Category Archives: Missions

Books Read in 2016

At the end of each the year I put out the list of books I have read that year. Usually they consist of a lot of theology books, followed up by a good chunk of philosophy books, and a few fiction books thrown in. In 2013 I read 106 books. In 2014 I read 87 books. In 2015 I read  88 books. This year, my numbers went down drastically. However, that was mainly because I was in school again, reading lots of journals and book chapters, and writing a whole bunch. The numbers also dropped because I stopped reading at the gym. My workouts sort of changed (became more intense) so I no longer read while doing cardio. Anyway, this year’s total is 52 book. That’s one per week!


Books Read in 2016 = 52!


  1. Systematic Theology Volume 1 – Wolfhart Pannenberg
  2. Experiences in Theology – Jurgen Moltmann
  3. The Nature of Doctrine – George Lindbeck
  4. The Nature of Confession – Phillips & Okholm


  1. Beyond Foundationalism – Grenz & Francke
  2. The Drama of Doctrine – Kevin Vanhoozer
  3. Black Theology of Liberation – James Cone
  4. Models of God – Sally McFague
  5. Introducing Radical Orthodoxy – James K.A. Smith


  1. Analytic Theology – Crisp & Rae
  2. An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology – Thomas McCall
  3. Four Views on Hell – Preston Sprinkle
  4. Strong and Weak – Andy Crouch
  5. The Problem of Hell – Jonathan Kvanvig
  6. Hell: The Logic of Damnation – Jerry Walls


  1. Gaining by Losing – J.D. Greear
  2. The Unfolding Mystery – Edmund Clowney
  3. Jonathan Edwards Among the Theologians – Oliver Crisp
  4. Sacrifice and Atonement – Stephen Finlan


  1. Knowledge and Christian Belief – Alvin Plantinga
  2. Living on the Devil’s Doorstep – Floyd McClung
  3. How I Changed My Mind About Evolution – Stump and Applegate
  4. The Trinity Among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in the Majority World – Gene Green, Stephen Pardue, K.K. Yeo


  1. Prodigal God – Tim Keller
  2. The Father Heart of God – Floyd McClung
  3. Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous – W. Jay Wood
  4. The Pastor Theologian – Gerald Heistand & Todd Wilson
  5. Reading Romans in Context – Ben Blackwell, John Goodrich, and Jason Matson
  6. You are What You Love – James K.A. Smith


  1. The Claim of Humanity in Christ – Alexandra Radcliff
  2. The Lost Letters of Pergamum – Bruce Longenecker

Lost Track of Dates

  1. Writings on Pastoral Piety – John Calvin (ed. McKee)
  2. Calvin and the Consolidation of the Genevan Reformation – William Naphy
  3. Infant Baptism in Reformation Genega – Karen Spierling
  4. Calvin’s Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension – Julie Canlis
  5. America at the Crossroads – George Barna
  6. The Uncontrolling Love of God – Thomas Oord
  7. Pentecostal Outpourings – ed. Robert Smart, Michael Haykin, and Ian Clary
  8. Crossing Cultures in Scripture – Marvin Newell
  9. Rational Faith – Stephen Evans
  10. What is Reformed Theology – R.C. Sproul
  11. Judaism Before Jesus – Anthony Tomasino
  12. Reordering the Trinity – Rodrick Durst
  13. Delighting in the Trinity – Michael Reeves


  1. A Little Handbook for Preachers – Mary Hulst
  2. Love Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life – Henri Nouwen
  3. Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective – Marc Cortez


  1. The Vulnerable Pastor – Mandy Smith
  2. Serving a Movement – Timothy Keller
  3. Saving Calvinism – Oliver Crisp
  4. Paul’s New Perspective – Garwood Anderson
  5. Soul Keeping – John Ortberg

Crossing Cultures in Scripture

Years ago I took a class on The Biblical Theology of Mission with Charles van Engen at Fuller. We basically ran (it sure felt like running) through the whole bible looking at “mission” everywhere it appeared for 10 quick weeks. Our final assignment was to write a paper taking one missiological issue and trace the thread throughout scripture. I remember what issue I wrote on. It was on multi-cultural people. I looked at the stories of Moses, Timothy, and Paul.

Basically my paper went a little bit like this:

  • My Story of Multi-Cultural Confusion
  • The Missiological Context
  • Reading Scriptures for the Sake of Formation in this Area
  • Mission Insights
  • Mission Actions
  • Re-telling My Story in Light of Scripture

Marvin Newell, in his new book Crossing Cultures in Scripture has written a book very much like the sort of assignment we were given in Van Engen’s class. Each chapter even has a very similar structure!

In the span of about 300 pages Marvin Newell moves through 36 chapters, drawing missiological insights from the stories of Ruth, Solomon, Daniel, Jesus, The Jerusalem Church, Paul, and the Writer of Hebrews. From these stories he covers topics like Honor and Shame, being a multi-cultural leader, cross-cultural conversion, ethnocentrism, crossing-cultures-in-scripturetransnationalism, cross-cultural conflict management, and doxological diversity.

Among the 36 chapters I particularly liked the chapter on Jacob’s marriage. Here Newell covers the topic of “the consequences of cross-cultural ignorance.” As you know, Jacob ended up with a wife, not of his choosing, because of a lack of awareness regarding marriage customs. From this simple story we learn that on mission ignorance of customs doesn’t actually serve as an excuse and that as a foreigner cultural exceptions don’t apply. This just goes to show when crossing cultures we need to make every effort to learn the customs in our host’s culture. I also loved the chapter on the book of revelation. There he says that “doxological diversity” is God’s ultimate purpose! If only more American Evangelicals were aware of this principle!

In addition to having some really interesting chapters I think the primary high points of this book actually come when Newell integrates stories his real life missionary experiences into the lessons he draws from the sections of Scripture. There we see theory hit the ground. Also, a highlight of this book comes in the very clearly marked “crossing takeaway” sections. There he lists 2-4 insights that we ought to take away from the biblical stories. Newell has made this book immanently practical.

For these reasons and more I would recommend this book to biblical theology of mission classes. Maybe partner it up with Wright’s The Mission of God and/or Glasser’s Announcing the Kingdom. It would act well as a supplement to that genre of book. Another option would be to assign this book to a Sunday school class on missions. Maybe pick 8-12 of the stories from this book, assign these chapters to your class and talk about them. Either way, this is a very useful book for getting people oriented to the missiological nature of scripture.

Scripture is a crosscultural book. It was written in cross-cultural contexts. Its full of cross-cultural encounters. It assumes cross-cultural movements. It ends with cross-cultural worship.

I’ll admit, I had some issues with some of Newell’s readings of particular texts, but nothing that was big enough for me to hesitate recommending this book. In fact I highly recommend it because Crossing Cultures in Scripture highlights the cross-cultural nature of the bible and gives practical steps towards growing into cross-cultural gospel messengers in whatever context God has placed us.

(Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an impartial review.)




The Trinity Among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in the Majority World

Theology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been marked by t51utithkxzlwo trends. The first is a revival of Trinitarian theology. This trend has attempted to place the Trinity at the center of theology and church life. The second is a turn towards the majority world. It has been well documented that in the 20th century the church experienced explosive growth in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, whereas the “Western church” has dwindled. From this growth in the majority world church we are beginning to witness a shift in how theology on the global stage is being done. In The Trinity Among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in the Majority World, editors Gene L. Green, Stephen T. Pardue, and K. K. Yeo bring these two trends together to produce a volume that “brings the global church to theological dialogue regarding kaleidoscopic understandings of the Trinity” (p. 2).

You can read the rest of my review in the latest issue of Themelios (41.2).

Johnny Mac on Developing Leaders

Now – if you know me, you know that I am not John MacArthur’s biggest fan. (Surprise surprise!) However, this short video by him about leadership development is so good, I can’t help but share it. MacArthur is absolutely right, strong churches will have a huge influence for God in this world, but strong churches begin with strong leaders…

Missions Insights with Dr. John MacArthur: Why Invest in Training National Pastors? from TMAI on Vimeo.

ECI Guatemala Trip

On November 18th-November 22nd a team from ECI traveled to Guatemala City to lead Roca de Ayuda Ministries’ annual pastors conference. While in Guatemala the ECI team was able to make some important connections with local pastors who share the same vision for biblical equipping of other pastors. Relationships were developed and friendships were made, the team was even invited to a Christian concert for youth at El Estadio del Ejercito! After spending a few days in meetings, the team went to Roca de Ayuda Ministries for the annual pastor’s conference. There were about 200 pastors and leaders in attendance. These pastors came from all over the city and even from rural areas. A few of the pastors rode public transportation for over 8 hours to be at this event! Roca de Ayuda provided breakfast for these pastors, leaders, and wives. Breakfast was followed by a time of worship and then teaching. Chris Woznicki taught about the role of a shepherd and Jose Luis Amezquita taught about the Biblical teaching on homosexuality. At the end of the event ECI gave out 5 MacArthur Study Bibles, and Roca de Ayuda provided food and clothing for the pastors to take home.

Overall the event was a great success, the pastors walked away feeling encouraged, cared for, and better equipped for ministry.


Crossing Cultures With Jesus

I think if found it!

In just a few short days I will be leading a group of 20 college students on a short term mission trip to Uganda. For many of the students this is their first mission trip, and for a whole bunch of them it’s the first time they will ever step off American soil. Going on a mission trip can be quite difficult, especially if its your first time… new food, new sights, new sounds, oh and yeah sharing the gospel cross-culturally!

But… I think I found a book that will help those students go through a cross-cultural experience like a mission trip. Its Katie Rawson’s Crossing Cultures with Jesus: Sharing Good News with Sensitivity and Grace.

This book is written by a campus minister who has worked with international students for over three decades! So she is really used to sharing the gospel cross-culturally. In it she shows the reader how to enter into people’s worlds and draw them towards Jesus. The book is filled with encouraging stories, and tons of practical advice. Some of the most helpful parts of her book are the sidebars which she includes. These sidebars cover subjects like: presenting the gospel in an honor-shame culture, listening to God, doing a lectio divinia, characteristics of a welcoming community, hospitality, etc.

The book is split up into two parts. Part one is about developing our own relationship with the Lord and entering into relationship with those we are trying to reach. The second part covers evangelism with cross-cultural sensitivity.

Overall I have to say that…

Crossing Cultures With Jesus is my new go-to book for preparing a short-term mission team.

Even though we had completed all of our training before we are getting ready to leave in a few days, I was so confident in this book that I sent out an email to our whole team saying – if you bring one book on the plane to read bring Crossing Cultures with Jesus.

Its that good!

Note: I received this book from IVP in exchange for an impartial review.

Apostolic Church Planting

Church planting is en vogue. You can find books upon books on the subject and even conferences on the topic that draw 1000’s of attendees. (I have to admit my favorite one of these conferences is Exponential.) But most church planting isn’t planting in the biblical sense. Yes it’s the start of new congregations, which is planting a “church” in some sense, but biblically church planting consists of starting new local gatherings with an emphasis on the creation of new disciples. At least that is what J.D. Payne, pastor of church multiplication at Brook Hills, has to say. Quite simply Payne defines church planting as,

Evangelism that results in new churches.

This (really) short book, which in some sense is a distillation of his longer book Discovering Church Planting: An Introduction to the Whats, Whys, and tumblr_inline_nh93znkgjr1qm2vhiHows of Global Church Planting, is an attempt to provide the reader with the essential aspects – practically and theologically – that are necessary for doing church planting in a Biblical fashion.

Payne begins with stressing the importance of nailing down your ecclesiology before you start planting. He then provides the reader with a sort of “pathway” to planting as well as the stages involved in growing a church plant. Most importantly, in my mind, Payne stresses the need for developing leaders which will one day oversee the church. This is clearly the Pauline model.

Overall, I found this book to be very helpful. It’s a clear and concise model for doing church planting. It draws its insights from Scripture, experience, and testimonies. I myself am not a church planter, but I have plenty of friends who are. After reading this book I came away with a better understanding both theologically and practically about what exactly it is that they are doing. I believe that this book could serve as a useful set of reminders for those who are planting churches. But I also believe, and I hope that this book will help spur on a new generation of church planters.

Note: I received this book from IVP in exchange for an impartial review.