What does Love Without Walls (Laurie Beshore, Zondervan, 2012) promise?
In 150 pages Laurie Beshore writes about her personal experience in founding and leading the outreach ministry arm of Mariners Church in Orange County, California, USA.
Beshore aims to provide a book about “what not to do in ministry… figuring out how to love the hurting, needy people in our communities’.
The ministries dealt with in the book are those which relate to community service, that which is also known as social mission.
What I liked.
As mentioned above, the book outlines with great humility the ways in which mercy ministry can fail.
While notions about the difference between being a rescuer or a servant, or allowing system and process to become the goal instead of relationships may seem straight forward, the stories in Love Without Walls gently serve to remind how easy it can be for good intentions to go wrong.
It won’t come as a great surprise for readers outside the USA to read of the ground shaking notion that the rest of the world thinks that Americans consider themselves God’s answer to every problem in the world, but Beshore’s grace in the way in which that observation was assimilated into Mariners’ ministry philosophy is helpful to those of us from the West who are seeking to truly partner with churches in other cultures.
There is a consistent demonstration that the Gospel motivated desire to serve and minister among and with people is an effective means to gain an audience for the communication of the Gospel’s content.
What I’m not sure about.
The sheer size and scope of Mariners’ social mission work is bewildering.
For a small church the principles are sound, the examples seem daunting.
The differences in the provision of social services in a place like Australia need some reflection as to how these sorts of activities can best be translated.
I’d like to see some of the biblical underpinnings for the contention that the work of the church, empowered by the Gospel in this current age, is to effect the redemption and restoration of all creation. (pg 139) I accept social mission is an integral aspect of Christian life, I don’t know that it’s part of our great commission.

As an encouragement to remember that if social mission is seen as an end in itself it will soon stray from Gospel centered service and compassion, Love Without Walls is a short, effective, and engaging read. It is a helpful and practical resource for Christians thinking about how to engage either their own communities or cross-cultural situations for Gospel opportunities. For whatever it’s worth, my wife has also been reading it and said it was a good book.

The review copy of Love Without Walls was provided by Zondervan Publishers’ Engaging Church Blog as part of their Love Without Walls blog tour.
Provision of the book did not require the publication of a positive review.

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