Jacob C. Boyd’s Review of COME AND SEE: A HISTORY AND THEOLOGY OF MISSION, by Glen Scrivener and Justin Schell

Published on May 22, 2023 by Eugene Ho

Union Publishing, 2022 | 130 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

by Jacob C. Boyd


The triune God is the missionary God who comes to the world to save the lost. Come and See by Glen Scrivener and Justin Schell articulates well how the mission of the church is the mission of God. The goal of this book is to show the reader how theology is not just the foundation of mission, but all theology should be about mission (1). All theology is about mission because all of God’s revelation is purposeful and missional. In fact, the mission of God’s revelation, His communication to humanity, is “to reveal Jesus so that we might believe” (2).

The book invites the reader to come and see the saving mission of God. Chapters one through five establish the theological foundation for mission – in God. In chapter one mission is rooted ontologically in God. The authors point out, “Communicating [God’s revelation] isn’t just something that God does; it is in his very nature. It’s who he is” (7). Because Christ is the Word of God, because He is begotten from the Father, He is the one who is sent from the Father. Before creation, God was planning for His love to be shared with creation, a love that has always existed for all eternity in the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Therefore, this book explains, “God’s mission in creation and redemption is to bring men and women into the fellowship that Father, Son, and Spirit have always shared” (11). Chapter two explains that the revealing of this love is the glory of God and is fully expressed in the Son, making mission about offering Christ – the full expression of God’s glory – to a lost world. Chapters three through five show how this revelation of God’s love through the Son is expressed in Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation the mission of God has remained the same, to bring God’s children into fellowship with Him through the Son by the Spirit. In the end of time, the mission of God will culminate with the proclamation of God’s holiness and the praise of His name.

Chapter six focuses on the person of Christ and the unique role He plays in the mission. This chapter helps the reader see why salvation is only through Christ. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life (John 14:6). 

The history of mission is briefly analyzed in chapters seven through eight.  In chapter seven, four eras of history are covered including: the Roman Era (30-400), the Expansion Era (400-800), the Islamic Era (800-1200), and the Modern Era (1600-present). The authors reserve the Reformation Era for chapter eight in order to explore how the recovery of theological truth in the Reformation unleashed “the churches for passionate mission” (73).

Finally, in the last four chapters, the missionary task, the mission of the church, and the global church are addressed. In chapter nine, the missionary task is not rooted in an individual task, but the task of the church. They explain, “The task of the church is an activity: evangelism leading to discipleship leading to church planting. It has a scope: all nations. It was a time frame: until the end of the age” (84). The authors clarify that “all nations” mean different people groups, not different contemporary nations, which was first suggested during the Lausanne Congress in 1974. In chapter ten, the mission of the church is gospel proclamation, which is primary for mission. Chapter eleven looks at ministries of mercy as the mission of the church. The authors argue, Christians must be involved in loving the poor and needy and may do ministries of mercy while proclaiming the gospel. They explain, “Ministry to orphans is in the ‘may’ not ‘must’ category – even though for the believer, looking after orphans (in one way or another) is a ‘must’” (106). Chapter twelve concludes by looking at God as the global God with a global gospel for a global church. 

There are two reasons why this book stands out among other missiological books: (1) It is theologically sound and theologically driven – it shows how all theology should be about mission and (2) it is concise and easy to read, making it accessible for any reader. It is difficult many times for a book to be both theologically engaging while also being easy to read and concise. 

First, it is theologically sound and theologically driven because of where the authors begin the book – by looking at God and how He reveals Himself to humanity. Careful readers will pick up the theological categories residing in the background of the text such as the immanent and economic Trinity, divine simplicity, divine appropriations, etc. God reveals Himself – as Father, Son, and Spirit through Himself – from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. In other words, the way God reveals Himself to humanity reveals to humanity what He is like. This is why the authors can say, “He acts to save because of what he is like. He will act to uphold his own self-giving character” (17). This means the mission of the church is the mission of God and the mission of God tells us what God is like. What is He like? He is an eternal and perfect fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit. This is why the mission of the church is to “bring men and women into the fellowship that Father, Son, and Spirit have always shared” (11).

Second, this book articulates this theological truth in an easy and understandable way. In fact, this book is one of the easiest books to read. All twelve chapters are short – each chapter is around 10 pages. In addition to the short chapters, the authors include Review and Preview paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter to help the reader easily follow along with the content. However, there is one obvious typo that can cause confusion for the reader. In chapter one, the authors reference Ephesians 1:3-10, but they mistakenly say Galatians instead of Ephesians (8). Besides this one mistake, this book is easy and enjoyable to read.

Besides these two observations, it is also worth noting that this book is unique in how it dedicates an entire chapter to the history of mission during the Reformation era. Most books pertaining to the history of mission will glaze over this era and focus on any of the other eras in church history. This book does the opposite in chapter eight, which proves to be an enlightening and edifying chapter.

This book is for anyone interested in mission. It is easily accessible and understandable for the beginner while also engaging and focused for those more familiar with the subject. Any pastor, lay leader, missionary, aspiring missionary, or average church-going will benefit from this book. 


Jacob C. Boyd
First Baptist Church of Springfield

Buy the books

COME AND SEE: A HISTORY AND THEOLOGY OF MISSION, by Glen Scrivener and Justin Schell

Union Publishing, 2022 | 130 pages

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