Missiology Book Review: Churches, Cultures, and Leadership

Branson, Mark Lau and Martinez Juan F. Churches, Cultures, and Leadership. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

In this book Branson and Martinez offer a practical theology of congregations and ethnicities. They do this by studying churches, mission, and ethnicity from a contextual and theological point of view. They go on to look at various intercultural communication subjects related to mission, churches, and ethnicity. They conclude by offering ways in which we can put what they have shown into practice.

One of the most helpful aspects of this book was the fact that they outlined the practical theology process. Going through the steps of practical theology made me realize that this is how I often do my own theological thinking. In fact the steps that they outline seem to be the steps that most Christians take when theologizing in their day to day life. Most Christians begin by being informed about scripture at some level. Then they make observations about the world. They go back and think through their knowledge of Scriptures, Christian tradition, and personal beliefs, then they rethink the observations they have made in light of these sources. Although for most Christians this hermeneutic circle is usually not expressed explicitly in these steps, it tends to follow this general pattern.

Another helpful aspect of this book was Branson’s explanation of the leadership triad. It makes me wonder what churches would look like if they had interpretative, relational, and implemental leaders. Many churches look to one type of leader, creating in imbalance in leadership. Churches would be greatly served if they somehow incorporated these three types of leadership. (On a side note JR Woodward has recently written an excellent book titled Creating a Missional Culture in which he advocates for a polycentric model of leadership based around the 5 “equippers” of Ephesians 4. It seems as though more and more church leadership experts are advocating for a communal form of leadership rather than and individualistic hierarchical understanding of leadership.)

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