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Mission Affirmed: Recovering the Missionary Motivation of Paul (Clark)

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What will it take to accomplish Christ’s mission in our lifetime?

That’s the question evangelicals have been asking for over a century, but our efforts to reach the unreached and finish the task have often sacrificed the important for the immediate. The greatest challenge in evangelical missions isn’t a lack of urgency, but a lack of discernment. As we’ve prioritized movements that are simple and reproducible, the gospel and faithful churches are now threatened. Our mission itself could be disqualified.

In Mission Affirmed, Elliot Clark seeks to reshape our motivation by considering the example of Paul the missionary. The desire for God’s approval is what formed his ambition and directed his methods, and it should guide ours too. In these pages, we rediscover how pursuing God’s praise can both motivate and regulate our gospel ministries. We also refocus—as missionaries, pastors, churches, and individuals—on what matters more than a mission accomplished: a mission God affirms.

Read Chapter 1


Table of Contents:

Introduction: More Than Mission Accomplished

Chapter 1: Seeking God’s Approval
Chapter 2: Suffering with Christ
Chapter 3: Sending and Being Sent
Chapter 4: Seeing the Invisible
Chapter 5: Speaking the Truth Sincerely
Chapter 6: Setting Boundaries
Chapter 7: Sacrificing Like the Savior
Chapter 8: Serving Christ and Stewarding the Gospel

Appendix: Questions for Churches to Ask a Missionary Candidate



Elliot Clark (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lived in Central Asia among an unreached people group where he served as a cross-cultural church planter along with his wife and children. He currently works with Training Leaders International, equipping indigenous church leaders overseas and diaspora pastors within the US.



“Clark calls missionaries and the churches that support them to faithful ministry that looks to God’s approval and to the reward God gives. We are so quick to live for the praise of people instead of the praise of God. Clark also corrects the idea that Paul invariably planted churches and then moved quickly on to the next field. Instead, we see that Paul continued to labor and work with churches so that they were established in truth. I would love to see every missionary and every church sending and supporting missionaries (which should be all churches!) read this book.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Mission Affirmed is immensely practical, challenging, accessible, and hopeful. It is a call to be more thoroughly and thoughtfully biblical about why we do the things we do in missions. All of us— whether pastors or church members, goers or senders—could all benefit from this insightful book.”
Gloria Furman, author, Missional Motherhood; coeditor, Joyfully Spreading the Word

“The greatest dangers facing the church are internal, but they’re not always obvious. In Mission Affirmed, Elliot Clark reminds us of an unnoticed, even celebrated, danger undermining our mission—the lure of selfish motivations and worldly means to accomplish the Great Commission. Instead, Clark argues, we must embrace Paul’s eschatological motivation. Paul’s longing to be approved by God on the last day fueled his missionary desire and guided his missiological methods. By recovering Paul’s motivation for missions, we, too, will long to please the God who has already accepted us in Christ by his grace, and we will eschew the praise of others. Churches, pastors, Christians, missionaries, sending agencies—we all need this vital reminder.”
Juan Sanchez, Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas; author, The Leadership Formula

“Elliot Clark is unafraid to poke at sleeping bears in the world of missions. Are current mission movements biblical? Should we translate the Bible so that it is more palatable to those of other faiths? Are sending churches scrupulous about those they send? For answers, Clark looks to missiologists, missionaries old and new, and his own personal examples, but most of all, thankfully, Clark zeroes in on the apostle Paul and his work in the early church. From Paul’s examples, Clark issues both warnings and helpful corrections so that we will not be disqualified as we run the race of missions.”
J. Mack Stiles, missionary and former pastor in the Middle East; author, Evangelism