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Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission Paperback – October 27, 2012
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"For a fairly slim volume, this book has a wide scope, a hallmark of InterVarsity Press. In its target of a university-aged audience, it tends toward both the academic and practical. Its versatility includes grounding in scripture, technical definition of terms without being encyclopedic, spiritual depth, historical breadth, relevant present-day stories, sound statistics, and the book's applicability." (Allen Yeh, Religious Studies Review, Volume 39, No. 3, September 2013)
"Payne's book is an important and much-needed clarion call for evangelicals first to see the opportunity for missions that the Lord has sovereignly brought to our doorstep and second to engage these unreached people groups among us with a thoughtful, long-term strategy." (John Wind, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 17.1, 2013)
"Strangers Next Door is a much-needed book that provides detailed analysis of migratory patterns around the world and challenges churches to embrace migration as part of God's redemptive purposes. It is a useful tool in equipping churches to be more effective in missions right in their own community." (Jenny Yang, Evangelical Missions Quarterly, July 2013)
"With this work J. D. Payne effectively reminds us that 'the world' can sometimes be right on our doorsteps. . . . I highly recommend this book to church leaders and individuals who are keen to think through the implications of being Christ's witnesses in our multi-cultural society." (Vox Reformata, 2013)
"Written in a popular and accessible style, Payne passionately argues that human mobility and migration are inextricably linked with God's divine purposes." (Matthew Krabill, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 37, No. 2)
"Payne's work is informative and compelling, presenting fascinating data and inspiring anecdotes. Furthermore, it offers practical strategies for local churches seeking to reach the 'stranger next door.'" (Church Libraries, Winter 2012–2013)
"With its case studies and practical guidelines for reaching migrants, pastors and lay leaders will find Strangers Next Door to be a clear and useful resource in building a global missions strategy. . . . Payne does readers a service by bracketing the U.S. immigration debate and refocusing attention on the unique opportunity migrants present for the missions world." (Jeff Haanen, Christianity Today, October 2012)
"The world has not only shrunk; it has become energetic and mobile. It might be a tad clichéd to say it, but the world is now on our doorstep, which requires us to take the gospel seriously and devise a mission strategy to reach, train, partner and resource our global neighbors as they return to their homes with the gospel. J. D. Payne has presented us with the gospel imperative to take responsibility for those from all over the world who are among us. Some books impress you with their fresh insight, while others hit you with a clear and compelling statement of the obvious. This book does the latter, and it does it very well indeed." (Steve Timmis, Director for Acts 29 Western Europe)
"Many in our society―and even within our churches―see immigration as a threat or an invasion, but J. D. Payne challenges us to see immigration as Scripture does: as a missional opportunity. Many immigrants bring a vibrant faith with them to their new country, breathing new life into local churches, but others do not yet know the hope of a transformational relationship with Jesus. If we have the eyes to see it, immigration presents an opportunity to 'make disciples of all nations' without even leaving our zip codes, and Strangers Next Door serves as an informative and practical guide." (Matthew Soerens, U.S. church training specialist at World Relief and coauthor of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate)
"Strangers Next Door is a candid admission that a strategic frontier of world missions in the 21st century has returned to the home front. This book will charm readers with heart-rending anecdotes, relevant surveys and the author's insightful analysis of the realities in the changing landscape of missions within the borders of the Western world. This is perhaps J. D. Payne's most fascinating, coherent and convincing work on diaspora missiology to date!" (Tereso C. Casiño, professor of missiology and intercultural studies, School of Divinity, Gardner-Webb University, and executive chair, North America Diaspora Educators Forum (Global Diaspora Network))
About the Author
J. D. Payne (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a writer, speaker, church planter and currently serves as the pastor of church multiplication with The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He previously served with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and as an associate professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he directed the Center for North American Missions and Church Planting. J. D. has written extensively in the areas of missions, evangelism and church growth and he speaks frequently for churches, networks, conferences and mission agencies. He is the author of books such as Missional House Churches, The Barnabas Factors, Discovering Church Planting, Strangers Next Door, Kingdom Expressions and Pressure Points. In addition to these works, he and Mark Terry coauthored Developing a Strategy for Missions and he coedited Missionary Methods with Craig Ott. J. D. has pastored five churches in Kentucky and Indiana and has worked with four church planting teams. He formerly served as the executive vice president for administration for the Evangelical Missiological Society and as the book review editor for the Great Commission Research Journal. He and his wife Sarah and their three children live in Birmingham, Alabama.
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The book provides a thorough overview of people on the move in the Old and New Testaments, and creates for readers a clear Scriptural lens through which to see these people movements in our generation. This was very encouraging for me, creating a much stronger link between the accounts of "people on the move" in the Bible--and "people on the move" in our world, in our own communities.
Payne's overview of the demographic changes of many nations--demonstrated through well-researched and documented statistical evidence--is proof of the dramatic changes which are creating culture clashes in cities all over the western world. His primary readers are North Americans, so the additional information he provides about the USA and Canada is valuable and eye-opening.
The challenge to Christians engaged in God's purpose to bless the peoples of the world--is nuanced and multifaceted. He recommends a strategy called R.E.P.S.--Reach, Equip, Partner, and Send. Payne cautions against enfolding new "migrant" believers among various ethnicities into Western-style churches; rather, he challenges us with a vision to reach them, to plant churches among their natural relational networks, and then to partner with them in sending and empowering new ethnic believers back to their homelands as national missionaries to their own people. Payne wisely recommends church growth methods which are simple and reproducible without western systems and programs.
If Payne does an updated edition, I would recommend that he expand on the need for contextualization, and include practical next steps. For me, the main tenor of the book is that ordinary pastors and followers of Jesus Christ need to engage with their new ethnic neighbors and share the Gospel with them--with a vision for reaching the nations. So I believe that emphasizing the need for gaining new relationship skills, developing cultural intelligence, and learning how to communicate the gospel in a culturally relevant way would make this book more useful.
What the book comprises is an outstanding introduction to the subject of "diaspora missiology". I sincerely hope that thousands of Christian leaders will read this book and put their arms around the compelling ministry opportunities of our ever-increasingly diverse communities. This is a most timely and excellent book for all missional Christians concerned about living faithfully in today's world of increasing diversity and "peoples on the move."
Diaspora Missiology is the emerging and exponentially growing field that brings migration research into conversation with mission. Strangers Next Door is a concise and accessible introduction to the field. It is compiled by J D Payne, a seminary professor, author and pastor who currently serves as pastor of Church Multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.
The book offers biblical perspectives on migration and especially the conviction that God is orchestrating a movement of peoples across the world to advance the Kingdom of God. For any church wanting to ‘advance the Kingdom’, being aware of and strategic about people from less reached cultures coming to us is basic. Payne comments: ‘Something is missiologically malignant when we are willing to send people across the oceans, risking life and limb and spending enormous amounts of money, but we are not willing to walk next door and minister to the strangers living there.’ (p.33) The God of mission is organising for the church in the West to engage in global mission on their doorstep, without relocating. This does not remove the need for missionaries to other countries, but it is an important parallel strategy in discipling all nations.
Another contribution of the book is a description of the scope of migration. Payne detailed how Australia has among the highest international migrants per capita. Australia welcomes a huge and growing number of international students, up to 464,955 students with visas arrived 2010-2011, especially from China, India, Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia. These are figures our church wants to pay attention to; situated next to a university with a growing number of international students. We also need to consider the 21,805 refugees and 3,706 pending cases of asylum seekers (2010 figures). Moreover, a relevant statistic Payne did not write about, is that in 2001-2011 Australian Baptists grew by 43,000 people, but 98% of this growth was from migration! Our Australian Baptist churches desperately need to welcome and invite the contribution of migrants and their cultural diversity. But Payne offers statistics and stories from all around the Western world helpful for churches also in North America and Europe.
Finally, there are inspiring stories and advice on how to reach and send migrants with the gospel. The Western church needs practical advice for offering hospitality to students and migrants who are often lonely, isolated and vulnerable, and open to discussing the gospel. But we also need principles, once they meet Christ, to train and commission them for mission to and beyond their cultural group. As explored in Lausanne’s Capetown 2010 consultations, Payne advocates a multi-dimensional approach to mission; from and to all nations rather than from the West to the rest. Moreover, we need mission ‘to’ diaspora people who come to us, ‘through’ them as we send them back to their home countries, and ‘beyond’ them as we encourage them to engage in cross-cultural mission. In God’s economy, migrants can often reach and connect with other cultures that Anglo Westerners are less able to, thus functioning as ‘bridge peoples’. Payne has an optimistic view of the mission potential of migrants, refugees and students and uses the acronym REPS to explore how to Reach, Equip, Partner and Send. He counsels starting with the vision that you will reach and then send people back to their home country rather than aim to assimilate them, and that when they go you can go with them and use their social networks to start organic churches.
People moving across the globe are among some of the world’s unreached and least reached peoples. Payne liberally uses Unreached People Group (UPG) language, which assumes an idealised view of culture and arguably a pre-globalised era. New anthropological insights, as Michael Rynkiewich elsewhere explains, are recognising that people are not neatly dividable into ethnic cultural groups and that cultural identity and diversity are much more complex, and exacerbated by migration and urbanisation. Nevertheless, the point remains that some of the world’s people who have least access to the gospel are now moving as strangers next door to Christians in the West, and it is appropriate to echo Payne’s prayer: ‘May the strangers next door that you meet this morning become your brothers and sisters in the Lord this afternoon and go to the nations later this evening.’ (p.24)
Strangers Next Door, more than anything I have read, convinced me of the need for prioritising intentional outreach to students and newcomers in my neighborhoood, and the need for further research and sharing ideas on diaspora missiology among the broader Australian and global church.
A shorter version of this review was originally published in Mission Studies 31 (2014), 467-468.