Reformed Reflections

The Planting and Development of Missionary Churches by Rev. John L. Nevius, D.D, published by the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Nutley, N.J.; pp. 92. J.

Dr. John Nevius (1829-1893) was asked by 7 young missionaries in Korea to give them 2 weeks of instruction in the missionary methods which he had propagated in a series of articles in the Chinese Recorder of 1895. To these two weeks of meetings and to the application of the principles set forth in a series of articles, later collected in this book of 92 pages, many missionaries in Korea attributed much of the growth of missionary work in that country. There were only 100 communicants at the time the principles were adopted. Today, there is a large, full-grown, self-propagating, and self-governing church in Korea.

But why reprint an old book? Our world has changed so very rapidly. Dr. Bruce F. Hunt, in his foreword, rightly says: "Dr. Nevius' principles are pertinent, challenging, and timely, rather than old-fashioned and out of date, as the time of their writing might indicate." Dr. Nevius' principles are "an attempt to fulfil our Lord's commission, not only to disciple all nations, but to teach the disciples all things, and to bring the gospel to bear on every phase of life." Furthermore, Dr. Nevius' scheme of starting from the very beginning to make the work self-propagating, self-governing and self-supporting are valid today.

The difficult question on the mission field always is: "When must the authority and financial burden be shifted from the Mission to the national church?" Dr. Nevius says: "I believe that the injudicious use of money and agencies depending on money have retarded and crimped our work and produced a less self-reliant and stalwart type of Christians than we otherwise should have had. I should exceedingly regret if the statement just made or any other statement in these letters should be understood or construed as intimating that the use of money in carrying on missionary work is not legitimate. In the nature of things pecuniary aid is an absolute necessity, not only for sending out and supporting well qualified and accredited missionaries, but also for hospital and dispensary work, for the preparation and dissemination of a Christian literature, for establishing higher institutions of learning and for furnishing, as needed, grant-in-aid for primary or preparatory schools. In supplying the funds thus required all Christians have the opportunity of sharing in the privileges and self-denials of the work of preaching the gospel to every creature. Far more money is needed for the actual demands of the work than has hitherto been given." (pg. 91)

Dr. Nevius' book is not just for missionaries or members of mission boards; it should be in the home of each church family as it deals with the work of the ministry, the exercise of congregational discipline, stewardship, new converts. I heartily recommend this little but well-written book.

Johan D, Tangelder