By Tanwin Tanoto
Book reviewed: Nathan Sloan. You Are Sent: Finding Your Place in God’s Global Mission (New Growth Press: Greensboro, NC) 2022.
Just like doing missions, this book is meant to be experienced together.
You Are Sent is not meant to be read alone. This book is a communal workbook. It is best to be read together in a small group or church-wide context. This is not a book where one person reads and then transforms the whole community, but this is a book to be read in a community that will transform the surrounding of that community. You Are Sent is a communal workbook.
One of the biggest appeals of this book is its format and delivery. This is packaged as a nine-week missions course that has been written for use in local churches. Therefore, it can be fit contextually to your local church, whatever that it is. The flexibility and the variety of its topics are the main appeals to using this book.
The central idea of this book is “renewal mission”.
It is the idea that “God desires to see His kingdom come both in our own hearts (renewal) and in the world (missions), and these happen together.”
In other words, personal growth in repentance and faith and going out in mission are not two separate things. Mission and discipleship are one thing.
Mission is not what we do after we have done discipleship or mission is the result of our discipleship. But mission and discipleship are one. “Renewal keeps leading to more mission, and mission keeps leading to more renewal.”
That central idea is expressed through different topics.
First, biblically – by looking at God’s mission in the Old and New Testament.
Second, historically – by giving a high-view survey of the church’s missions throughout history.
Third, culturally – by teaching us how to read and understand cultures and how to engage culture with the gospel.
As I mentioned, one of the appeals of this book is its format. This book is designed to be read and discussed in a group over a nine-week period. Each week starts with an article that needs to be read before the group meets. These articles serve as the main thought to be discussed that week which is then followed by the teaching component.
The next part of the lesson is the application. This is done by answering and discussing some heart questions – questions on how to apply what the group has just learned to their hearts and everyday life. The last part of the lesson is renewal in the gospel. This is where the group considers how the gospel speaks to their heart and invites them into a deep relationship with God. It is encouraging us to combine mission and discipleship. To be attentive to what God is doing in our lives as we are on missions to others.
At the end of the course, the book also encourages the group to take part in a cross-cultural experience that will live out what has been learned. The book gives some tips on how to do this in a one-day, three-day, and even a short-term trip experience. Again, this book can fit into your local church context.
In closing, You Are Sent is a “why” book, not a “how” book.
This means that the book inspires and encourages you and your group to see missions in light of your discipleship. It does not give you tips on how to do missions but inspires you to do missions. Which is a shortcoming of this book. Although I appreciate the flexibility of this book to cater for different groups in different contexts. I believe it would be useful to have an appendix to inspire the group on “what’s next”. Simple dot points of a list of missional activities that the group can do together would be beneficial.
I would recommend this book to pastors and leaders who want to inspire their church and small groups to see missions as part of their discipleship journey.
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