Global Missiology English, Vol 1, No 13 (2015)

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A Critical Review of Terry and Payne’s “Developing A Strategy for Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Cultural Introduction"

Eric Scholten


According to John Mark Terry, the stated purpose for the book is as follows: "In this book we show you how to develop strategies to reach the people groups of the world for Christ" (vii).

Terry and J.D. Payne combine their years on the mission field, in the classroom, and in the local church to present a volume that combines theory, history, and the practical steps needed to start from zero believers and move toward a vibrant cluster of churches (viii). The overarching thesis of the book is that the authors believe that the Holy Spirit can guide planning as well as work. This thesis is built off of William Carey's use of the term, "means" in his 1792 "Enquiry". The authors take up the task of explaining Carey's view of means by specifically focusing on the means of strategic planning.

Terry and Payne begin with solid principles, survey the history of strategic planning in the church, and then give precise steps for the strategic planning process. The first five chapters of their book focus on principles needed to think well about a missions strategy. They define what they mean by strategy, offer a broad view of what it takes to develop a missions strategy, deal with objections to strategizing from a biblical perspective, and finally focus on some necessary missiological principles to consider in developing a strategy.

The next large section of the book surveys various missions strategies throughout church history. This very helpful section allows the reader to gain insights from a broad range of missions practitioners. Terry and Payne work from the Apostle Paul to some of today's most significant issues in missions, such as contextualization strategies and frontier missions.

The authors use the final section of their book to give the reader practical steps on how to develop a missions strategy to best engage the people to whom God has sent them. Terry and Payne begin with the basics of cultural research and move toward visioning for the future, forming a team, setting goals, and execution of the strategy. They also include a helpful People-Group Profile template in the appendix.