Living Sent by Justin Wester - Book Review
It is not every day that you have the privilege of reviewing a book written by a friend. Justin Wester and I have been friends since 2013. We found ourselves in seminary and working together in the Center for Ministry Training (CMT) at Liberty University.
It was a unique department at LU, the staff really developed a sense of camaraderie. Our goal was to mobilize students on campus for mission for Jesus. We did this locally through Campus Serve, a weekly service-driven outreach in Lynchburg, Virginia in which several hundred students participated, various internships, and also through up to 16 domestic mission trips per year (we called them Ministry Exposure Trips). As a team, we also did book studies and talked about theology, the Christian life, the nature of the church, and of course missional living. These hours of shenanigans (see us both in the Liberty University Homecoming Parade CMT Float to the right), discussions, and doing ministry in the trenches together were formative for all of us and in reading Justin's latest work Living Sent: Discover How Everyday Habits Make an Eternal Difference Justin gave me a heavy dose of nostalgia of those fruitful years in the CMT.
Justin Wester gives the church a practical tool for living missionally in a Post-Christian context. Founding his argument in Scripture and the way of Jesus, he shows how since the 1st century the strategy has never changed for having a spiritual impact on those around us. Justin establishes our identity and calling as missionaries. He writes,
"The Scriptures make no distinction between your identity as a Christ follower and your identity as a missionary. They are one and the same." (19)
Throughout the book Justin blends a healthy portion of personal storytelling, making it real, and Biblical exposition, establishing the Scriptural basis for his argument. Perhaps the most helpful tool to emerge from Justin's work is his acrostic "SENT" which gives us a roadmap for living missionally.
- See People Like Jesus
- Eat with People Like Jesus
- Neighbor People Like Jesus
- Talk with People about Jesus
Justin traces God's sending plan through redemption history and reveals that from Genesis to Jesus and now through the church God's plan has always been SENDING His people to carry His name for His fame. He then challenges the church, THE PEOPLE, to instill a culture of missional living in their lives. He argues,
If our only "Christian" habits are going to church services on Sundays and saying "grace" before meals, how will the world come to know the Good News of the gospel? (48)
He walks through the SENT acrostic showing from Jesus' life and ministry and the New Testament's teaching that this way of living is not optional for the follower of Jesus, indeed, it is essential if the church is to fulfill the Great Commission. He summarizes that to be SENT is simply to "take your normal, everyday routine...and infuse it with gospel intentionality" (93).
Probably the best chapter is Justin's discussion of how to talk with people about Jesus. He shares how framing the gospel in a redemption history or "story" context will prove more effective in a Post-Christian culture. He is spot on. As he says,
"We live in a post-Christian context in which the majority of people do not adhere to a Biblical worldview, regularly attend a church, read the Bible, or want to associate with any religion." (140)
How then can we share Jesus? It is as simple as being S.E.N.T.
All in all, Justin Wester's book is an effective tool to put in your Tool Belt for missional living. His "Questions to Consider" at the end of each chapter and an included six-week Small Group Guide make it all the more helpful for pastors, lay-leaders, or any follower of Jesus. Go get yourself one!