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July 1974 · Vol. 3 No. 2 · pp. 227–28 

Book Review

Frontiers in Missionary Strategy

C. Peter Wagner. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1971. 223 pages.

Reviewed by Henry J. Schmidt

Frontiers in Missionary Strategy is an attempt to set some guidelines for the development of a strategy which, “while being evangelical and biblically oriented, is also pragmatic and effective.” The author believes that all missionary strategy should be characterized by three qualities: Bible-centeredness, efficiency, and relevancy. Furthermore, any effective missionary strategy must take into account the people, their culture, and their responsiveness to the gospel. The underlying thesis of any missionary strategy, according to Wagner, is that “before sowing the seed of the Word, we do well to test the soil.”

Dr. Wagner takes a hard look at Kenneth Strachan’s theory about sound missionary strategy, such as strong tradition and culture ties, lack of training to diagnose the health of a church, basing strategy on “need,” substituting good activities for making disciples, and using the Holy Spirit as a smokescreen. The book makes a strong plea for “keeping missionary strategy up-to-date” and gives some very practical suggestions for updating hermeneutics, theology of missions, ecumenism, technology, and missionary personnel. {228}

Dr. Wagner takes a hard look at Kenneth Strachan’s theory about evangelism-in-depth. While he does not rule out the concept, he finds flaws which suggest the necessity for rethinking and revising the concept from both theoretical and practical standpoints.

The chapters dealing with “The Emerging Church in Missionary Strategy” and “Strategy for Urban Evangelism” are extremely helpful in understanding, planning for, and evaluating church growth. I heartily recommend this book to missions’ executives, missionaries and pastors. Laymen who read it will no doubt be forced to ask whether their financial investment in missions is yielding adequate return and if not, why not?

Dr. C. Peter Wagner is presently a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has been a missionary in Bolivia for sixteen years.

Henry J. Schmidt

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