Book review: Being Missional, Becoming Missional

Anvil journal of theology and mission

Banseok Cho, Being Missional, Becoming Missional: A Biblical-Theological Study of the Missional Conversion of the Church, (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2021)

by Rosie Hopley, CMS MA student

This book offers an exploration of the church, in particular the North American church, and its understanding of mission.

Banseok Cho gives a thorough grounding into the concept of mission for the church and sets out to research the topic of missional conversion of the church itself. Using an in-depth biblical theological approach (p. 7), he explores the missionary vocation of the people of God, and the way God shapes his people through this process. Beginning with Yahweh and Israel’s missional conversion, Cho moves on to Jesus and his disciples’ missional conversion, the Holy Spirit and conversion of the early church and the missiological implications for the church today.

I found myself persuaded by Cho’s arguments and the evidence he presents that Yahweh in the Old Testament, and God in the New Testament, has faithfully been committed to his mission for enfolding the nations into his presence and holiness. What the Lord began with Abraham has continued through millennia: a covenantal love and commitment to relationship with those he has created. Through the Son of God, filled with the Spirit of God, peoples have been invited into the family and community of God.

This is a book well worth reading. I found that I particularly enjoyed section 3: The Disciples’ Encounter with Jesus and Their Missional Conversion, and section 4: The Earliest Church’s Encounter with the Holy Spirit and Its Missional Conversion. Cho helps the reader to understand how Jesus’ and the Holy Spirit’s commitment to transforming people into a contrast community witnessing to those around demonstrates the missional purpose of the church. God not only sends his church but also changes his church through mission. As people we are transformed by his presence and holiness among his people. The presence and holiness of God, now indwelling his contrast communities, act as a witness to those who do not yet know him. Reading Cho’s description of God’s presence with his people reminded me of the precious privilege of being a chosen people, and a treasured possession in the eyes of their maker.

If you want to gain an understanding of the church’s calling to be a people on mission because of the Lord’s presence among us, this is a book for you. Cho will deftly walk you through millennia of how God has done this among his people in an increasing and expansive way, firstly with Abraham, then the people of Israel, the disciples and early church, and more recently with the church that crosses barriers and boundaries. For those longing to see more of the presence of God in their midst, Cho’s book can increase insight and more importantly provide fuel for prayer to see the church becoming missional, and so transformed, in the process.

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