Changing World, Unchanging Mission is the latest book authored by Dr. David Sills. Changing World Unchanging Mission is an important primer that is essential for all believers who want to grow in their understanding of Christian missions as our world works towards globalization. Our world is changing and globalizing at an incredibly rapid pace. Technology and social media have been an immense part of these advances, as technology is connecting people across the globe, allowing us to make advances in ways we could not have previously done. Though our world is changing, and our methods for gospel proclamation may change; the mission of God’s people remains the same.
David Sills is the director and president of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. Sills served as a missionary and church planter with the International Mission Board in Ecuador, prior to joining the faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology. Sills has written several books on the topic of international missions, including The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in Gods Plan for the World, and Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience. In addition to these things, Sills is currently serving as a trustee of the International Mission Board, and as a member of several missions societies including the Evangelical Missiological Society, the American Society of Missiology, and the Association of Professors of Mission.
Changing World Unchanging Mission is a response to the challenges of our changing world. Throughout the pages of the book, Sills reminds us that as Christians we are called to one mission: reaching the unreached, and sharing the good news of salvation found in Christ alone with them. Sills identifies the various ways that missionaries can be faithful to God’s call, conduct short-term missions in a way that is helpful and responsible, work in business as a part of our mission, and help in different cultures without causing more harm than good. Sills seeks to answer the question of how can Christians tell our story, an old story, in a world that is growing aggressive to things that are old and promoting new fads? What are the new challenges we are facing as Christians today, and how can we be faithful to the gospel in spite of these challenges? In each of the issues that Sills covers, he offers a unique, “out of the box” perspective that aids in working through the often sobering realities of our changing world. Sills reminds Christians that we must be ready for what we may wake up to tomorrow, for we never know what challenges our changing world may bring.
In Changing World, Unchanging Mission, Sills sets out to show believers that while the world around us is changing rapidly, our mission as God’s people remains the same. The main purpose of Changing World, Unchanging Mission is to determine how as God’s people we can be faithful to gospel proclamation in the context of our changing world. Although culture changes daily, our mission to proclaim the gospel to those who are lost has been the same since the beginning of time, and remains the central mission in every believer’s life. We are living in a day and age where technology and social media have more or less taken over, and our world is becoming more of a global village each day due to these means. Throughout the pages of Changing World, Unchanging Mission, Sills seeks to answer what our response to the ever-changing world is. Even though there are many challenges rising up on all sides, our faith has not changed, and our mission to spread the gospel has not changed either.
Sills enters into writing Changing World Unchanging Mission with a few biases. While he does an excellent job of presenting unbiased facts, any piece of writing does contain bias. First of all, Sills is a believer in Christ, which presents the bias that Christianity is the one true religion, and that all must come to faith in Christ in order to receive eternal salvation. While these views may not be explicitly stated; Sills writing is influenced by Calvinistic views including: total depravity of sinners; unconditional election of the saints; limited atonement through the blood of Jesus; irresistible grace from God; and that once Christ has saved you, saved you are always saved. Sills is also writing under the bias that as Christians, missions is important and something that we should practice. The importance of missions is central to the text, as throughout the pages of Changing World Unchanging Mission Sills is unpacking the importance of missions in the church.
There are many strengths of Changing World Unchanging Mission. Throughout the pages of this book, it is clear that Sills is passionate about gospel proclamation, and about reaching the nations for Christ. He clearly, yet concisely, unpacks many of the issues that are being faced today in missions. Due to our changing world, sometimes changes in missional methods is required. While the overall mission of seeing souls won for Christ is always the same and should never change, it may be necessary to change the way that we are able to share this sweet truth. More countries are becoming closed off to the gospel, and missionaries can no longer enter many countries on missionary visas. Throughout the pages of the book, Sills explains the rising significance of business as a mission, as it is much easier and safer to enter an unreached country as a business person rather than a missionary. Another strength that Changing World Unchanging Mission has on a more practical side is clear organization of chapters. This makes it very easy for a reader to identify which parts of the book are particularly useful to them, and read through these sections. Each chapter can stand alone, and dives into a different topic within missiology, including the role of short-term missions, globalization and urbanization, changing governments, the role of the church as a sending agency, and business as a mission. Each of these topics is incredibly important on their own, and together they present a guide to missions that should be a part of every believer’s library.
There really is not much that can be said about Changing World Unchanging Mission that is negative. It truly was an excellent guide to missions. There are a few small things, however, that I think could have been done to make this book even better. First of all, there was not as many Scripture references as there could be. While Sills does include some biblical references throughout the book, it is primarily filled with stories from the mission field, how methods of missions are changing, and a great deal of other missions related information. Another negative is that sometimes the topics jumped too quickly, or got too deep quickly. This is likely because of the vast amount of content that Sills manages to unpack without overly simplifying throughout the book, but it is something to be cautious of, especially for readers who do not have a strong background in missiology.
This book is an essential book for all believers; pastors, missionaries, and seminary students will especially benefit from the way Sill’s unpacks some of the most necessary issues we must consider as we seek to understand our role in missions. While our role in missions may differ depending on if we are sending or going, we are all called to be involved with missions in one way or another. As members of a local church, we should be supporting missions through giving tithes that go towards sending missionaries out on the field, we should be prayerfully supporting our missionaries, and, when possible, we should be going on short-term mission trips to support missionaries who are on the field in their day-to-day work. In conclusion, if you are only able to read one book this year on missions, I strongly recommend that you choose Changing World, Unchanging Mission. In a time that is marked with change, it is important to remember that somethings, the most important things, never change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; and the mission of His people also remains the same, even through times of vast cultural changes.
Want to buy Changing World, Unchanging Mission? You can do so here.
Sills, David. Changing World, Unchanging Mission. Downers Grove, IL. IVP Books, 2015. 233pp. $15.98
NOTE: This book review has been adapted from my review of Changing World, Unchanging Mission that I handed in as a part of my Introduction to Christian Missions class at Boyce College. It is a different [and lengthier] style than my usual book reviews, but I hope you enjoyed a more in-depth look at this book.