Book Review: Contextualization in World Missions by A. Scott Moreau

If you are looking for a text book that consolidates research on World Missions and the variety of approaches that have been attempted in recent years with all the pluses and minuses, then you will enjoy Contextualization in World Missions by A. Scott Moreau.

I was looking for a book that looked at the issues of contextualization in a way that I could learn from world mission to apply to my local congregation and was disappointed.

If I were a student I would appreciate the chapter highlights and outline at the beginning and term definitions, questions and resources at the end. Moreau also puts a great emphasis contrasting the work of Charles Kraft (who I have heard of, but not read) and others (who I had neither heard of nor read).

My impression in the first section was he was laying a foundation by sifting through a mountain of research, and I had high hopes for the second section and the 6 initiators he mentions of: Facilitator, Guide, Herald, Pathfinder, Prophet, Restorer. If written for a local congregation, more development of these ideas and less contrasting research ideas would have been a powerful contribution. Yet the specific development of each role besides contrasting research was limited. Good for academics I guess but not for me.

Again the book is intended for  mission classes and the role of mapping. The book is written for that audience. I had hoped academic work would be more friendly to those like me who deal with our own issues of contextualization. In an American society that continues to move farther from the Gospel, it would have been nice to have some specific application for what has become one of the largest mission fields in the world — America.

In addition from my limited experience on the mission field, I did not appreciate what I perceived the view of chapter 5 that indigenous work was against contextualization.  Or that that only story I remember from the book about short term mission trips was a negative one. Though I found the stories sprinkled through out the book as a positive for asking questions, the answers for me got lost in quoting this expert and study, and then that expert and study.

I give the book 3 out of 5 stars recognizing that my score of 3 is based on my own reading agenda, and not the book’s future use in classrooms which will perhaps lead others to a higher rating. Students will love the book’s organizational structure for a quick review before testing, and professors will love the dearth of information and research included as well as the presentation slides in PowerPoint that the back cover says are available. Regrettably for me I was looking for a book that would take the subject of contextualization in ways that can not only be communicated in terms that all can understand but in the specific application to congregational life for those who want to lead their congregations and themselves to making a greater impact. You can check out an excerpt of the book by clicking here.

My thanks to Kregel Publishers for a free copy for an unbiased review.


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