I was looking forward to reading his newest book, "The Nehemiah Factor: 16 Characteristics of a Missional Leader," as this was the first book I have read by him. The word missional is becoming a bit of a buzz word these days. It seems like everybody is using it. Page describes the word as involves "a way of looking at Christianity that integrates concern for both evangelism and social ministries. It is a kind of acting out of the faith in daily life. The word encompasses much of what Christian have simply thought of in the past as living out the Christian life." (19)
The point of the missional movement is the realization that Christians are not only to believe the right things, but do the right things. Christianity is both a noun and a verb and we have a responsibly to fulfill both. That is the real advantage of reading someone like Paige talk about being missional. Some emphasize the verb aspect and ignore the noun, whereas some emphasize the noun aspect and ignore the verb. Paige seeks to balance both.
His book is primarily (as the subtitle suggests) about what a missional leader looks like. There are 16 chapters that lay out 16 characteristics of the missional leader. These characteristics include: godly character, called, Christlike, prayer warrior (my words) a team worker, has integrity, able to manage conflict, courageous, committed, and accountable, just to name a few.
The book centers around the Old Testament character of Nehemiah who helps the Jews return to their homeland with the permission of the Persians after spending 70 years in captivity under Babylon. Paige sees Nehemiah as an excellent example of what it means to be a missional leader.
The book overall is fairly straightforward. The author offers a number personal stories and experiences mixed with Biblical exegesis from Nehemiah and other biblical texts, and applies them directly to the reader. Each characteristics serve as "must-haves" for the missional leader. If we want to be faithful to Christ, the Great Commission, the church, to the lost, and to each other, we must have these characteristics.
As a pastor, I found this book helpful for he is primarily speaking to persons like myself. Am I accountable? Am I courageous? Am I committed? How do I handle conflict? How to I manage my time? Throughout the book I felt as if the author was writing directly to me and kicking me in the gut. Paige reminded me that I have a lot to learn.
So to answer the question, would I recommend this book, and to who? I would say yes. I would recommend this book because it is practical, yet faithful to Scripture. Pastors need to heed his words, church leaders need his insight, and church members need to realize their call to be as missional as their spiritual leaders. This book can be read by anybody with the realization that Page is a pastor writing about leadership. We are all to be missional, but not all of us have leadership roles.
But there are a few areas of concern I had regarding this book. The first concern regards a distraction. I said at the beginning that Page managed to cool the fires over the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism as President of the Convention, but in this book, he just couldn't resist the bait. Early on, Page raises the issues of election and limited atonement and clearly comes down on the Arminian side. I have no problem with that (though I may disagree), but I felt that it distracted from the point he was trying to make. Did he really need to raise the issue? I fear that many (regardless of where they fall on the debate) will be distracted by him raising this issue in this book. Some will close the book and walk away needlessly, while others will simply count Paige as one of their own. One can be missional, and must be missional, regardless of what one believes about predestination or the extent of the atonement.
Another problem I had was the small amount of space in each chapter dedicated to Nehemiah. From the books title (which I like), I was under the impression that the majority of the book would be about Nehemiah. I thought the author would spend the majority of his time discussing the context, the background, the characters, the significance of various events, etc. from Nehemiah. Instead, the author would quote the book and then briefly explain what was happening and then use it as a launch pad into his discussions. It was great that he revealed the uniformity of Scripture, but I wish the "Nehemiah Factor" had more to say about Nehemiah.
Overall, this is a wonderful book. It is simple, straightforward, and honest. Page has been there before. Page has experienced the life of a missional leader and has the authority to speak on these issues. It is nice to see someone promoting missional ministry without compromising the gospel. The question is, will be be missional leaders, or will we simply put this book back on our shelf?
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