Book Review | Missional Motherhood

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God
by Gloria Furman

In her book Missional Motherhood, Gloria Furman says there’s never such a thing as “just” a mom.  She writes about how God has designed motherhood as part of his greater plan to draw people to himself.missional motherhood

I was so excited to read this book!  I was expecting perhaps a study on motherhood in Scripture, perhaps even specific moms who effectively pointed their children to the gospel, salvation and Christ.  She could have studied Hannah and her prayers for her child, or Mary’s love of Scripture, or Lois and Eunice passing on a heritage of faith.  Or, I thought perhaps she would give a reminder of the spiritual importance of motherhood and then give biblical and practical ways to build into our children spiritually, to do so much more than meet their physical needs and make it through the day with our sanity more or less intact.   Any of these would have been such a great book idea, so needed, so powerful, so encouraging!

But that’s not what this book is at all.  And, if like me, you expected this book to really dig deep into motherhood itself, you might be surprised by it also.  The first half of this book is simply a metanarrative of Scripture.  Now, if you really are interested and looking for a brief overview of the Old Testament, go for it!  This book is exactly what you’re looking for !

I wasn’t expecting or wanting a biblical survey, though,and I didn’t need an overview of the Old Testament.   I would have been okay with it if the overview was particularly insightful or fresh or if she made incredible connections to mothering in Scripture and God’s big design (like the book title implies).  But that wasn’t true here. To be clear, I was not expecting “fluff” or a meaningless pep talk about being a good mom and how what I do has value. I was looking for so much more than that. As I was reading and feeling disappointed, though, I kept thinking, “maybe I just don’t understand her point…” but I did understand it!  She wanted to fit motherhood into the grand vision of Scripture, but she got so wrapped up in the grand story of Scripture that she failed to connect the motherhood part.  She made occasional, brief mentions of parenting and periodic asides with some quick thoughts that ended up feeling disjointed and like an awkward fit.

Also, while giving her “flyover” (as she calls it) of the Old Testament narrative, she would occasionally begin an account and then say, “You know the rest of the story.”  Well, actually, yes, I did know the rest of the story and was happy she cut it short.  But that’s because I didn’t really need an Old Testament overview and would have been quite happy if she’d cut the entire first part of the book.  On the other hand, women who would need an Old Testament review and might like her Part I, would actually need to be told the whole story. I’ve heard readers complain often about authors who say things like, “You know how the story goes…” and make assumptions that aren’t fair and leave the reader feeling judged and confused.   It’s really a matter of identifying your audience and making sure the book content fits what the audience needs. Either her audience needed to be told the biblical stories (in which case they needed the whole story) or they didn’t need the overview at all (in which case Part I was unnecessary).

I also didn’t love how she constantly writes, “I’ll talk about that in Part II” or “In Part I, I’m writing about…”  Personally, I prefer a writer to just write with clarity and power and let the language and the organization of the content stand on its own.

How you feel about this book probably depends so much on what you are expecting.  I would have preferred if her editor helped the author a bit by suggesting that Part I either needed to point more consistently to mothering or it needed to be left out.  Then she could have worked on digging deeper on the content in Part II and actually connecting it more with everyday motherhood as the title suggests.  She could have gotten practical.  She could have shown what missional motherhood actually looks like.  She could have studied mothers in Scripture.  In the introduction, Furman tells the reader that she’s not going to provide practical application.  She leaves that up to the reader.  Maybe if she had focused more on the book’s suggested topic instead of surveying the Old Testament, she could have built the application into the book that I felt it truly needed.

Plenty of other books tell you straight out that they are connecting the dots of Scripture’s story and do that well ( Seamless by Angie Smith comes to mind).   If that’s what Furman wanted to do, then the book’s title and marketing could have reflected that better so readers would know what to expect.  On the other hand, there are so many other books that give motherhood a biblical context and give you practical and spiritually-rooted ideas and encouragements (I’m thinking any book by Sally Clarkson, for example).  So many other books can remind moms of their powerful mission to root their children in the gospel and then send them out to share Christ with the world.  This book isn’t that.

I think the best advice about this book is just to know what to expect.  Looking for an overview of the Old Testament?  Great!  Read this book!  Looking for a study on God’s design for motherhood and how we can effectively parent with the gospel in mind?  Maybe find another book to read.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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