Book Review #4: God’s Missionary People, Van Engen

The thesis of God’s Missionary People is stated as “as local congregations are built up to reach out in mission to the world, they will become in fact what they already are in faith: God’s missionary people” (17). VanEngen divides his book into three parts to address this idea: God’s missionary people, a new vision of God’s missionary people, and becoming God’s missionary people.

Part One

Chapter one: We must rethink church and mission, not as competing factors but as mutually beneficial, interrelated entities – to have one we need the other. It is because of the universal nature of the Church that each individual congregation is missional and as it lives out its missional mandate, it becomes part of the universal Church

Chapter two: The Church is a sociological institution with a spiritual nature; just as Christ was God and man, so the church is both of humanity and the divine. In order to understand the mission of the Church, we must understand and unify both sides of the Church’s nature.

Chapter three: The church in Ephesus is marked by oneness, a unity given by God that defines the parts, but is greater than the sum of the parts (50). The church is called to oneness of faith in Christ, oneness in holiness and oneness in mission.

Chapter four: The four marks of the church, “one, holy, catholic, apostolic,” should be seen as adverbs describing the mission activity of the church rather than simply adjectives describing the church. These four concepts should be reexamined and put into action.

Chapter five: The church must be open to new interpretations of the nature of the Church, but must hold firmly to the truth of Christ as the same “yesterday, today, and forever”. Therefore, new concepts can be evaluated in terms of the four marks of the church.

Part Two

Chapter six: “The missionary church emerges when its members increasingly participate in the Church’s being-in-the-world through koinonia, kerygma, diakonia, and martyria” (89). The church begins to see it’s purpose as it fulfills these four callings.

Chapter seven: There should be a dynamic relationship between church, kingdom and world.

Chapter eight: The mission of Jesus serves as a template for the mission of the Church. Jesus filled the roles of prophet, priest, and king; therefore, the church is called to be a community of prophetic, priestly, kingly people sent into the world.

Part Three

Chapter nine: The presence of the Holy Spirit enables the church to become missional. We must be willing to see the nature of the church be turned into priorities and actions that engage the world.

Chapter ten: We must critique the role and understanding of laity in the church. We need a biblical perspective that sees all believers as “the people of God.” This should result in equipping and training all members to be ministers.

Chapter eleven: In the missionary church, leaders should be mobilizing and equipping the people for ministry, while simultaneously training others to become leaders.

Chapter twelve: The goals of the missional church are not possible without intentional administration to facilitate the work. Godly administration is the facilitator for contextualizing, evaluating, and organizing the resources that send the church into the world.


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