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What is the Mission of the Church?: Making sense of social justice, Shalom and the Great Commission

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  937 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Addressing mission, evangelism and social justice, two pastors draw readers to the Bible's teaching on some contentious matters. 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. ...more
Audiobook, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published September 30th 2011 by christianaudio (first published September 2011)
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Sep 19, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church-ministry
Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert are both pastors. They preach on a weekly basis in towns with universities and passionate young people who don’t want to waste their life but want to be on mission. And there’s the elusive word: mission. Slick like water in our hands, the word gives way to countless definitions and usages, agendas and abuses, leaving many Christians and churches confused about their mission. Answering the question of what the church ought to be doing is controversial. Enter DeYoung ...more
Bryan Neuschwander
Mar 14, 2014 Bryan Neuschwander rated it did not like it
I wanted to like it, alas. I tried.

The book reminded of this wonderful, troubling short story Jesus once told about a homeless hitchhiker who was walking along the road, was waylaid by robbers and left for dead on the gravel shoulder.

A Reformed Christian pastor happened by and decided to write an theologically correct exegesis of what the Old and New Testament had to say about his predicament. Soon another pastor, Baptist this time, passed by, and, seeing the disarray of social injustice, the
Heather Tomlinson

There is a lot I could say about this book. In lots of ways, I would feel sympathetic to some of their aims: being faithful to scripture, encouraging evangelism, being sufficiently sceptical about what kinds of social justice to get involved in.

However, this book criticises the work of people such as John Stott and Chris Wright - ie those proposing integral mission - to propose that the church's priority should be the Great Commission. In their understanding, that's just preaching and making dis
David Varney
Sep 28, 2012 David Varney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hearty 5 stars from me. I guzzled this one up! As one recommendation from the back cover puts it, 'the kind of biblical sanity we need at this moment.' He is right. Clearly lays out a biblical case for the mission of the church, cutting through a lot of waffle in the process. Lucid, chastising at points, and greatly clarifying, I warmly recommend this book to any church leader.
Cho Yim
Oct 30, 2014 Cho Yim rated it really liked it
Good book that makes very good arguments that the Great Commission is the mission of the church. Tackles the modern day trend to make the church's mission "social justice" or "good works" or "transform society," etc. The church's role is not to bring change from the outside, but to bring change from the inside. The chapter on social justice is probably one of the best cases I have read on why it is not the mission of the church (though a good thing and an individual call all Christians have). Th ...more
Brian Collins
Sep 28, 2011 Brian Collins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DeYoung and Gilbert argue that the mission of the church is the Great Commission: "the mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering those disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father" (p. 241). Much of the book provides helpful responses to those who extend the mission of the church so broadly that the core of the Great ...more
Feb 02, 2012 David rated it liked it
This one was hard for me. The reason they wrote the book was unclear during most of my reading of it. The point was to emphasize the church's responsibility to spread the good news and to disciple new members. And the authors kept emphasizing that this was instead of helping the poor. I have done some writing calling for balance and emphasizing the need to help the poor, so I was a little put off by the repeated calls for the church not to do that. The trick here is that they see the church as d ...more
Nov 28, 2012 Mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: ecclesiology
The main point of this book is to address what exactly is and (more importantly) what is not the mission of the church. They are concerned that evangelicals are getting too swept up in fighting poverty and social injustice and have forgotten our mission is discipleship. I think I understand their heart to make sure we keep the proclamation of the gospel the main thing in the church and not making social justice or helping the poor our primary calling. This is the strength of the book - word mini ...more
Justin Lonas
May 14, 2012 Justin Lonas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Among evangelical Christians these days, there is a groundswell movement toward cultural transformation—not simply to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ but to do the work of renewing communities and creation as a whole to make ready for the new heavens and the new earth. This philosophy goes by several names with different shades of meaning: social justice, kingdom building, missional ministry, shalom, etc.

Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert have written What Is the Mission of the Church? to
Mar 09, 2012 Kent rated it it was ok
I had difficulty with this book, from the cover on. The title, "What Is The Mission Of The Church?" suggests that God's Church is assigned a singular "mission." From my perspective, when a question is written ineffectively, the answers will be ineffective too. From the beginning of the book it is clear to me that the authors want, in fact, they need the Church to have, rather than a dynamic presence and ministry, a singular and linear mission.

It seems to me that the authors draw bold, solid line
David Rathel
Feb 09, 2012 David Rathel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though this book has generated much controversy, I personally found it to be excellent. In fact, I cannot recommend it any higher!

When reviewing this book, one must remember what DeYoung and Gilbert are writing against, namely, the more radical elements of the missional church movement. Some missional church proponents "flatten" the church's mission by trying to make every good activity (creation care, social work, etc.) an essential part of the church's work. While DeYoung and Gilbert argue th
Anthony Alvarado
Sep 28, 2011 Anthony Alvarado rated it it was amazing
This is a needed and worthwhile read; a must read. What is the mission of the church? To make disciples of all the nations. You will be utterly convinced that it's as simple as that after reading this book. Good works, social justice, blessing the city, and bringing "shalom" do not mean anything if the gospel is not shared, disciples grown, and eternity impacted.

"The danger is real. If we do not share the gospel - with words! - the story will not be told."

"Since hell is real, we must help each
Eric Durso
Oct 29, 2015 Eric Durso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church, missions, 2015
Really good. Great writing, highly accessible, and on point. Loved it.
Jeffrey Brannen
Jan 02, 2016 Jeffrey Brannen rated it really liked it
Modern evangelicalism is in a crisis regarding the mission of the church. On one hand are those who are "missiological" in their desire to bring about human flourishing and shalom. Others find any mention of the social justice as just warmed over social gospel preaching.

DeYoung and Gilbert attempt to cut the Gordian Knot by defining terms and exegeting commonly used Scripture texts.

First, what is the gospel? They answer that it is the proclamation of forgiveness of sins by the sacrificial aton
Aug 05, 2015 Dan rated it it was amazing
I recently had opportunity to read a book that I found very helpful. As our family has been concentrating much on mercy and justice lately, I wanted to keep grounded in the Gospel and What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert was a great read to reconfirm the centrality of the Good News.

I would suggest this book for all of us endeavoring to practice holistic ministry and could see great usefulness for tho
Seth Thomas
Jul 21, 2015 Seth Thomas rated it liked it
Overall, I thought that Kevin's book was extremely thorough and well-researched. Unfortunately, I think that the tone of his book falls short of the analysis I expect or hope for. Admittedly, I listened to the audio-book, and the reading (listening) was quite difficult because of the substantial footnotes and references. I think Kevin was most clearly writing to church leadership that is considering how to balance the limited resources given to churches. To this end, he adequately explains that ...more
Bendick Ong
Nov 19, 2014 Bendick Ong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Does a christian have a role to play in improving the condition of the world? This is by far the best book i’ve read written in response to perhaps the christian re-constructionists. It is worth using our time to follow the persuasive arguments presented by the authors as they explore the meaning of concepts like “kingdom of God”, “christian generosity” vs christian obligations, christian partial love, “shalom” and the new heaven and new earth, which of course eventually links us up to the great ...more
Donald Stevenson
Jul 12, 2016 Donald Stevenson rated it really liked it
This book is a must read! It does a fantastic job of thinking through the issues of who we are to be as local churches and helps work through the issues of what is important and what is good but not necessarily what we all must be doing. The opening chapters that open up the priority of Great Commission imperatives on the church and who we are are very helpful in an age when there is much made of the social issues that the world faces. Personally I see this so much in my involvement in internati ...more
Mar 17, 2014 David rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. It explains the arguments cogently. I think DeYoung and Sills explain the social justice push among younger Evangelicals well. The book is very good about articulating what the true mission of the Church is, namely: Go into all the world making disciples of Christ. This is a mission which only the Church can fulfill.

Unfortunately, as with many DeYoung works, his purpose is pretty clearly to critique the social justice movement and aspects of the Evangelical Left which want t
Rick Dugan
This book would have been stronger if they'd focussed on the positive - the primacy of the Great Commission to disciple the nations - and less on the negative - the distorted views of the kingdom, shalom, and social justice in the contemporary church. While I agreed with much of their argument and found brilliant their defense of the Great Commission as *the* mission of the church, the constant (qualified) attack against a focus on caring for the poor and fighting injustice came across as argume ...more
Emma Grace
I was assigned this book to read over the summer for school. The delving into scripture was nice, but the length could have been considerably shorter and come to the same answer.
Missions exists because people aren't worshipping God. Bam.
A good way to minister the Gospel to people is though living lives similar to Jesus (not exactly). Bam.
The purpose of the Church is to tell other people about Jesus and the joy one receives living life in Him. Bam.
Prioritism over holism. Bam.
A question I'll mos
Dec 05, 2015 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a good pushback against some of the church "mission creep" that seems to be happening recently--save the planet, house refugees, protect turtles, pave roads, etc. etc. etc. Gilbert and DeYoung remind us that the church does not expand the kingdom of God in that way. The only way to do that is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Thankfully our Lord had something to say about that--Great Commission, anyone?

Those who attend churches that talk a lot about being "missional" and "spreading
Calvin Sun
Feb 20, 2014 Calvin Sun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
At a time when the church feels like it needs to catch up to the trend of social justice, DeYoung & Gibert cut through the pitfalls and grounds the mission of the church back to the word. Great research, sound exegesis, and empowering applications that frees Christians to reach those we are called to instead of chastising ourselves into guilt and submissions. This book is much needed for a generation such as ourselves who often unknowingly confuse responsibilities with opportunities and end ...more
Clayton Hutchins
Mar 31, 2016 Clayton Hutchins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecclesiology
Re-read it for school. DeYoung and Gilbert argue that the mission of the church is, simply, the Great Commission described in Matt 28:18–20. They critique views which place "social justice" or serving the poor or transforming the city in the definition of the church's mission. While Christians should do all sorts of good works—including works of generosity toward the impoverished—the church's mission is not to serve the poor, but to make disciples of Jesus. Like I said, their message is worth he ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-living
Been too long since I read this to give a thorough explanation, which seems odd since I'm giving it five stars. Really enjoyed it when I did read it. From my memory, I remember it being a nice counter-balance - or, rather, complement - to books like Radical (Platt) or Crazy Love (Chan). A good reminder that the church must be well-balanced and biblical in its work for God's glory. There are many things that the church should do that are not in and of themselves gospel. They still must be done, b ...more
Jeremiah von Kühn
Jul 06, 2015 Jeremiah von Kühn rated it really liked it
Please read, especially if you're under 30, consider yourself an American evangelical and are big on social justice.
Kyle Houlton
Feb 06, 2015 Kyle Houlton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a useful resource for the pastor or "mission-minded" individual who wants help in understanding how to rightly navigate his way to faithfully responding the great commission in the midst of a church-culture that cries out for "missional living", but rarely brings definition to what that is. Both Gilbert and Deyoung are very careful so as not to poo-poo the whole missional movement, but instead aim at applying an accurate hermeneutic to outreach and evangelism such that the effect is ...more
Ryan Linkous
I previously wrote a review for this book which disappeared, so my review and critique will be brief:

1. Need to bring up more discussion between mission and ethics. The Great Commission is not the only thing the church should be doing until Jesus returns, however I agree it is central to the church's purpose and mission, especially when considering the church's relationship to eschatology.

2. I'm sympathetic to the argument that social justice is something individual church members should take up
Nov 03, 2012 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In an age where many pockets of the evangelical church are flagellating themselves (sometimes, admittedly, for good reason) over "not doing enough for the world", and are even going so far as to swing to the extreme-opposite end of the pendulum by suggesting that "mission-by-deed" should precede and take priority over "mission-by-word" until a proper balance is somehow struck again (yet how would anyone truly know?), this book has come along to clear away the fog of much resulting confusion. DeY ...more
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Kevin DeYoung is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, right across the street from Michigan State University.
More about Kevin DeYoung...

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“Here's the problem: when every sin is seen as the same, we are less likely to fight any sins at all. Why should I stop sleeping with my girlfriend when there will still be lust in my heart? Why pursue holiness when even one sin in my life means I'm Osama bin Hitler in God's eyes? Again, it seems humble to act as if no sin is worse than another, but we lose the impetus for striving and the ability to hold each other accountable when we tumble down the slip-n-slide of moral equivalence. All of a sudden the elder who battles the temptation to take a second look at the racy section of the Lands End catalog shouldn't dare exercise church discipline ont he young man fornicating with reckless abandon. When we can no longer see the different gradations among sins and sinners and sinful nations, we have not succeeded in respecting our own badness; we've cheapened God's goodness.” 6 likes
“Justice in a fallen world is not equality of outcome but equal treatment under a fair law.” 5 likes
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