Global Mission Handbook: A Review

by Jim on 26 February 2010

in Uncategorized

"I’m thinking about becoming a missionary.  How do I begin?"

I get this question a lot.  One of the best resources that I point people to is the blog carnival we had a while back – Advice for Aspiring Missionaries.  Our missionary bloggers provided a lot of wise advice.

Of course, there are other people and resources I point people to, based on their specific situation.

But another resource I’ve mentioned many times was the book Send Me: Your Journey to the Nations by Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor.

So I was delighted when Adrianna from InterVarsity Press contacted me to let me know there was a new edition out.  It’s called Global Mission Handbook: A Guide for Crosscultural Service.  Adrianna was kind enough to send me a copy to check out.  The authors – in reality authors/editors – were again Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor.

I say editors because in reality this book has contributors from all over the world.  Missionaries from everywhere to everywhere.  Which makes this book a rich variety of perspectives and ideas.

But let’s back up a little bit.  Just what is this book?

Essentially, it’s a guide and workbook, packed with practical ideas, resources, blanks to fill in, charts, and stories.  It’s directed toward both missionaries and aspiring missionaries, though mainly those early in their career.

What do I like about Global Mission Handbook?

I like the breadth of wisdom from so many who have gone before.  I already mentioned that.

I also like how the authors have made the book practical.  This isn’t just a book of mission theory.  It’s a workbook.  Fill in this chart, fill in the blanks to mark your progress, here’s something you can do, here’s something you can check out.

Here’s where you can develop your "Four Support Systems".  Fill in these blanks to create a "Personal Calling Statement".  Fill this in to find out your profile as a "Crosscultural Servant".

I love the breadth of topics covered.  Just listen to some of these titles:

  • Evaluating Your Readiness with Real-Life Case Studies
  • Short-Term Missions as Spiritual Exercise
  • How to Choose a Sending Church or Agency
  • What About the Poor?
  • Your Professional Skills Can Have Kingdom Impact
  • Living with the Darkness in Our Past
  • Practical Ways to Give Roots to Missionary Kids
  • Six Characteristics of Leaders Who Finish Well

And that’s only a hint of the many, many topics in this book.  Scattered throughout are personal stories of others who have made the journey, perspectives from mission leaders around the world, and resources for going to the next step.

I like how this book addresses current mission realities, and looks at trends.  The authors seem to be always looking ahead at the next challenge, and the next generation.

And yet, all of this is done without ignoring the wisdom of the past.  And more importantly, while focusing on the Lord as the director of world missions.

What do I not like about Global Mission Handbook?

These may be more "user errors" than anything else, but a couple of words of caution.  First, I was disappointed in the limited use of Scripture in this book.  Of course, in a way this book is the "question" and the Bible is the "answer".  The authors certainly don’t want to answer every question for you – they want to get you thinking, and questioning the right things.

So I would caution anyone reading this book – go back to the Bible first for your answers.  The advice and resources are great, but they need to be used with a solid foundation from God’s Word.

The second caution is like the first.  You could get the impression from this book that you can customize and personalize your experience.  You fill out the questionnaires and out will pop the best plan for you – only 7 easy steps.

Of course, missions isn’t that way.  We are a community, and "my way" is often not what goes.  Things take longer than my original 3 month – 6 month plan.

Most importantly, missions is not a lone wolf affair.  It grows out of the local church.

It’s obvious from the book that the authors would strongly agree with me – even be shocked I would bring it up.  This second point in particular may not so much be a fault with the book, but with us.

The only other thing I’ll mention is that this is a big book (by some standards).  303 large pages including appendices, with lots of text and few pictures.  But much of it is in small, bite-sized chunks.  It can be opened up, and a page or two read.  The reason it’s big is that it’s packed with so much practical information.


In the end, I would recommend this book especially to those interested in missions (short term or long term), and those in the early to mid part of their career.  The book covers such a wide variety of approaches, most people could find something of use.  Including:

  • Singles on the field
  • Those working with the poor
  • Those wanting to use professional skills on the field (engineers, doctors, artists, etc)
  • Those just thinking about missions
  • Business as Mission
  • Those raising funds for a project or assignment

… and many more.

If you’re a missionary, or thinking about missions, I encourage you to get this book.  It’s not expensive, and it’s something you’ll refer back to again and again as you work through various issues before the field, on it, and even afterwards.  It’s like sitting down for coffee with a small crowd of your favourite missionaries, and asking their advice.  Check it out!

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