For those who’ve read the latter, Christopher J. H. Wright’s The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission should not be thought of as a sequel to his larger and quite dense work, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (my review here); rather, it might be seen as an elaborated point of that work written to be more accessible for a book series (Biblical Theology for Life), the writing of which Wright was asked to be a part. Do not, however, let that lessen your interest! Though there is certainly overlap—even quoting of MoG—this is incredibly insightful and convicting, even for those of us who have been preaching and teaching the same things for years. Since I deal mostly with students in these kinds of recommendations, my order of recommendation would be to read first MoGP and then MoG, with a few exceptions. For the more advanced, MoG would naturally provide a greater foundation for MoGP—and, yes, I’d still recommend reading both.
In Wright’s own words:
“If the basic argument of my earlier book, The Mission of God, was that we need to read the whole Bible in all its parts comprehensively to discern and describe God’s great mission of cosmic redemption, then the argument of this book, The Mission of God’s People, is that we likewise need to read the whole Bible comprehensively to discern and describe what the implications are for us, the people whom God has loved, chosen, called, redeemed, shaped and sent into the world in the name of Christ” (267).
Keep in mind that this is not a how-to book, but one of A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission. If in search for a “what to do when my mission program fails and no one is being converted,” then one should probably read this book for a number of reasons, though it certainly won’t provide the specific answer anticipated. Wright looks to answer, by way of several avenues within a truly holistic picture of mission, “Who are we and what are we here for?” A detailed outline is provided at the beginning of the book, making it easy for one to locate sections for specific material and lesson planning, though I still recommend reading it through in its entirety.
As I have read others’ reviews of this book, one concern that is sorely misguided and needs correcting is that Wright does not deal with our mission as expressed in the New Testament, specifically Jesus’ “Great Commission.” Not only does he address this tree (perhaps these readers/reviewers didn’t make it all the way through the book), but he does so by looking at the forest of the Bible in its entirety to better understand what that means. The reader certainly benefits from Wright’s scholarship in Hebrew and the Old Testament as he makes the narrative come alive and become practical and applicable for us all by understanding our story—the story. The mission of God’s people is the same from the beginning ‘til now. It would help to better understand our past in order to better understand and appreciate this great truth of Scripture!
Here’s yet another book added to my “must read” list!