Book Review: Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission

Fathering Leaders, Motivating MissionWhen someone writes an updated history or account of the rise (and fall) of the new church movement in the UK from the 1960s onwards, this book will prove enormously helpful.

It is the clearest exposition, so far, of the Newfrontiers family of churches position on the role of apostles today. For some, of course, that last sentence makes no sense because, so the thinking goes, there are no apostles today. Here, Dave Devenish does his best to make the biblical case for the role of apostles in the church.

There are lots of positives and important lessons in the book, whether you agree with the central premise or not. Most evangelicals would agree with the need to know the big themes of Scripture (chapter 6), who we are in Christ (chapter 7), the vital importance of world mission (chapter 9), bringing individuals and churches to maturity (chapter 14), giving to the poor (chapter 15) and so on.

Church leaders would often recognise the need for a father figure in their leadership (chapter 4) even if they wouldn’t call that person an apostle. They’d probably agree with the need for financial safeguards and the importance of working in teams (chapter 12). Others would be encouraged that the picture drawn is not one of vain seekers of self promotion but includes a willingness to suffer for the gospel and to carry the burden for church planting across the nations. I know many people who have gained and grown from the authors wisdom, passion for the local church and commitment to the nations particularly in the Russian speaking and Islamic nations.

There are a few concerns though, the book reads as snappily as its title, so while not being particularly academic neither does it particularly engage. Devenish knows the importance of story and narrative yet the stories recounted here are helpful but rarely engaging, even when you know some of the people and places!

I guess my biggest concern is that I’m not sure this will book will do enough to convince the unconvinced, although perhaps that’s not entirely the purpose. I think this will instead be most used to clarify and help those who intuitively agree with the author’s position but need some help with the supporting arguments.

Overall, this is a helpful book both to understand where a movement such as Newfrontiers is coming from and a book with many, many wise insights into mature, pioneering, faith filled mission and ministry through the church for the glory of Christ.

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2 Thoughts to “Book Review: Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission”

  1. Good review and it perhaps could have done with a more critical editor. I got stuck half way through reading it, before finishing it off a few months later. I think its main strength is that I don’t know of any other books that draw these arguments together in one place.

    1. Yeah, it took me ages to read, it just didn’t turn the pages easily. I agree with as to its strength, the next stage will be to build upon it. 

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