Changing the Mind of Missions

Changing the Mind of Missions

Where Have We Gone Wrong?

by James F. Engel and William A. Dyrness

Changing the Mind of Missions
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Published: February 18, 2000
  •  Print on Demand
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-2239-3
  • Item Code: 2239
Print on Demand

The world has changed much since earlier Western missionaries set sail across the seas. And as a new millennium dawns, even greater global and cultural changes are overtaking us. Yet missions has remained much the same.

In Changing the Mind of Missions James F. Engle and William A. Dyrness offer a courageous analysis of the challenges facing North American and other Western Christian missions:

  • How can we work within a world context that is shifting from modernity to postmodernity?
  • How can we reverse our assumption that missions means going from "here" to "there"?
  • How can we recapture the vitality and comprehensiveness of the gospel for the complex plight of today's world?
  • How can we reexamine our commitments to programs and strategies in light of the baseline fact that we are engaged in God's mission?

Here is a book that is sure to spark conversation among missionaries, students of missions, mission leaders and church mission committees. It points a way forward with the goal of increasing the spread of the gospel by every means possible to every corner of our world.

"Engel and Dyrness give us a provocative and pregnant book. Fearlessly grappling with critical missions issues for the West, they have provoked us to evaluate the presuppositions of conventional missions as they are, as well as its reductionisms. They have judged our culture and our missions systems. But the book is pregnant with the pulse beat of new ideas and new life, pointing us to the journey ahead that will not be painless, but will ultimately rescue us from irrelevancy and/or disaster."

William D. Taylor, executive director, WEF Missions Commission

"Two images captured my attention in this book: local churches as thousands of points of light breaking a vast darkness, and the mustard seed mission of God taking root in Galilee and spreading by fishermen, farmers and tradesmen to the imperial center of Rome. Engel and Dyrness use these metaphors to help us diagnose the structural and ministry malaise of modernism in our churches and mission organizations. They then point us back to a Christ-centered and Holy Spirit-directed agenda for missions for the twenty-first century. For leaders committed to reuniting their churches with the mission of God, this book is a valuable resource for reflection, discussion, and practical suggestions for change."

Sherwood G. Lingenfelter, dean, School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary

"A prophetic and practical guide to reframing our churches and mission organizations for the new realities of global ministry in the twenty-first century. A 'must-read' for everyone interested and involved in contemporary world mission!"

Paul-Gordon Chandler, president/CEO, Partners International

"As a mission leader, I see daily evidence of the positive impact of missionaries around the world. Thus I'm stung by the subtitle "Where Have We Gone Wrong?" On the other hand, I'm also alarmed by the subtle and scandalous effect of modernity and Western management ideas on much that happens in missions. I affirm the authors' passion for the church to follow the lordship of Jesus Christ in her missionary methods. The diagnoses in this book are accurate, the recommendations are precisely right, and the tone is hopeful. I hope we'll all study this book slowly and reflectively, letting it perform the necessary therapy on our unconscious but unhealthy approaches to missions."

Jim Plueddemann, general director, SIM

"Few people are more qualified to grapple with the future of missions in our rapidly changing world than Jim Engel and Bill Dyrness. Engel is a researcher and strategic thinker with vast experience in consulting with missions worldwide. Dyrness is a missionary theologian with grass roots experience in missions coupled with a theological mind. This is a provocative and challenging book which all mission leaders should study carefully."

David M. Howard, former president, Latin America Mission


1. A Clouded Future?
2. Where in the World is Jerusalem?
3. What's Gone Wrong with the Harvest?
4. Missions in a Postmodern World: A Gracious Revolution
5. The Church in Missions
6. The Missions Agency: Time for a Renaissance
7. Missions in a Postmodern World: Will the Clouds Lift?

Engel is founder and president of Development Associates International and retired distinguished professor in the graduate programs at Eastern University, where he founded the Center for Organizational Excellence. He has ministered around the world as a consultant, trainer and leadership-development expert and is well known for his books and writings on world evangelization.
William A. Dyrness

William A. Dyrness (DTheol, University of Strasbourg; Doctorandus, Free University) is professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of many books, including Modern Art and the Life of a Culture (with Jonathan Anderson), Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship, Reformed Theology and Visual Culture, Changing the Mind of Missions (with James Engel), Theology Without Borders (with Oscar Garcia-Johnson), and was a general editor of the Global Dictionary of Theology.