Don Everts has written a deeply pastoral book about the actual life of the Christian, or perhaps, let us wax Platonic for a moment – the ideal life of the Christian. It’s a good thing that this book is about outreach too, since he is an outreach minister. I was an outreach minister once, but I had no clue as to what I was doing, and still don’t. Everts does though, and that gives me hope that I don’t have to work so hard.
Insightfully evangelical, this book aims to promote the idea that it is high time for Christians to stop saying that they missional, whatever they think that means, but to get off the church pew and go and do likewise, as Jesus commanded in the Gospels. He begins his easy to read, hard to follow, book with looking at the word missional. He’s right. I mean, you can’t write the word missional without some software balking at the abuse of the English language you have just committed. His insistence, then, is that maybe we should see it as more than a word, but as a lifestyle. Following this line of thinking is the first part of his book in which he looks at the physical aspects of this new creature, this missional Christian. Baring some semblance to Andy Byer’s book on cynicism (Likewise, 2011), Everts gives us sober eyes, servant hands, ready feet, compassionate hearts, and a joyful soul. Sounds like a lot of wishy-washy pseudo-emergent Christianity feel-good hocus pocus, but it’s not. Not that this is a deeply theological or academic book, but Everts is trying his best to reach those who are the Christians in the pews, who live and work next to those who aren’t (You know, like most of us) and who think that they are not connected to the mission field. So, he uses the language of us. He shows how the missional Christians should move past the Safe, Successful, and Happy Christian (personified individual investment strategies established in the introduction). It is not cliche, but an honest and new approach to moving people. His message is simple, that the missional Christian needs to be a growing Christian, a new creature, so he gives us organ transplants.
The second part of the book is the difficult part of the book. It deals with our mission field. I would like to think that the only mission field that exists is in Africa or Asia, where the pagans are, but Everts doesn’t let me dwell there – there with all the excuses of why I can’t go and then why I can’t be missional. No, Everts insists that the mission field is everywhere we can reach. It is our homes, in our families, our neighbors, and even ourselves. From there, Everts demands we move into relational evangelism, making use of a thriving Church, living in urban mercy, and securing global partnerships. What I get from this is that Everts is building a circle around us, with us at the center point, and showing us how to move out from ourselves to reach others for the cause of Christ. Maybe this doesn’t work for you, but maybe you could try it? Maybe… maybe we are all outreach ministers now?
Don Everts’ book serves as a push out the door for American evangelicals. No longer should evangelicals simply rely on mission networks in other countries to preach to others, but Christians are being called to always be a missionary.