Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Missions Archive



January 2014



On Trying to be a Missional Family

Written by , Posted in Family, Ministry, Missions, Spirituality, Theology

The Finns want to be a missional family. Leah and I desire for our family ethos to reflect a key truth that is helpfully summarized in the “Missional Manifesto“: “God is a sending God, a missionary God, who has called His people, the church, to be missionary agents of His love and glory.” We want our words and deeds to point others to Christ. We want our family to be a lighthouse for the kingdom to our neighbors, friends and extended family.

In recent months, Leah and I have been talking more and more about practical ways that we can proclaim Christ, serve others and promote shalom in our context. We want to be good missional stewards of our blessings, including being a part of a thriving congregation that gathers in one of the most ethnically diverse and culturally eclectic cities in the South and being a part of a seminary community that is focused upon equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. Our current season in Jackson, Tennessee, where I am on sabbatical for six months, has proven to be a helpful time for us to reflect on how we can be more intentional in cultivating missional priorities upon our return to North Carolina this summer. We have loads of ideas, some of which might even come to fruition! But I thought I would share some of the initial steps we have begun to take.

First, like most Christian parents, we want to form our children in such a way that we point them to Christ and teach them a biblical worldview. But we also want to build mission into our family’s DNA so that, Lord willing, it one day carries over into each of our children’s spiritual DNA. I blogged several weeks back at Between the Times about how we are teaching our children to pray for the fulfillment of the Great Commission as part of our daily family worship time. We want the Finnlings to feel the burden of the world’s spiritual lostness, even as we pray that they would recognize their own lostness and need for the saving work of Jesus Christ in their own lives. Perhaps as they learn more and more about the world that God so loves, they will also come to understand his love for them and his desire that they be saved.

AnnieLottieJarMore recently, we have designated a mason jar to be our “Annie and Lottie Jar”  for missions. Like many Southern Baptist families, we give every year to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for global missions. But this has always been a decision that Leah and I make: “So, how much do we want to give this year?” But beginning with 2014, we want to also collect money year round in our Annie and Lottie Jar. Money collected between January and Easter will be added to our Annie Armstrong giving, while money collected between Easter and December will be added to our Lottie Moon giving. This will allow us to give more and also encourage the Finnlings to give toward Great Commission advance. You can see a picture of our Annie and Lottie Jar to the right.

Like many families, we have recently begun sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Our children were involved in this decision and are excited that the Lord will use our gifts to help with Sonjita’s education and physical health, introduce her to the gospel and sound biblical teaching and protect her from those who would exploit her in various ways. The latter is important because Sonjita lives in a nation where child slavery and human sex trafficking are perennial threats. As an added bonus, Sonjita is around the same age as our two oldest children, so they already feel a connection with her. We look forward to watching Sonjita grow up, from a distance, and we are eager to pray for her physical and ultimately spiritual wellbeing. (By the way, if you are skeptical of child-sponsorship ministries like Compassion International, I would recommend you read this helpful article from the June 2013 issue of Christianity Today.)

Lord willing, these are the first steps toward a much more intentionally missional lifestyle for our entire family. It is our hope that our family’s future is an increasingly missional future filled with regular gospel hospitality, family service projects, family mission trips, generous giving of time and resources (both planned and spontaneous) and ongoing evangelistic conversations with non-Christians. I’d love to hear from readers how the Lord is leading your family to live out a missional vision in your context.



December 2013





October 2013



What Does a Missional Spirituality Look Like?

Written by , Posted in Books, Culture, Ministry, Missions, Spirituality

Missional SpiritualityOver the past year, I’ve spent a good bit of my time thinking about the nature of evangelical and Baptist spirituality. In the coming months, I will probably share some of my reflections here and there on this blog. I’m not certain of what will ultimately comes from these musings, besides (I hope) my own spiritual growth and some material to pass on to my students and church members.

One of the more interesting books I’ve read recently is Missional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out (IVP, 2011).  The authors, Roger Helland and Len Hjalmarson, are Canadian evangelical leaders. Furthermore, Helland is a Baptist and Hjalmarson is a Mennonite, so these two brothers are uniquely positioned to think about missional spirituality from the perspective of low church, free church, baptistic evangelicals. While I don’t agree with all of their conclusions or emphases, I have found them to be helpful conversation partners as I have been pondering the relationship between spirituality and mission.

As I was thinking of the best way to mention Missional Spirituality on this blog, I came across a helpful summary of the book by Scot McKnight.  What follows is not a bulleted list excerpted from Helland and Hjalmarson, but rather McKnight’s summary of the emphases put forward in Missional Spirituality.

1) Practicing union with Christ: abiding in Christ is what discipleship is all about. Focus on John 15:1-17.

2) Practicing obedience: “the spiritual life is the surrendered life.”

3) Practicing humility.

4) Practicing missio reading and prayer. Not just prayer that fosters intimacy but prayer that fosters love for others, the Jesus Creed.

5) Practicing worship. The problem is defective views of God; we need an expansive sense of God’s grandeur and majesty and glory.

6) Practicing enchantment. Attentiveness to God’s handiwork.

7) Practicing Christ-mindedness.

8) Practicing faith-thinking. This is about theological reflection to learn to think our way into the goodness and glory of God and what God is doing in this world. Theological imagination can be developed.

9) Practicing gratitude.

10) Then a series on “From all your strength”: practicing treasure-talents-time, loving God from our treasure, loving God from our talents, and loving God from our time.

11) Practicing loving your neighbor: by practicing presence, by practicing refuge, and by practicing hospitality.

While I would perhaps tease out some of the details differently than the authors of Missional Spirituality (and McKnight), I think this list is a helpful starting place. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Missional Spirituality and give it a close read.



September 2013



Andrew Fuller in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology

Written by , Posted in History, Ministry, Missions, Theology

IMG_0792A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had published an article in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology titled “The Renaissance in Andrew Fuller Studies: A Bibliographic Essay.” My article is only one of several related to Fuller and his thought. The SBJT focused its Spring and Summer 2013 issues on the theme “The Life and Ministry of Andrew Fuller.” I have included the table of contents for the two issues below.lkjnm

Volume 17, Number 1 (Spring 2013)

Editorial: Stephen J. Wellum, “Learning from the Life and Ministry of Andrew Fuller” (pp. 2-3)

Peter J. Morden, “‘So Valuable a Life’: A Biographical Sketch of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)” (pp. 4-14)

Paul Brewster, “‘The Utterance of a Full Heart’: The Pastoral Wisdom of Andrew Fuller” (pp. 16-26)

Matthew Haste, “Marriage and Family in the Life of Andrew Fuller” (pp. 28-34)

Andrew Fuller, edited by Michael A. G. Haykin, “The promise of the Spirit, the grand encouragement in promoting the Gospel: a circular letter to the churches of the Northamptonshire Baptist Association (June 1810)” (pp. 36-41)

Michael A. G. Haykin, “‘Very Affecting and Evangelical’: A Review of Keith S. Grant, Andrew Fuller and the Evangelical Renewal of Pastoral Theology” (pp. 42-45)

The SBJT Forum: Michael A. G. Haykin, David Bebbington, David L. Allen, Ian Hugh Clary, Chris Chun (pp. 46-52)

Volume 17, Number 2 (Summer 2013)

Editorial: Stephen J. Wellum, “Continuing to Learn from Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)” (pp. 2-3)

Michael A. G. Haykin, “‘To Devote Ourselves to the Blessed Trinity’: Andrew Fuller and the Defense of ‘Trinitarian Communities'” (pp. 4-19)

Thomas J. Nettles, “The Passion and Doctrine of Andrew Fuller in The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation” (pp. 20-42)

Nathan A. Finn, “The Renaissance in Andrew Fuller Studies: A Bibliographic Essay” (pp. 44-61)

Andrew Fuller, edited by Michael A. G. Haykin, “Confession of Faith I” (pp. 62-66)

Andrew Fuller, edited and introduced by Michael A. G. Haykin, “The Admission of unbaptized Persons to the Lord’s Supper inconsistent with the New Testament” (pp. 68-76)

The SBJT Forum: Nigel David Wheeler, Brian Albert, Dustin W. Benge, Josh Monroe, Ryan Hoselton (pp. 78-83)



August 2013



Seminar on Andrew Fuller’s Theology

Written by , Posted in History, Ministry, Missions, Theology

41Yg5kJfHJL._SY346_This semester, I’m teaching a course titled “Seminar on a Selected Theologian: Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)” in the Ph.D. program at Southeastern Seminary. I have eight students in the seminar, including majors in systematic theology, church history, ethics, and New Testament. While I have taught an M.Div. elective on Fuller’s theology, this is the first time I’ve taught a doctoral seminar on the topic.

During the semester, we will read numerous primary sources from The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller. Many of these writings will be Fuller’s major writings on topics such as Calvinism, evangelism and missions, justification, faith, and the deity and exclusivity of Christ. We will also read three scholarly books that address Fuller and this thought: Michael Haykin’s edited volume At The Pure Fountain of Thy Word: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist (Paternoster, 2003); Peter Morden’s Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) and the Revival of Eighteen-Century Particular Baptist Life (Paternoster, 2004); Keith Grant’s Andrew Fuller and the Evangelical Renewal of Pastoral Theology (Paternoster, 2013). In addition to primary sources and books, we will also read over two dozen scholarly journal articles and individual book chapters by authors such as Haykin, Morden, Chris Chun, Paul Brewster, Peter Beck, Carl Trueman, Timothy George, Tom Nettles, and myself, among others.

I’m very excited about the seminar and am praying for a fruitful semester discussing Andrew Fuller’s thought and its ongoing legacy among Baptist Christians.