John G. Paton, Banner of Truth, 1897/2013, 538 pp. 5 of 5 stars
This is the story of an island of cannibals, their journey out of darkness, and the man who led them to the light.
John G. Paton stands as one of the great missionaries in church history. He was an icon in his day—a household name in Great Britain and Australia. Contemporaries such as C. H. Spurgeon called him the ‘King of the Cannibals’. Continue reading
Eckhard Schnabel, IVP, 2008, 518 pages, 5 of 5 stars
From time to time, most missionaries have asked themselves why their ministry is not as successful as the Apostle Paul’s. “I must be using the wrong strategy,” we groan. And it is certainly understandable to search for patterns in his ministry in hopes of garnering the same triumphs. But Paul was fruitful, Schnabel argues, not because of methods but because of the Holy Spirit’s work.
This theme is among the many reasons I consider Paul the Missionary among the top five books I have read on missions. It is a challenge to missionaries to (re)evaluate the goals and methods of their ministry in light of the work of the apostle Paul.
Schnabel’s goal is to examine “Paul’s missionary work—proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and establishing communities of believers—in terms of the goals that he had and in terms of the methods he used” (30).
And just in case we were wondering what a missionary is, he defines him as one who establishes contact with unbelievers, proclaims to them the gospel, leads them to Christ, and integrates them into a local church.
Did Paul have a missionary strategy? Schnabel says no in that he didn’t use a carefully nuanced, well-formulated game plan but yes in that he did have a broad and flexible goal to preach the gospel to as many people as possible while relying predominantly upon the Spirit’s power to change lives.
Common Misconceptions about Paul and Missions
Schnabel’s greatest strength is exposing popular misconceptions about missions and Paul’s ministry. I have consolidated six of them: Continue reading