When Accidental Missionary by Steve Murrell (Published by Every Nation Productions, 2010) serendipitously showed up at my house I thought it would be a book that I would never read if I were pastoring in the States. You know how it is – too many books, not enough time.
After I got about twenty pages into the book, I cleared my calendar for the day and settled in. That day, like a lot of days, I was glad to be in Portugal. What I discovered in this little yellow hardcover with no dust sleeve was a hidden treasure.
It’s the kind of book that you finish and immediately want to start reading again.
The bio on Murrell’s website tells us this about him:
Steve and Deborah went to the Philippines in 1984 for a “one month” summer mission trip that never ended.
They are the founding pastors of Victory Manila, one church that meets in 14 locations in Metro Manila and has planted churches in 60 Philippine cities and twenty nations. Currently, Victory has over 7,500 discipleship groups that meet in coffee shops, offices, dormitories, and homes in Metro Manila.
Steve is cofounder and president of Every Nation Churches & Ministries, a family of churches focused on church planting, campus ministry, and world mission.
Complete with solid personal testimonies and timely anecdotal sketches, Accidental Missionary sets out to inspire you to do four things:
…compassionately engage your community, intentionally establish biblical foundations, strategically equip believers, and constantly empower disciples.
Arriving in the Philippines with little experience no cross-cultural training, Murrell with his wife Deborah and their colleagues through trial and error reached the conclusion that through what he calls these “same old boring strokes” (engage, establish, equip, and empower) we make disciples and Jesus builds the church.
It’s that simple. We are commanded to make disciples. Jesus said he would build his church. So, let’s stop trying to build the church and start making disciples.
Writing transparently and humbly, Murrell tells you that he’s not a dynamic evangelist. Throughout the book he highlights his mistakes and gives credit to others for whatever success the ministry has achieved.
Of a transitional period in their ministry when they began to adopt a serious disciple making strategy he says this:
For almost two years we said almost nothing from the pulpit about the change. All of our pastors and staff simply started making disciples in small groups. When someone would hear about a small group and ask if they could join one, we would tell them, ‘No, you can’t join one, but if you will gather three church friends and three unchurched friends, we will teach you how to lead one. When would you like to start?’
In the book he defines discipleship and doesn’t seek to divide it from evangelism, uses Scripture as proof for what he teaches, and most importantly for me speaks wisely and intelligently about the danger of adopting ready-made programs versus applying biblical principles in a proper cultural context.
At one point, answering the doubts of Ferdie, a young man who got saved three days earlier, about whether he was or wasn’t ready to disciple a friend who just got saved that day, Murrell offer this exchange,
…Remember I told you to read the book of Mark? How far have you read? Ferdie eagerly replied, ‘I’ve already finished Mark, and I’m almost finished with Luke.’ Then I told him what has become a constantly repeated Victory saying, ‘Just stay one chapter ahead. As long as you stay one chapter ahead you can disciple him, but if he passes you, then he will disciple you.
Accidental Missionary is simple, unpretentious, yet deserves to be called no less than brilliant.
The only negative thing that I found while reading reading Murrell’s book? Like a hidden treasure, it’s apparently difficult to find. Amazon doesn’t carry it, and a Google search turns up little to nothing about the book.
So, if it ever just appears at your house, like it did mine…clear your calendar and start reading, now.
Update, apparently the title of the book has been changed to WikiChurch. I cannot verify if the content is the same.