We recently chatted with John Mark Terry, editor of Missiology: An Introduction, Second Edition (2015). In this interview we learn about some of the changes in missions that necessitated this new edition, the need for missions-minded pastors, and how missions belongs to all of God’s people.
(1) In the Preface you write, “The canon of Scripture does not change, but missions changes every day,” hence the need for an updated edition of Missiology, which first appeared in 1997. From your perspective as a missiologist, what have some of the major changes been and how have they affected how we should engage in the Great Commission?
Each morning’s newspaper brings news of events around the world. These events affect international missions in many ways. A coup in an African nation may mean that missionaries will be expelled. A tsunami in Asia may open doors of opportunity for the gospel through disaster relief ministry. So, missions changes daily. In recent years we’ve seen several significant changes. Missions has become internationalized. In the past western missionaries went “overseas” to carry the gospel. Now, we see thousands of missionaries from nations like Korea, the Philippines, and Brazil carrying the good news of salvation in Christ to the world. Another big change is “business as mission.” Changing situations and changing methods call for an up to date book.
(2) In what ways do you hope this new edition of Missiology will equip a new generation of pastors, missionaries, and laypeople for reaching the nations for Christ?
This book represents a broad spectrum study of missions. The authors have written chapters on the definition of missiology, the biblical and theological basis for missions, the history of missions, world religions, missionary anthropology, missions strategy, and local church missions. You could say this book is like a missions library. The late Dr. Ralph Winter once wrote that the greatest need in missions was for missions-minded pastors. He meant that if we have missions-minded pastors, we shall have adequate prayer, giving, and missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission. I hope the students who read this book will become missions-minded pastors. I hope this book will whet the appetite of missionaries in training to delve deeper into the topics introduced in the book.
(3) When talking with others about missions, what two or three things do you wish people approached or thought differently? And in what ways do you sense Missiology offers that emphasis or corrective?
Folks often say, “People are the same all over the world.” That is not true. People around the world are profoundly different in their many languages, cultures, religions, and worldviews. This book helps the reader learn to look at the peoples of the world from these different perspectives. This information is essential for effective evangelization. Another thing that troubles me is that many Christians see missions as the task of mission agencies and missionaries. Of course, it is in part; but, ultimately, Jesus gave the Great Commission to the Church. This book will help its readers discover God’s mission for the Church.
Editors’ note: John Mark Terry is editor of Missiology: An Introduction (2nd ed., 2015). Terry serves as professor of Missions at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He served with the International Mission Board for twenty-four years in Southeast Asia.
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