Senders: How Your Church Can Identify, Train and Deploy Missionaries by Paul Seger
Paul Seger is the Director of Biblical Ministries Worldwide, a conservative mission agency with hundreds of missionaries serving throughout the world. Prior to taking the helm at BMW Paul was a missionary in South Africa for 17 years and grew up as a missionary kid in Nigeria. With this background Seger is well-equipped to offer insight into sending missionaries in the 21st century.
Seger discusses to some extent the qualifications and job description of missionaries (pp. 89-93, 103-104), although it should be noted that he targets missionaries on the frontlines of church planting and discipleship with little attention given to support missionaries. Presumably, missionaries who work in maintenance, IT, construction, etc. would not require the same skills as those starting churches. Seger also clarifies that those devoted to social justice issues are not missionaries in the biblical sense, even though they are engaged in meaningful work, because they are not directly and intentionally engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission (pp. 9-17, 101-104).
The thrust of Senders is to provide a practical, helpful guide aimed at local churches who should be the senders of missionaries: “This book is an attempt to help churches in America to identify, train, and send the next generation of missionaries” (p. vii). He addresses vital issues such as:
· Training missionaries (pp. 55-60, 100)
· Identifying who should be sent (pp. 50, 61, 64-80)
· The prerequisites of a sending church (pp. 87-88)
· The role of parachurch organizations (pp. 116, 121)
· Choosing mission agencies (pp. 124-131)
· Funding missionaries (pp. 135-146)
· The place of tentmaking (pp. 140, 144-146)
· How to pray for missionaries (pp. 157-169)
· Specific ways to promote missions (pp. 186-187).
While not all would agree with some of Seger’s opinions such as his lack of enthusiasm for funding nationals (pp. 26-31), the distinction between mentoring and discipleship (pp. 95-97), supporting fewer missionaries but more substantially (p. 179), favoring church rather than individual support (p. 142), and dislike for faith promise programs (pp. 141-142), his thoughts, even if one disagrees, are well worth considering.
Seger is strongly encouraging local churches to become proactive in sending and supporting missionaries. To do so they must be deliberate and strategic (p. 2), and “take center stage on the topic of missions” (p. 42). Churches should begin by examining their purpose for existence (pp. 45-46). Once identified, the local church should wrap all it does around this purpose statement and communicate it often and well to all its members.
Senders is a helpful and practical manual which will aid any church to bring into focus why it exists (to make disciples) and how it can extend this purpose through global outreach.
Senders, How Your Church Can Identify, Train and Deploy Missionaries by Paul Seger (Paul Seger: 2015) 185 pp. plus vii, paper $15.00
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel, Springfield, IL