Richard J. Jones, Professor Emeritus of Mission and World Religions, Virginia Theological Seminary, had this to say about my new book, Going Global with God: Reconciling Mission in a World of Difference, in response to the publisher’s request for a comment:
This book will help two kinds of readers: those who ask quizzically, “Does the Church still do mission?”, and those still reeling from a missionary encounter who ask, “What was that all about?”
I’m gratified that Jones highlighted practical uses for the book. It is indeed surprising how many members of mainline denominations see world mission as a thing of the past and are startled to find that their churches “still do mission.” For instance, an Episcopal couple served in Kenya through the Church of the Nazarene until they discovered through a conversation with their pastor that the Episcopal Church was still sending missionaries! So it’s good to know that Jones thinks Going Global with God will clarify the churches’ continuing engagement.
Second, Jones is identifying an audience among the many people who experience international and cross-cultural mission as very powerful, typically through a “short-term mission,” but then feel they need help in understanding and analyzing it. As noted in the book, the proliferation of such experiences is part of the grassroots democratization of mission by which most church members today experience mission through such journeys from their congregations, not through initiatives from denominational headquarters. In-depth training frequently does not take place in advance of such ventures, hence the need for help in understanding “what that was all about.”
Jones was long active in the Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission, for which he served as convener, and in the Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. He retired from VTS in 2009 after more than two decades of teaching at the seminary. An expert in Islam, he is now the first Al-Alwani Professor of Muslim Christian Dialogue for the Washington Theological Consortium. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto focused on the theology of Kenneth Cragg’s well known book, The Call of the Minaret.
I am grateful to Jones for his comment.