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The Symphony of Mission

Playing Your Part in God's Work in the World

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This book is designed to help all people understand the broad scope of God's mission. Michael Goheen and Jim Mullins explain that everyone can live intentionally into God's mission by understanding its many facets and focusing on a particular calling. Just like different instruments of a symphony harmonize together, each aspect of human participation in mission--evangelism, justice initiatives, poverty alleviation, faithful work in the marketplace, art--can help people play their part in God's work in the world. Combining expertise from a mission scholar and a working pastor, the book includes practical examples and tools to help readers imagine their part in God's mission.

1. Story: Listening to the Symphony
2. Simplicity: Learning the Notes
3. Intentionality: The Movements of Mission
4. Stewardship: Displaying the Glory of the Father through the Work of Our Hands
5. Service: Displaying the Love of Christ by Washing the Feet of the World
6. The Spoken Word: Displaying the Power of the Holy Spirit by Opening Our Mouths
7. Listening: Finding Your Place in God's Symphony
8. Performing: Participating in God's Symphony
9. Sustaining: Persevering in God's Symphony
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"Are you concerned about justice but overwhelmed by the mess of the world around you? Do you wonder what God wants you to do with your life? Don't despair--read this book! Goheen and Mullins are virtuosos and wise counselors in this biblical, hopeful, and practical book about our participation in God's mission."

Stephanie Summers, CEO, Center for Public Justice

"What is God's mission? What is my role in it? How should I orient my life given the many important local and global causes and concerns--poverty, violence, refugees, racism, unreached people--that compete for my attention? With biblical wisdom and practical guidance, Michael Goheen and Jim Mullins point a way forward for local churches and individuals seeking to faithfully follow Jesus into God's mission of rescue and restoration. The Symphony of Mission is a vital guide to hearing and heeding God's call."

Matthew Soerens, US director of church mobilization, World Relief; national coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table; coauthor of Welcoming the Stranger and Seeking Refuge

"The Symphony of Mission presents us with an expression of integrated faith and invites us to inhabit the blessings and privileges of the long game of holistic discipleship. Those in pulpit and pew will benefit immensely from the guidance of Goheen and Mullins."

Vincent Bacote, director, Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College

"What is basic Christianity? What is the very heart of honest faith through the centuries? In the world I know, we suffer from dualisms of all sorts that fragment faith in ways that serve neither God nor the world, missing the meaning of who God is and what he has called us to do. The church all over the world needs help, and this new book by Mike Goheen and Jim Mullins is one that I hope will be deeply and seriously read. With echoes of Newbigin and Stott, it is theologically rooted and biblically rich, inviting all of us to see ourselves in the Great Story of God's work in the world. At the same time it is deeply human, pastorally attentive, and pedagogically attuned to the complexity and nuance of life, that each one of us is unique and must find our place in the story. The Symphony of Mission is for every son of Adam and daughter of Eve who wants to make sense of life in the world, for everyone everywhere who longs to live life for the sake of the world."

Steven Garber, professor of marketplace theology, Regent College; author of Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good

"This book is a masterpiece of both-and. Its framing metaphor of a musical symphony captures both the robust breadth and the intricate complexity of the missio Dei. It paints a 3-D picture of a life of daily missional faithfulness that speaks to both the blue- and the white-collar worlds. It is a book for both novices and veterans of the faith-at-work movement. It provides both fresh, practical counsel regarding witness in today's culture and reminders of the timeless wisdom of the great Reformers. It is rich in theology and praxis. In short, Goheen and Mullins have given the church a resource that is winsome and pointed, imaginative and grounded, deep and accessible. Five stars!"

Amy L. Sherman, author of Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

"Ever since recognizing the call of Psalm 96 to 'Sing a new song . . . all the earth . . . among the nations . . . among all peoples' as a glorious picture of the music of mission, I have advocated a musical metaphor as a valid biblical way of thinking about mission, in contrast to the more common military images (though they have biblical warrant too). And here it is! A whole book on the music of mission! I just love the fertile imagery of mission as God's great symphony for the whole creation. But Goheen and Mullins do far more than exploit a metaphor. Their book is richly biblical, filled with inspiring and challenging real-life experience, and stands out as one of the most down-to-earth, practical guidebooks I have read on how all so-called ordinary Christians can and should be playing their part in God's mission. We are not the audience applauding the professional (missionary) musicians. We are the orchestra itself, God is the composer, and his is the glorious music we are invited to play together."

Christopher J. H. Wright, Langham Partnership; author of The Mission of God

"The Symphony of Mission clinically outlines how we are to participate as earthly instruments, bringing restoration through the melodic resources of heaven. Goheen and Mullins have snatched the narrative arc of redemption from the ethereal and placed it in the practical rhythms of everyday interactions."

Sho Baraka, artist, The Narrative; executive director, Terminus Collective

"This is one of the best books on mission that I've encountered in recent years. I resonate with the authors' picture of mission as a glorious symphony, which harmonizes various missional activities and callings within the divine composer's purpose for all of creation. What makes Goheen and Mullins's approach distinctive is their attention to how God's mission plays out in everyday practice. The book teems with engaging examples, gripping stories, and useful tools. Readers, prepare to be deeply moved and personally challenged to more faithfully participate in God's symphony. I can't wait to share this book with my students!"

Dean Flemming, professor of New Testament, Nazarene University

"The Symphony of Mission is a magnificent contribution to current conversations about the nature of Christian mission. Bringing a rare blend of theological expertise and ministry experience to the table, Goheen and Mullins provide a narrative-based biblical theology and a holistic approach to mission from which pastors, students, and professors alike will benefit. Highly recommended."

Bruce Ashford, provost and professor of theology and culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"The mission of God's people in the world is a contested topic. But I am of the opinion that many of the challenges we face today are due to the church having a truncated view of what it means to be Christ's body in the here and now. This book serves not just the church but society in articulating a view of mission that cares about the totality of God's world."

Tyler Johnson, lead pastor, Redemption Church, Arizona

The Authors

  1. Michael W. Goheen

    Michael W. Goheen

    Michael W. Goheen (PhD, University of Utrecht) is professor of missional theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is also professor of missional theology and director of theological education at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix. Goheen is...

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  2. Jim Mullins

    Jim Mullins

    Jim Mullins is pastor of vocational and theological formation at Redemption Church in Tempe, Arizona, and director of faith, work, and rest at the Surge Network of Churches-Phoenix. He is also cofounder and vice president of Peace Catalyst International, an...

    Continue reading about Jim Mullins