Book Review: A Mind for Missions by Paul Borthwick

I read a lot of books, it is one of my favorite ways to pass the time. When you read as many books as I do every now and then you get a few duds; books that are forgettable at best, and maybe even a waste of time. Every now and then you find a real gem though; a book you can reread again down the road and enjoy it anew and discover new things. For me, one of those books is Dr. Paul Borthwick’s A Mind for Missions.

I first read this book about 15 years ago. I had just returned from a short-term mission trip to  and felt like my life had changed from the experience. I had seen God at work in ways I never had before. I had felt God working in my life in new ways and I wanted more than anything to continue that growth. I started looking for ways to learn more about missions and keep myself engaged in the Great Commission. I do not remember how, but I found A Mind for Missions. I tore through it that first read and was so excited to discover real, practical ways for me to continue to learn and be engaged from right here in the US. This book was one of the key pieces in the journey that eventually lead me to meet my wife and for us to move overseas and serve as missionaries.

I have since read it 4-5 times. For those who are interested in global missions, I have recommended this book probably more than any other missions related book. Here are a few things I really like about this book and why you should read it.

The Introduction makes it clear the purpose of the book and what really is at stake. Borthwick writes,

“after we make the basic decision to follow Jesus Christ and give him that ‘blank check’, we still face many choices in our daily discipleship. One of the most basic choices is where we will focus our attention, whether we will focus on ourselves or the world around us. Expressed another way, we face a choice to be worldly Christians or world Christians.”

Borthwick emphasized involvement in world missions as a matter of obedience and hits on some of the many things we have to gain or lose depending on how we respond to God’s call. This is a great reminder and one I have had to have through the years as I continually battle my own nature to put myself first instead of others.

The thing I like best about A Mind for Missions is that it is very practical and actionable. The subtitle is “10 Ways to Build Your World Vision”, (that would make a hot “listicle” blog post title!) and if you are into missions life hacks, this books it for you. It is going to give you practical ways to become more missions minded. For most readers, the accessibility of the book and the applicability make it my top recommendation for a missions book. The book presents ten building blocks, such as prayer, current events, reading, and lifestyle choices, for growing your heart for the world and interest in missions.

The theology of missions is important and the church needs to understand that better. The history of missions is a testimony to God’s faithfulness and the successes and failures of missionaries who have gone before. A knowledge of what is going on in the world and the incredible ways that God is moving around the globe should excite and encourage us. I hope you all will be able to dig deeper into these things as you grow in your faith. However, sometimes you just need to get the ball rolling and begin putting into practice habits that will grow your own faith and will grow in you a desire to learn the theology, the history and the ongoing nature of missions. A Mind for Missions is that gentle but firm nudge that can get the ball rolling for you. I know you will be capable to digesting Borthwick’s suggestions and putting them into action in you life. I am also confident that if you do, your own spiritual walk and your feeling of purpose as a part of God’s global work will find new growth. Even if you have been involved in missions for years, I would still recommend this book, I believe that all readers will find something that they will be struck by that they can integrate into the way they live out their faith.

Are there any drawbacks to this book? I would not say there are any drawbacks to the content, which is excellent. However, the book was published in 1987, some readers may be distracted by references to newspapers and how to find information. Though the book was originally written to a pre-Internet audience, the principles and building blocks are as true today as they were in 1987. In fact, readers now should be even more encouraged that they can find such a wealth of information on their phones, a wealth that couldn’t even have been imagined 30 years ago!

A Mind for Missions is one of my favorite missions books and one that has changed my own life. It has provided me simple, actionable ways to grow my knowledge of the world and to deepen my commitment to the Great Commission. Each time I have reread the book, I have been encouraged to persevere, to try new things and to re-engage with practices that may have fallen by the wayside. If you haven’t read this book, I would encourage you, not only to read it, but to take seriously Borthwick’s suggestions and to prayerfully begin finding ways to grow your own world vision and involvement in the Lord’s Kingdom work. I will be praying that as you read it, the Lord of the harvest will be calling you out into his harvest field.

If you do read it, I would love to hear how the book has impacted your thinking and any things you have started doing differently to live your life as a world Christian.

Additional Resources

Paul Borthwick’s blog


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