The mission of Life Groups at the Ridge is “to connect people in community, to invest in their spiritual growth, encourage them to serve others, and multiply disciple-makers.”
‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ Just as the church is called to love
in ways that mirror the eternal relationships of love that Father, Son and Spirit have
shared from all eternity, so the missionary nature of the church derives ultimately
from the missionary nature of God’s own life. . . .
As I have indicated more than once in the foregoing argument, the fundamental
difference between asserting that God has a mission and asserting that God is
missionary is that in the former case the mission may be incidental, disconnected
from who God is; in the latter case, mission is one of the perfections as God, as
adequate a description of who he is as love, omnipotence or eternity. To return to
the slogans this article was written to explore, a missionary church might worship
a God who has a mission, but it is conceivable that such a God could be worshipped
by a non-missionary church; if God is properly described as ‘missionary’, however,
he can only be worshipped by a missionary church. A church that refuses the call to
mission is failing to be the church God calls it to be just as fundamentally as a church
that refuses the call to be loving. Just as purposeful, cruciform, self-sacriﬁcial
sending is intrinsic to God’s own life, being sent in a cruciform, purposeful and self-sacriﬁcial way must be intrinsic to the church being the church.
This might be expressed in credal language. Baptist accounts of what it means
for the church to be ‘apostolic’ have sometimes suggested that continuity in the
apostolic mission is a part of this, alongside (or instead of ) more Catholic accounts
of continuity in the apostolic institution and more Reformed accounts of continuity
in the apostolic doctrine. Exegeting what the Fathers of Nicea and Constantinople
meant in their declarations of faith is a specialist art in which I am not schooled, but
credal interpretation tends, in any case, to proceed through theological argument of
what should be meant, rather than historical argument as to what was meant. An
argument that mission was a mark of the church, without which it is not being what
by grace the triune God has made it, could easily be made, therefore.
--From Stephen R. Holmes, Trinitarian Missiology: Towards a Theology of God as Missionary
This book has the potential to radically change for good your perspective on evangelism. It is required reading at Parkside. — Alistair Begg, Senior Minister, Parkside Church
This is as lively and sensible a book on evangelism as I have seen, especially valuable for bringing out the wide range of activities that need to be carried on in effective Christian witness in contemporary society. It encourages congregations to recognize the varied gifts of their members and to enable each one to be involved in evangelism, even though not all of them may be called to be evangelists in the narrower sense of the term. — Howard Marshall, Professor, University of Aberdeen
When I was asked to review this new book on evangelism, I didn’t know what to expect. But I soon discovered: this is a terrific book! Without compromising or reducing the gospel to pious platitudes, Dickson presents evangelism as the Christ-centered imperative of biblical faith. Theologically rich and practically helpful. — Timothy George, Editor, Christianity Today
John Dickson’s The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission was not only a great stimulus to my own thinking about evangelism but also proved a real help to our congregation at St. Ebbe’s, Oxford, as we thought through how we could best fulfill our role as Christ’s witnesses. It’s a wonderful mix of thoughtful reflection on the Bible and down-to-earth practical application. — Vaughan Roberts, President, The Proclamation Trust UK
Even—or perhaps especially—if you do not consider yourself to be a gifted evangelist, John Dickson will encourage you from Scripture with many varied ways to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. — Collin Hansen, Author, Young, Restless, Reformed:A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists
John Dickson shows that taking seriously the church’s message, worship, and ecclesiology, along with the biblical call for Christians to impact the social and cultural world around them, does not negate the mandate and high calling of evangelism. In fact, to be ambassadors for the gospel of the kingdom is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian and to change the world. This is a message that needs to be heard. — Jim Belcher, Author, Deep Church
John Dickson has given us a biblically rich and powerfully written book on evangelism. His views are deeply embedded in Scripture and well-rounded. He does not fall into formulas, but encourages us toward a lifestyle of living and speaking the gospel in our culture today. I recommend this book to those whose passion for evangelism has flagged as well as for those who are actively sharing Christ with their friends and neighbors. — Tremper Longman III, Professor, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
Any twenty-first-century Christian who has felt the dread of proselytizing people into the faith should read John Dickson’s empathetic, confessional treatise on Christian mission. He combines the mind of a scholar with the heart of a pastor to talk to us as fellow Christians about the compelling wonder of Christ for the twenty-first-century world. — David Livermore, Executive Director, Global Learning Center, Grand Rapids MI
Some years ago John Dickson ran an excellent evangelism training course in our local church. The course material—now available in this book—is biblical, liberating, and practical. I commend it as a stimulating resource for congregations and church leadership teams. — Christopher Ash, Director, Cornhill Training Course , London
A biblical, practical, warm, and encouraging book that does exactly what it sets out to do: equip us as the Christian community to promote the gospel. This should become a standard text on the subject. —Michael Frost, Director, Centre for Evangelism and Global Mission, Morling College, Sydney
Having read Dr. Dickson’s published doctoral thesis, I am delighted that he has now produced this highly readable book for all church members in the biblical art of mission today. The style is down-to-earth and lively. I warmly recommend it. — Donald Robinson, Principal of Moore Theological College, Sydney
Here is a compelling case for the involvement of all believers in promoting the gospel, not based on hype or overwrought exegesis but on a profound understanding of Scripture and illustrated with contemporary and moving human experience. A must-read. — Robert Forsyth, Bishop of South Sydney, Anglican Church of Australia
I warmly recommend this book. I have learned from reading it, and I have no doubt that others will as well. It challenged me, encouraged me, and often inspired me. And at my age that’s quite an achievement! — Alister McGrath, President, Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics
In The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, John Dickson winsomely demonstrates how each of us can be part of the greatest story ever: God’s mission to our hurting world. He insightfully observes that proclaiming the gospel is not only about witnessing to the reality of God’s worth and uniqueness with our lips but with our very lives—through such everyday but life-transforming acts as prayer, faithfulness, compassion, and worship … I wholeheartedly commend John’s book to you and know you will be richer for his insights. — Ravi Zacharias
“John Dickson presents a bigger picture of evangelism than most of us are used to. We should, he insists, recognise worship, love, prayer, and generosity as all part of “gospel” work. Still more refreshing is the heart of the book: a treatment of Jesus and the Kingdom of God—the message of the four Gospels—as the centre of “the gospel.” God’s good news is about the entire new creation, and ourselves caught up into it; it is not just a mechanism for getting individuals into heaven. Dickson explains the whole picture with so many real-life stories that one cannot fail to be drawn in to the excitement of this many-sided gospel work. Here is a book offering fresh energy for the whole task of the whole people of God.” — N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham
Dickson offers a thoroughly biblical account of evangelism, informed and enlivened by stories from his own experience. For many who are weary of what often goes by the name evangelism, this book will be a most refreshing and inspiring experience. — Richard Bauckham, Senior Scholar, Ridley Hall, Cambridge
"The Christian who learns generosity, kindness or humility as a way of life begins to be noticed. Her friends and neighbours quietly begin to wonder why she seems different, striking, at peace. Some are offended and angered by what they assume is some kind of spirtual superiority; some are drawn to ask the question of why she is like this. The result is the glory of God and the savltaion of people. If such virtue is absent, the non-Christian wonders what all the fuss is about. If Christians don't live in any discernibly different way from all the others, then why should he believe what they say? But if they do live differently,then it challeges, provkes and intrigues. Christian virtue is, at the end of the day, a missionary imperative."
-Graham Tomlin, Spiritual Fitness, 104.
- a people who are light to the world by their good lives (1 Pet)
- a people who are learning obedience and teaching it to the nations (Mt)
- a people who love one another in order to show who they belong to (Jn)
It would be heard to find a more concise articulation of the integration of Christian ethics and Christian mission."
--Christopher Wright, The Mission of God, 392.
Mark Driscoll posts a short reflection on the summer, and God's good gifts. At the end he writes: