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A Public Missiology

How Local Churches Witness to a Complex World

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How can Christians witness to the complexity of our world? Gregg Okesson demonstrates that local congregations are the primary means of public witness in and for the world. Okesson calls Christians to weave gospel influence as they move back and forth between their local churches and their neighborhoods, workplaces, and other public spaces.

This introduction to public missiology helps Christians thicken their witness in the public realms where they live, work, and play. A Public Missiology engages issues relevant to ministry leaders, both domestic and abroad, and provides real-life "embodied" examples from around the world to help readers envision approaches to public witness and social change.

This topic is on the cutting edge of discussions among missiologists and professors of mission, making it a valuable resource for students of mission, evangelism, and church life as well as pastors, church leaders, and missionaries.


Part 1: Public Witness
1. Why Congregational Witness?
2. What Publics? Where Publics?
3. The Missio Dei--a Thick, Public Story
4. What Is Public Missiology?
5. Thick Congregational Witness
Part 2: Congregations and Public Witness
6. How to Study Congregations
7. Thick Doxology and Witness to Land--Africa Brotherhood Church, Machakos Kenya
8. Thick Place and Witness to Montreal--St. Jax Anglican Church, Montreal
9. Thick Identity and Witness to All Nations--Bethel World Outreach Church, Nashville
Conclusion: How Local Churches Witness in a Complex World
Appendix Public Missiology: A Brief Introduction by the Public Missiology Working Group


"Drawing on rich personal experience, illuminating case studies, and several academic disciplines, Gregg Okesson paints a vibrant picture of how congregations can offer public witness to Christian faith and life in ways that are compelling, beautiful, and substantive. In a book that is richly theological and missiological, he challenges churches to embrace a gospel that is sufficiently comprehensive to speak into our complex world. Writing in a way that is accessible but also packed with insight, Okesson has produced a book that is deeply engaging and very important. I highly recommend it!"

Christine D. Pohl, professor of Christian ethics, emeritus, Asbury Theological Seminary

"In this book Gregg Okesson provides a bold signal that a new movement in mission thinking is underway. Public missiology means that the identity, practices, and witness of the church cannot remain the same once we have recognized how fundamentally the gospel of Jesus Christ is a fully public announcement. Okesson combines a keen sense of the public life of ordinary people, a rootedness in the best traditions of mission theory and practice, and a deep commitment to the local congregation as the community of witness to the purposes of God. This book speaks to what ails us and welcomes us to a powerful new journey."

George Hunsberger, professor emeritus of missiology, Western Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Gregg Okesson

    Gregg Okesson

    Gregg Okesson (PhD, University of Leeds) is dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and the Ira Gallaway and D. M. Beeson Professor of Leadership Development, Mission,...

    Continue reading about Gregg Okesson


Christianity Today 2021 Book Award Winner (Missions/Global Church)
Outreach 2021 Resource of the Year (Cross-Cultural and Missional)
2020 ASM (American Society of Missiology) Book of the Year Award
One of Ten Outstanding Books in Mission Studies, Intercultural Theology, and World Christianity for 2020

"In our current era of pat answers and tweeted solutions to complex challenges, believers and local congregations need clear guidance on understanding their communities and being salt and light within them. A Public Missiology provides this abundantly. Drawing on a diverse set of cultural examples, Gregg Okesson walks readers through this process without losing sight of the critical role of individual conversion, thus defusing the most common critique against pastors and laypeople who want to influence their surrounding societies. This book inspired me, encouraged me, and supplied many moments of deep reflection. I highly recommend it to professors, college students, pastors, lay leaders, and a variety of ministry and NGO practitioners."

Mary Lederleitner,

Christianity Today