Missional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out
Roger Helland and Leonard Hjalmarson
Missional Spirituality by Roger Helland and Leonard Hjalmarson came to me at just the right time. It brought together two ideas I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about and discussing with people.
The basic premise of the book is that “Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” Though there are many books written about either missional living or spiritual disciplines, few are so intentional about bringing the two together.
For these authors, the practice of spiritual disciplines is not for self improvement, but for “the sake of the world.” Missional Spirituality addresses one of the fundamental tensions some feel when thinking about being missional and caring for our neighbours. If we carry out social justice without a deeply spiritual relationship with God, we are simply a social club that does “nice” things. At the same time, if we take the words of the prophets and Jesus seriously, we cannot neglect the physical needs of our neighbours, only offering them “spiritual” food.
This book brings these two pieces together, pushing the reader to let missional living flow from private piety.
If I have one complaint, it’s that the authors introduce very few new ideas. Helland and Hjalmarson have pieced together so many ideas from other sources, it seems they missed the opportunity to add their own perspectives to the conversation. I would have enjoyed hearing more from the authors’ own perspectives, particularly since they write from a Canadian context.
For those who have read the likes of Alan Hirsch, Alan Roxburgh, N.T. Wright, and Dallas Willard, Missional Spirituality will not tell you anything you haven’t already heard. However, the strength of the book is the way in which it brings voices from different fields of study into fruitful conversation.
I believe it would be a great book to work through in a small group or as a church leadership team. Each chapter ends with suggested practices and discussion starters for an individual or group to work through.
Missional Spirituality is a book that deserves to be read, discussed, and lived out. If it is merely read and put on the shelf, it is – like spiritual disciplines – only doing half the job it was meant to do.