Sunday, July 13, 2008

Book Review: “Radical Outreach: Recovery of Apostolic Ministry and Evangelism.”By George G Hunter III. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.

Overview—Give a brief overview of the book, including its theme, perspective and approach.

Radical Outreach was written to explain what "apostolic ministry" is all about. Hunter is not arguing for the restoration of the apostolic office (ala C. Peter Wagner), but rather uses the term much like Alan Hirsch uses "apostolic genius" – a recovery of New Testament missional approaches. Hunter initially takes his cues from Paul's Corinthian correspondence and then looks at historical precedence for missional ministry which draws heavily from Celtic missions (Patrick, Aiden, et al), the Wesley Revivals, and early Pentecostalism. He argues specifically for apostolic ministry through cultural relevance and empowered laity. These emphases are illustrated will examples from local church ministries and recovery ministries. He concludes with principles drawn from Jesus' "conversations" in the early chapters of John's gospel.

Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.

Hunter makes sure he begins and ends his book with Scriptural teaching. His desire to be biblically rooted is highly commendable. His principles, particularly from John's gospel, are challenging. I also thought his historical examples fleshed out the principles well. This was not surprising coming from the man who also wrote "The Celtic Way of Evangelism". Hunter did not try to do too much either. By limiting his focus to "cultural relevance" and "empowered laity" Hunter offers two very practical areas in to begin a more intentional missional approach. He seems to define "cultural relevance" by "style of worship music" – a moot point for many contemporary churches, but perhaps still an issue for mainline Methodism (his "tribe"). And after reading "The Forgotten Ways" by Alan Hirsch, Hunter's thoughts don't seem particularly "radical"!

Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.

An emerging theme in many of the contemporary missional outreach books is cultural relevance and empowered laity. I was challenged by Hunter's insistence on relying more and more on God's people in the church to do the work of "apostolic ministry". I was convicted at the similarity of the ministry of "Old East Side Church" and my own! And I will bring the questions he poses in his chapter "Witness Through Ministry, Hospitality, and Conversation" to my church.

Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.

p. 187: "Are we willing for our church to become their church too? …As first-century Judaism was glad for Gentiles to adopt Jewish culture, twenty-first-century churches are glad for "outsiders" to become "like us" and do everything "our way"; but the line of people eager to do that is usually short!"

No comments: