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What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission [Kindle Edition]

Kevin DeYoung
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Social justice and mission are hot topics today: there's a wonderful resurgence of motivated Christians passionate about spreading the gospel and caring for the needs of others. But in our zeal to get sharing and serving, many are unclear on gospel and mission. Yes, we are called to spend ourselves for the sake of others, but what is the church’s unique priority as it engages the world?

DeYoung and Gilbert write to help Christians “articulate and live out their views on the mission of the church in ways that are theologically faithful, exegetically careful, and personally sustainable.” Looking at the Bible’s teaching on evangelism, social justice, and shalom, they explore the what, why, and how of the church’s mission. From defining “mission”, to examining key passages on social justice and their application, to setting our efforts in the context of God’s rule, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a wise, studied perspective to the missional conversation.

Readers in all spheres of ministry will grow in their understanding of the mission of the church and gain a renewed sense of urgency for Jesus’ call to preach the Word and make disciples.

Editorial Reviews


“In what appears to be a growing tension over what the mission of the church encompasses, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a remarkably balanced book that can correct, restore, and help regardless of which way you lean or land on all things ‘missional.’ I found the chapters on social justice and our motivation in good works to be especially helpful. Whether you are actively engaging the people around you with the gospel and serving the least of these or you are hesitant of anything ‘missional,’ this book will help you rest in God’s plan to reconcile all things to himself in Christ.”
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

“Christ is the greatest message in the world, and delivering it is the greatest mission. But are we losing our focus? Are we being distracted, sometimes even by good things? Zealous Christians disagree sharply today over the church’s proper ministry and mission. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert bring us back to first things in an age of mission creep and distraction. Offering balanced wisdom, this book will give us not only encouragement but discomfort exactly where we all need it. It’s the kind of biblical sanity we need at this moment.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Calvin on the Christian Life

“Among the many books that have recently appeared on mission, this is the best one if you are looking for sensible definitions, clear thinking, readable writing, and the ability to handle the Bible in more than proof-texting ways. I pray that God will use it to bring many to a renewed grasp of what the gospel is and how that gospel relates, on the one hand, to biblical theology and, on the other, to what we are called to do.”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“DeYoung and Gilbert have put us in their debt with their clear, biblical, theological, and pastoral exposition of the mission of God’s people. That mission, which they rightly understand within the story line of the whole Bible, is summarized in the Great Commission and involves gospel proclamation and disciple making. This superb book will encourage its readers ‘to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus’s commands now and in eternity, to the glory of God the Father.’”
Peter T. O'Brien, Retired Vice-Principal and Emeritus Faculty Member, Moore Theological College, Australia

“A very timely and eminently engaging book for all those who care deeply about the church’s mission in our day. Again and again, I found myself nodding in agreement as the authors made a key point from Scripture or noted the missional relevance of a given biblical passage. I highly recommend this book, not just as food for thought, but more importantly, as a call to obedient, biblically informed action.”
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Senior Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert have written an important book on an important topic. Fair, keenly observant, startlingly honest, this book is replete with careful exegetical work. Verses are not merely cited; they are considered in context. The length of an idea is considered, all the way from its expression in the local church back to its source in Scripture. The result is a book that is nuanced and clear, useful and enjoyable to read, and that is no small gift from two young pastor-theologians who have already become reliable voices. Open this book and you’ll want to open your Bible and open your mind on everything from justice to capitalism, from mercy to love.”
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“DeYoung and Gilbert clear the fog that has settled over the nature of the church’s mission. Their tone is gracious, the style is accessible, but most importantly this book is marked by fidelity to biblical revelation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The authors have succeeded in what they exhort us to do: they have kept the main thing as the main thing.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“DeYoung and Gilbert provide clarity to some of the most complex contemporary issues facing the church. Focusing us squarely on the redemptive nature of the gospel, they ultimately point us not only to the church’s mission, but to practical ways to understand and live it. The result is a book that will be of great help to pastors, missiologists, theologians, and practitioners.”
M. David Sills, Faye Stone Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology, Director of the Doctor of Missiology Program and Great Commission Ministries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Every generation is tempted to augment or diminish, even nuance or redefine the mission of the church. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert have provided a biblical corrective and protection for our generation in What is the Mission of the Church? With a gracious and kind spirit, this book reclaims the ecclesiastical concepts of mission, purpose, social justice, and the Great Commission from those who have redefined these words with a dictionary other than Scripture. Pastors should read this book with their elders, deacons, and leadership teams to wrestle with answers to the most pressing questions about the church in our day.”
Rick Holland, Senior Pastor, Mission Road Bible Church, Prairie Village, Kansas

About the Author

Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books such as Just Do Something and The Hole in Our Holiness, as well as the award-winning books Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church (with Ted Kluck).

Greg Gilbert (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of What Is the Gospel?, James: A 12-Week Study, and Who Is Jesus? (forthcoming), and is the co-author (with Kevin DeYoung) of What Is the Mission of the Church?.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This could have been a great book... November 15, 2012
I'm not sure whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars... The central thesis is true, but I found this book highly frustrating. I simply don't think it lives up to the praise given by those who endorsed it.

First, I should clarify that I listened to the audio version, so have not been able to read footnotes, of which there apparently are many.

That said, a few comments:

* I agree with the main thesis, that the mission of the church is first and foremost the Great Commission. I'm not sure whether I would limit it to only that however,--surely the mission of the church can have a wide angle as well as a zoom perspective, just as the authors note regarding the word "gospel" in Scripture. That said, it is very important to say that only in Christ can one enter the kingdom of God, find shalom, etc.
* There are many good observations about the Kingdom of God, the biblical use of the word "gospel," etc.
* The authors attempt some meaningful exegesis, sometimes helpfully.
* There is a good warning against expecting too much success in establishing shalom here and now, while still in the "not-yet" stage of redemption history.

* The text alone (minus the footnotes I couldn't hear) leaves one thinking that John Stott and especially Christoper Wright must be some evil liberal heretics. I didn't notice anything positive said about either man. Wright in particular gets picked on as an example of someone who is confused about the mission of the church. Someone who had never read him (as I have) would get the impression from this book that he believes things that I am sure he does not.
* On the other hand, Tim Keller is quoted positively several times. This is good (in my mind), but curious...
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and Biblical View of the Missional Church September 20, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a pastor for over twenty years you see a lot of fads come and go in the way churches seek to make an impact in our communities and culture. I have never met a pastor (worth his salt) who didn't want to be pleasing to God and make a difference for the sake of Christ in his community and culture. However, I have become more and more concerned as I see pastors watering down the message of the gospel; focusing more on programs than on the message of the gospel; and being influenced more by the culture, than influencing culture with the message of the Bible. Therefore, I wholeheartedly endorse and applaud this latest offering on the "mission" of the church because I think it is an excellent treatment of the relevant biblical passages and how they bear on the issues we are facing in the 21st century on what the mission/purpose of the church should be. It is missional and Biblical; truthful and loving without compromise; theologically profound and culturally relevant.

Without giving away the mission of the church as defined and defended in this book, I can say that DeYoung and Gilbert do a fantastic job of discussing issues like helping the poor, economics and social justice, the Kingdom, the gospel, and how a church can make an impact on the world without sacrificing the truth and absolutes.

The strengths of this book lie in its simplicity and clarity, exposition and insightful interpretation of the Scriptures, and it's very clear explanation and application of the gospel as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. I recommend this book especially for pastor's young and old, leadership teams of churches, missionaries, and Christians who want to know how they can be purposefully a part of the only organization of which the "gates of hell will not prevail.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical, Pastoral, Clear, Interesting, Relevant September 22, 2011
By H. Liu
DeYoung and Gilbert have given us a biblically sound, clearly presented, well researched, and relevantly desired book on the "Mission of the Church." There are three particular strengths that set this book apart from other books on this very topic of the Church's relation to mission, culture, and the world.

First, the points made in this book are built on Scripture explanation and Scripture application. The authors aim to clarify the misunderstanding and misapplication of various Scripture passages. For example, take the topic of Social Justice and the Poor; the authors aren't merely citing various passages of Scripture to make their point. Instead, they carefully take every commonly used passage of Scripture concerning Social Justice and the Poor, and proceed to explain each individual passage in its own context. At the conclusion of each chapter, the reader walks away with a better understanding of God's Word, rather than a fistful of arguments.

Second, this book is well researched. If you desire to read one book on the mission of the church, then DeYoung and Gilbert have read and consulted most if not all of the classic and recent books on this topic. Earlier this year I read a handful of books on the topic of Church and Culture. A few of the more helpful reads were: Tim Keller's Generous Justice, David VanDrunen's Living in God's Two Kingdoms, and James Davison Hunter's To Change the World. In this book, DeYoung and Gilbert pull from some of the key points made by Keller, VanDrunen, Hunter, as well as other authors. Therefore, if time is of essence, I would recommend reading just this one.

Thirdly, DeYoung and Gilbert wrote with a pastoral approach. This book did not read like an academic monograph.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An Incomplete Ecclesiology
This is an important book. I appreciate the authors' care and scholarship in making a clear argument for their main thesis that the mission of the church is the proclamation of the... Read more
Published 21 days ago by dr.keithcox
4.0 out of 5 stars got the mission right
I think authors apologize too much, but they got the mission right. Spends a lot of time addressing the nay sayers issues. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ray
5.0 out of 5 stars given and recommended it to every CHRISTian I meet
This is a book I think every CHRISTian should read. It is so important that I have both read and listened to it, as well as lent, given and recommended it to every CHRISTian I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by C. Walker Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book was a clear and Biblical look at the role of the church in the world.
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer M
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
As a young pastor I greatly benefited from this book. Many issues that I have wrestled with for a long time were addressed gracefully, thoroughly, and biblically. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Roy Layman
5.0 out of 5 stars relevant
This is book is needed. It is incredibly relevant. It is simple without being simplistic. A great read for pastor or layperson.
Published 6 months ago by Josh
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-balanced perspective on Social Justice and the Church.
Everything I've read by DeYoung is excellent, and this one no exception. Bought it for some clarification on the main subject as in the title, but received a great deal of benefit... Read more
Published 6 months ago by P. Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid Bible-based perspective
A solid Bible-based perspective.
Published 7 months ago by Lee DeYoung
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a great book on the mission of the church in particular as well as the other related issues that come up when talking about the mission of the church. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Steven
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!!!
This book was GREAT!!! It packs a lot into a little space, so it took me some time to thoughtfully read...but, it was well worth it!!! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Doug S.
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