Book Review: When the Members Are the Missionaries

When the Members Are the Missionaries: An Extraordinary Calling for Ordinary People

by A. Wayne Schwab, Member Mission Press, 2002. 203 pp.

a book review by Evan Gel

Of course we all know that Jesus is as concerned about what we do from Monday through Saturday as what happens on Sunday.  He deeply cares about real people who have learned to see all of their life as a mission for Christ without becoming obnoxious.  Wayne Schwab has done his homework here with sound, Biblical theology and useful practical application.  He gives us the Biblical foundation for every church member becoming a missionary, illustrating with real-life experiences of fifteen particular individuals in as many different contexts.  Then he shows us through examples how to go about creating a church that sees its vision as preparing every member for their particular mission in the world in which they live and work and play.

This is not just a book about ideas and theories, but a practical, resourceful collection of probing questions and specific ways to help every church member to exercise their calling and specific mission every day in every area of life.

Schwab’s “daily mission fields” include the following:

  • Home: (family and/or close friends),
  • Work: (school and volunteer work),
  • Local Community: (neighborhood, town, or city),
  • Wider world: (society, culture, economy, government, or environment in country, state, nation or world),
  • Leisure or recreation: (any activity used to rest or refresh yourself) and
  • Church: both your own spiritual health (your inner life with God, including the maintenance of your physical and emotional health that supports your spirituality), and your share in church life and its outreach (your life in the congregation, district, or communion in the U.S. or worldwide church).

Personal spiritual growth, small group re-enforcement and accountability, worship and preaching that inspires every member to “just do it,” non-judgmental encouragement and support, leaders who lead, discovering mission fields…it’s all here, and more.  And it’s not from some theorist, but from an Episcopal pastor, and first evangelism staff officer of the Episcopal Church, who practices this in his ministry through the years of change and challenge.  From the first page to the last, this is a motivating, equipping book that won’t let you down, but will get you moving, and help you to get others to join you in what Christ has called us all to do and be…every day in every aspect of our lives.

The book is also enhanced by a guidebook available through

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Usually, we think of mission as ‘what the church does in the world.’  When we say ‘church,’ we usually mean the congregation or some larger church body.  We don’t think about what the individual members ‘do in the world’ as mission.  It is time to see what individual Christians do as mission.  When we do, we take a giant step from the past into a new reality of mission.”

“People who say they do not know where God is leading them or what God really wants them to do, often do not recognize God’s presence in what they want to do.  If what they want to do is an honorable, giving thing, then God is speaking to them.  God speaks to us very loudly and very strongly.”