A Vision of the Possible, by Daniel Sinclair, approx 300 pgs
This book is aimed at Christians who are living outside of their home countries in an effort to start churches among those who have had no prior notions about what the Christian religion is, who Jesus Christ is, what the Bible says. It touches on a broad array of relevant issues for such work, everything from practicalities of learning a foreign language to surfacing highly pertinent questions about the degree of missionary involvement.
I appreciated that this book does concentrate on examining this work as being done in teams (so the tagline declares: “Pioneer Church Planting in Teams”), but it is still very much aimed at the role of the primary visionary/apostolic leader, an individual who seems to have a more significant role on the team than any of the other members. To me, as a non-visionary, this slant could be a bit off-putting.
I will not bother to review the entire content of this book, instead opting to highlight the two most eye-opening (for me) notions.
First, in his continual references to nations and nationalities which are likely to be the least receptive to the Christian message (due to having a vastly different set of assumptions and perspectives underpinning their worldview), the author regularly includes the country of Japan in his list of people groups which are least permeated by the Christian message (pg. 120, 200).
When one thinks of places in the world that will be least receptive, or perhaps even hostile, to Christianity, it’s easy to turn our thoughts to countries in the Middle East, for instance. But Japan? Indeed, it was striking that Japan, a relatively homogenous society of 130+ million people, could be considered in a similar category as a culture that is hard to reach with the message of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to glance at Japan and see a highly functioning, well-developed, orderly society–and thus assume other things about its religious openness. I wonder how many Christians regularly think of Japan as one of the more significant global mission fields.
The second eye-opening notion that I encountered in this book was the author’s passing remark that, while there are numerous well-known books on how to lead well, what we really need is a book on how to be a good follower (pg.170), especially written from a Christian perspective. When one looks at books written for Christians who are not living overseas as missionaries and serving as part of teams, the paucity of literature is even more distinct.
We have a great tendency in American culture to glorify the leader and the call to leadership. We rarely invest much in taking ourselves to a higher degree of excellence as followers. I think I shall have more to say about that.
In all, this book is a helpful primer for those that fall into the target audience. It covers a wide-array of issues and provides fuel for pondering many highly relevant questions for the work of starting churches. While it does tend to be aimed at the leader of a team engaged in this type of work, it would be helpful for all workers in this field to be familiar with its content and equipped to consider the issues it surfaces. For those outside of the arena of living in another country in order to start a church, this book will likely have little value.
Overall, I’m personally thankful that I read it, primarily for the two notions mentioned above.
Learn about the book, Embracing Followership, which was inspired by this review!