as surprising answers!

The material in this book is essential for anyone who wants to understand mission in our post-modern world but it would be especially useful for Missions Teams of Churches, Bible Study Groups, Association and Conference Mission Agencies, clergy study groups, and pastors.  Every chapter concludes with probing discussion questions.  In addition, there is an extensive bibliography for further research and discussion.

 

 

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