The Mission of the Church

Five Views in Conversation

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Leading Voices from across Christian Traditions Discuss the Mission of the Church

What is the mission of the church? Every seminarian and church leader must wrestle with that question. No matter what designation a church uses to describe itself, it must also think critically about why it exists and what it should be doing. In this book, five leading voices representing a range of Christian traditions engage in an enlightening conversation as they present and compare their perspectives on the mission of the church. Each contributor offers his or her view and responds to the other four views. Contributors include Stephen B. Bevans, Darrell L. Guder, Ruth Padilla DeBorst, Edward Rommen, and Ed Stetzer. The book's format is ideal for classroom use and will also benefit pastors and church leaders.


Introduction, Craig Ott
Perspective Chapters
1. A Prophetic Dialogue Approach, Stephen B. Bevans
2. A Multicultural and Translational Approach, Darrell L. Guder
3. An Integral Transformation Approach, Ruth Padilla DeBorst
4. A Sacramental Vision Approach, Edward Rommen
5. An Evangelical Kingdom Community Approach, Ed Stetzer
Response Chapters
6. Response by Stephen B. Bevans
7. Response by Darrell L. Guder
8. Response by Ruth Padilla DeBorst
9. Response by Edward Rommen
10. Response by Ed Stetzer


"Having read this book once in order to endorse it with integrity and enthusiasm, I know that I shall read it again and often in the course of my own thinking and writing. The contributors provide both a breadth of perspectives and a depth of historical background that are illuminating, instructive, and challenging. The book has increased my understanding of and respect for divergent confessional views on Christian mission, while compelling me to re-examine and clarify my own. Like the Bereans, I am motivated afresh to search the Scriptures to see if these things are true--and such an effect is surely the mark of a truly stimulating and worthwhile book."

Christopher J. H. Wright, Langham Partnership; author of The Mission of God and The Mission of God's People

"Unclear about what the church's mission should be? Do we begin thinking about the church and then decide what Christian mission is? Or do we begin with mission and then think about the nature of the church? Here is a clear, stimulating, and challenging conversation among five well-known scholars. All followers of Jesus involved in Christian mission today will find this work very helpful."

Charles Van Engen, Arthur F. Glasser Senior Professor of Biblical Theology of Mission, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Rarely does a book set off a dialogue in my mind like this one does. Each of the five essays gives careful articulation to a present-day, real-time view of the church's mission. Representing a variety of traditions, the visions are neither alike nor lacking in mutual resonance. That is gift enough. But the book also offers a round of conversation among the authors that lingers with tantalizing possibilities."

George R. Hunsberger, professor emeritus of missiology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan

"This well-researched and engaging text provides a compelling examination of the integral relationship between the global church and the mission of God. Ecumenical in its approach, the text includes thoughtful essays from authors who each present a unique yet integral perspective on the missional nature and purpose of the church. This book's dialogical structure invites each scholar to engage with the diverse Christian perspectives presented, offering a fresh understanding of the truly complementary yet distinctive nature of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant movements. More than a theoretical study, The Mission of the Church compels its readers and the global Christian church as a whole into missional action. This text is an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners alike who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of God's mission as expressed in and through his people."

Sarita D. Gallagher, associate professor of religion, George Fox University

"The Mission of the Church is quite a special invitation into a very engaging and respectful ecumenical conversation about the theology and practice of mission. After carefully listening to the other four authors, each author then outlines the similarities and differences with their own understanding of mission. Craig Ott has done a wonderful service in facilitating this stimulating and in-depth process of dialogue that highlights the complementarity and creative tension among the various perspectives on mission within various streams of Christianity today."

Roger Schroeder, Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, professor of mission and culture, Catholic Theological Union at Chicago

"The word 'mission' is not a biblical word but theological terminology, like Trinity and providence, that seeks to capture the Bible's teaching. But what exactly is it? This well-designed book offers a helpful guide to the rich discussion that has taken place across theological traditions over the past century. The representatives of the five positions are well-chosen. The helpful introduction by Craig Ott, the particular presentation of the different approaches, and the ensuing dialogue will orient the reader to the main issues in understanding mission today, but it will also offer much insight into a biblical understanding of mission which is the fruit of much theological labor. Highly recommended."

Michael W. Goheen, director of theological education, Missional Training Center-Phoenix; scholar-in-residence, Surge Network

"A great resource for understanding the current state of mission theology. Twenty-five years ago a convergence of thinking began to emerge regarding the mission of the church among Roman Catholics, Ecumenicals, Evangelicals, Orthodox, and Pentecostals. This important multi-author volume brings this discussion up to date as the authors stress the distinctives of their traditions but do so within some shared or related biblical and theological frameworks. It would serve well as a text for introducing this important subject in a missiology course."

Craig Van Gelder, professor emeritus of congregational mission, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

The Author

  1. Craig Ott

    Craig Ott

    Craig Ott (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of mission and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where he occupies the ReachGlobal Chair of Mission and directs the PhD in intercultural...

    Continue reading about Craig Ott


Named one of Ten Outstanding Books of 2016 for Mission Studies, International Bulletin of Mission Research

"This is a great resource for developing conversation on the mission of the church. It is perfect for expanding the reader's understanding of mission beyond his or her own denominational understanding. This contribution to the conversation by Craig Ott is necessary and appreciated."

Dustin Slaton,

Great Commission Research Journal