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No Shortcut to Success: A Manifesto for Modern Missions

By Matt Rhodes, Foreword by Mark Dever

... Show All

No Shortcut to Success: A Manifesto for Modern Missions

By Matt Rhodes, Foreword by Mark Dever

... Show All

Avoid “Get-Rich-Quick” Missions Strategies and Invest in Effective, Long-Term Ministry

Trendy new missions strategies are a dime a dozen, promising missionaries monumental results in record time. These strategies report explosive movements of people turning to Christ, but their claims are often dubious and they do little to ensure the health of believers or churches that remain. How can churches and missionaries address the urgent need to reach unreached people without falling for quick fixes?

In No Shortcut to Success, author and missionary Matt Rhodes implores Christians to stop chasing silver-bullet strategies and short-term missions, and instead embrace theologically robust and historically demonstrated methods of evangelism and discipleship—the same ones used by historic figures such as William Carey and Adoniram Judson. These great missionaries didn’t rush evangelism; they spent time studying Scripture, mastering foreign languages, and building long-term relationships. Rhodes explains that modern missionaries’ emphasis on minimal training and quick conversions can result in slipshod evangelism that harms the communities they intend to help. He also warns against underestimating the value of individual skill and effort—under the guise of “getting out of the Lord’s way”—and empowers Christians with practical, biblical steps to proactively engage unreached groups.

Read Chapter 1


Matt Rhodes

Matt Rhodes grew up in San Diego, California, and has lived in North Africa since 2011. He and his wife, Kim, serve as part of a church-planting team to a previously unengaged people group.

Product Details

Title: No Shortcut to Success
Subtitle: A Manifesto for Modern Missions
Published: February 15, 2022
ISBN-10: 1-4335-7775-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-7775-8
Category: Evangelism & Missions
Retail Price: $19.99
Binding: Paperback
Trim: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Page Count: 272

Table of Contents

Small Beginnings (Zechariah’s Hymn)        
Foreword by Mark Dever
Series Preface

Introduction: The “New Missions”

Part 1: Where Shortcuts Have Led Us: Surveying the Problem   
Chapter 1: Professionalism and the Use of “Means”
Chapter 2: Movements and Rumors of Movements  
Chapter 3: In the Scales of the Scriptures     

Part 2: Correcting Our Course
Chapter 4: Ambassadors for Christ   
Chapter 5: New Testament Missionary Communication       
Chapter 6: Communicating Clearly Today      
Chapter 7: Credibility and Boldness Today    
Chapter 8: A Long-Term Path for Missionaries
Chapter 9: Equipping and Sending    
Chapter 10: Work and the Holy Spirit

Conclusion: Words from William Carey
General Index
Scripture Index




No Shortcut to Success tells it like it is. Rhodes is correct that there are too many ‘shortcut hopefuls’ with simplistic formulas that promise less time and effort with guaranteed results. His view from the field is of a journeyman in the trenches, crying out for would-be disciple makers and church planters (particularly among Muslims) to get real, count the cost, and be ready to pay it!”
Greg Livingstone, Founder, Frontiers

“I love this book! Some people will find it disturbing, but Rhodes does not provoke for provocation’s sake. His key ideas challenge many core presuppositions that underlie modern missions. He says, ‘The Protestant missionary enterprise was born when William Carey wrote of our obligation to use “means” to lead people to Christ. Today, as in Carey’s day, the “means” are in danger of being despised.’ While critical of popular contemporary shortcuts to ministry, Rhodes’s proposal is careful and constructive. His practical suggestions deserve serious consideration. Even if one disagrees with Rhodes, this book will sharpen our thinking about missions practice. The church desperately needs to read this book.”
Jackson Wu, Professor of Theology, ‎International Chinese Theological Seminary; Editor, Themelios

“I am extremely grateful for this honest, commonsense, reasonable, and respectful response to current trends at play among us who labor tirelessly in the unreached regions. This book is not for the faint of heart or the ‘weekend warrior missionary,’ but for the bold and courageous. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow our Savior deeply into the lives and societies of the unreached. Maybe, like me, some who are a bit weary from the ‘long approach’ will find refreshment herein to quicken their pace and catch a second wind. Please, I beckon you, whoever you are, to consider deeply the contents of this book. Let us wrestle deeply with each one of the issues Rhodes has addressed. Why? Unreached people’s very salvation is at stake!”
Matt Arnold, church planter; Missionary Trainer, Ethnos360

“Never have I read such a timely book on the imperative of global outreach. Currently there are countless moving parts in mission strategies and Rhodes has examined many of these through a biblical lens that ultimately brings the reader back to the wonderful basics. He illustrates that the foundation of missions has historically been commitment to gaining fluency in both culture and language. Rather than proposing a ‘silver bullet’ approach, he calls us back to the hard work of being professional ambassadors of the gospel. I hope this book will be read by all those contemplating missionary service and those in leadership, in sending churches and mission organizations alike.”
Mark Dalton, Director of Missions, Shadow Mountain Community Church

“For years I’ve been asked, ‘What can I read to get a balanced view of the radical changes happening in missions today?’ No Shortcut to Success is an indispensable tool, not only addressing destructive trends in today’s missiology, but also making a persuasive, scriptural case for historic methods and values that have been set aside. For those wanting solid, well-researched data and biblically sound principles that allow us to evaluate today’s methods, this book is a vital resource.”
Brad Buser, church planter, Southeast Asia; Founder, Radius International

“New missions (like Narcissus of old) has become so enamored with its own image that it struggles to see beyond itself. To any who believe that modern missions has had the last word, No Shortcut to Success is a merciful wake-up call, taking us back to the first words of Scripture and the sound wisdom of generations of missionary endeavors. With thoroughness and thoughtfulness, each chapter explores and critiques current trends in missions, but rather than promoting yet another new strategy, it instead urges a return to the solid foundation of biblical and historical mission. This is one of those books you must read slowly, with pen in hand, as each page proves to be both provoking and refreshing, sobering and heartening, challenging and encouraging.”
Jacob Edwards, church planting team leader, North Africa

“In a day when there are so many voices advocating for new methods and what can appear to be formulaic approaches to ministry among the unreached, I find Rhodes’s book to be full of helpful corrections. I especially appreciate his clarification on our role as ambassadors for the King. I believe he is spot-on in calling us to clarity, credibility, and boldness in our communication. I hope that all those aspiring to be a part of what God is doing cross-culturally in our day will read and heed the encouragement to approach the task of proclaiming Jesus seriously and with great care and preparation.”
Dave Myers, global pastor, Chicago, Illinois

“Matt Rhodes has stated very clearly that there truly is ‘no shortcut to success.’ It takes time and involvement for an extended period to learn another culture, including another language. We don’t all learn at the same pace, but it is necessary for missionary church planters to go through the learning process in order to communicate the message of the gospel with clarity and understanding. The Holy Spirit, in creating understanding, does not bypass the process. I commend No Shortcut to Success to you as a critical component in the process of evangelizing and planting churches among unreached peoples.”
Gary Coombs, Missions Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church; President, Southern California Seminary

“Biblical, wise, encouraging, and practical. This combination of adjectives is rarely apropos to a contemporary book on missions. From the deft hand of a current practitioner in the field, we have been given a gift of clear biblical thinking regarding Christ’s mission for his church and the way sacred Scripture prescribes for fulfilling it. I look forward to getting this book into the hands of pastors, missions committees, and missions candidates.”
Chad Vegas, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church; Founding Board Chairman, Radius International

“Rarely does a person agree with every point in a book, and this book is no different. What is different about this book is the call back to the Scriptures and away from the fad and allure of new things in missions. Rhodes pushes us to consider the mundane, ordinary, and hard work of missionary efforts. We can no longer trust in shiny, new, quick fixes if the 3.1 billion unreached people are going to be truly reached by the powerful gospel of Jesus. We need people with grit and perseverance who will see his kingdom come and his will be done. No Shortcut to Success is that herald in the wilderness of missions strategy, calling people to not despise the small beginnings. To do the long, hard work of seeing the church planted among the unreached. If you are in the vicinity of missions, you should read this book.”
Justin Raby, Campus Pastor, South Overland Park Campus; Director of Mobilization, Campus Support

“I deeply enjoyed reading this short but very informative book from a current frontline practitioner. Missions, and its ever-changing terminology, can feel inaccessible to the average layperson, but this is a great resource to help them understand what is being said in the current missions discussion. Filled with history and wisdom from the likes of Paton, Judson, Taylor, and Carey, this book is a must-read not only for lay people but also for pastors, missions pastors, and anyone involved in the Great Commission.”
Brooks Buser, President, Radius International