|About the Book|
Paul Beals’ A People for His Name: A Church-Based Mission Strategy is a good guidebook for anyone who is seriously considering missions. The book is divided into 6 parts, the main part (Part 2 to 5) of it being practical considerations in the starting of mission works. The book starts and closes with theoretical investigations, with the first part seeking to answer a seeming dilemma posed by what is commonly known as the “double vocation-” and the last part working to paint the whole big picture of missions — the significance of the role of the Holy Spirit in missions and the urgency involved in light of Christ’s second coming.When it comes to the relation between the cultural and the redemptive mandate, we are often confused on how they are related. Beals expounds his position in four steps. He first defines missions and highlights George Peter’s view that only the redemptive mandate defines missions in the strict sense — missions is afterall, about evangelizing the unsaved, edifying the believers and establishing local churches. He then examines the cultural mandate by looking at how the cultural element in Paul’s ministry plays a crucial role in his missionary work — how Paul esteemed the role of culture and how he catered his teaching to people across all races and social groups. Lastly, he devotes two sections to discuss how missions is viewed in both the Old Testament and the New — his examination certainly echoes Augustine’s view that the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. At the end of this discussion, he concludes that the cultural mandate is crucial in missions — though he seems to see it in two ways — one, as a means to carry out its redemptive counterpart- and two, as a natural result of it.The main content of the book is straightforward. It is self-explanatory by simply looking at the table of contents. There is no need for a reader to go through the four parts —namely, the strategic role of the Home Church- of the Mission Agency- of the Missionary- and of the Theological School — in a chronological order. A reader who is interested in setting up a Bible College overseas, for example, can focus on part 5. However, for a student studying missions in general, all 4 parts add together to present the whole tapestry of mission works.The main chapters start with defining the church as the universal body of believers before elaborating on the role played by a local church (home church), emphasizing on the role of its leaders, and especially that of the pastor. It provides practical tips to leaders who are interested in setting up mission outreaches— how to enlist and select their missionaries. This is further followed by a guide on how to authorize, ordain and commission these workers, and thus empowering and equipping them for missions.To select, train and eventually send missionaries oversea is, however, not the only role the home church plays. Perhaps equally importantly, a home church should provide material and personal support to them. As such, on the one hand, the home church needs to work on its missions budget— of which the book offers useful tips on the principles and guideline on the budgeting procedure- and on the other, it needs to constantly pray, evaluate and encourage its missionaries.Still on the role of the home church, the book also provides guidelines on how to formulate a mission policy, which is essentially a succinct account of the church’s objectives and goals in mission works- as well as advice on how to form a missions committee, relating to the composition, qualification, general and specific duties of the committee members and its relationship to the church board. The book also offers suggestions on how to promote missions in the home church, identifying five main avenues — namely informational aids to increase awareness- inviting speakers who are experienced in the field, providing mission resources in the church library, planning mission conferences and organizing missionary groups.The third part of the book focuses on an important body — the mission agency — which bridges between the home church and the missionary, devoting individual sections to the investigation of its purpose, structure, resources, role, position and authority, principles and practices as well as its nature. Naturally, a substantial part of this discussion focuses on its function as the link between the home church and the missionary. To the church, the mission agency identifies potential personnel, handles public relations and oversees mission funds- whereas to the missionaries, it provides financial support, logistic aids and counsel as well as plays an evaluative role.On the part of the missionary, the book concentrates on two aspects, namely her accountability and responsibilities. To the church, the missionary’s role is to strategise, serve and support- whereas to the mission agencies, she needs to align to the mission policies, maintain good stewardship and provide regular updates. The responsibilities of the missionary is presented clearly in the diagram in page 169 — she oversees the personal and family welfare of the people under his charge- builds interpersonal relationships- enhances effective communication- facilitates biblical evangelism- plants church biblically and prepares leaders for succession. The book not only identifies these responsibilities, it also provides suggestions to how the missionary can carry them out effectively.The fifth part of the book focuses on mission work of a very specific nature, namely, the setting up of a theological school. From the roles of an administrator to the responsibilities of a faculty member and then to the duties of a student, the book provides clear biblical guidelines to what we should expect.After going through all the practical guidelines in the main body, the book returns to the context of missions. It devotes its concluding part to the most important, if not sole reason of sending missions —to spread the good news under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in earnest expectancy of Christ’s second return. It brings our focus back to a God-centered perspective. It is the Holy Spirit that provides the power in proclaiming the gospel, in perfecting of the saints and in the planting of churches- and that the need for missions is urgent for the return of Christ is imminent- and while He tarries and we wait, we should maintain a good testimony and serve Him in hope.The book also provides, as appendix, a sample of a policy statement- a simple subject and scripture index and a good bibliography of around a hundred books for readers interested to study and research further on missions.