Exiles on Mission

How Christians Can Thrive in a Post-Christian World

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Many Christians in the West sense that traditional Christian teaching is losing traction in the public square. What does faithful Christian witness look like in a post-Christian culture?

Paul Williams, the CEO of one of the world's largest and oldest Bible societies, interprets the dissonance Christians often experience while trying to live out their faith in the twenty-first century. He provides constructive tools to help readers understand culture in myriad contexts and offer a missional response. Williams calls for a truly missional understanding of post-Christendom Christianity whereby local churches are reimagined as embassies of the kingdom of God and Christians serve as ambassadors in all spheres of life and work.

This book invites readers to embrace the language of exile and imagine a hopeful mission of the scattered and gathered church in the post-Christian West. It shows a clear pathway for fruitful missional engagement for the whole people of God, helping Christians make sense of the world in which they live, more authentically integrate faith with everyday life, and orient all of their efforts within God's missional purpose for the world.


Prologue: Longing and Shame
Part 1: Enduring Faith: Christians and the Contemporary World
1. The Legacy of Modernity
2. Are We in Exile?
3. Two Temptations
4. Judgment and Mission
Part 2: Fostering Hope: From Alien to Ambassador
5. Learning to Lament
6. Calling, Citizenship, and Commission
7. Establish an Embassy
8. Know the Mission
Part 3: Ambassadors of Love: Exiles on Mission
9. Learn the Language
10. Stories of the West
11. Cultural Translation
12. Pilgrimage: A Way of Being


"Paul Williams's new book comes at a most important time, when orthodox Protestant believers in particular are struggling. In some ways it is the age-old problem of how to relate Christianity to culture, but in other ways we are faced with some unique challenges--namely, how to engage not merely a pre-Christian or a non-Christian but a post-Christian society. Paul's book helps us avoid the twin dangers of being too at home in or too withdrawn from our culture. We are exiles, but exiles on mission. Highly recommended."

Tim Keller, pastor emeritus, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

"Paul Williams wants church leaders to prepare marketplace congregants for fruitful, faithful engagement in contemporary culture marked by three all-too-rare characteristics: the emotional maturity for coping with our status as exiles, the spiritual rootedness required for eschewing comfortable assimilation, and the deep understanding of our culture's beliefs, values, motivations, affections, and rituals that will enable our witness to 'translate' to nonbelieving neighbors and coworkers. Exiles on Mission calls us to a far deeper and more intentional discipleship and provides fresh insights and tools for that journey."

Amy L. Sherman, author, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

"Williams got my attention in chapter 1: 'The missional-church and faith-at-work movements are the most positive responses yet to our contemporary crisis [the decline of the Western church]. . . . Unfortunately, though, they remain largely separate discourses and activities.' Exiles on Mission is a passionate plea to rethink our calling as the people of the church, 'sent' by God into every sphere of our society as we go about our daily work. Williams presents a clear picture of God's intent and power, a radical rethinking of churches and how they're led, and a vision of how each of us can play some part in God's work of redeeming all of creation. This book will be core in our training of church-planting pastors and their leader teams as they seek to embrace and embody the truth and love of the gospel in cities around the world."

Katherine Leary Alsdorf, founder, Redeemer Church's Center for Faith & Work; interim director, City to City's Global Faith & Work Initiative; cowriter with Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor

"I experienced so many 'aha!' moments reading Exiles on Mission. Many Christians are confused about how to live out their faith in the post-Christian West. The opportunities have never been greater, but the church is often stymied by outdated models of mission. Paul Williams has written a perceptive, challenging, and ultimately hopeful account of how Christians everywhere can be the transformational community Jesus calls us to be."

Justin Brierley, host, Unbelievable? radio show and podcast

The Author

  1. Paul S. Williams

    Paul S. Williams

    Paul S. Williams (MA, MSc, Oxford University; MCS, Regent College) is CEO of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He is also research professor of marketplace theology and leadership at Regent College in Vancouver and is an honorary professor at...

    Continue reading about Paul S. Williams


Outreach 2021 Recommended Resource (Cross-Cultural and Missional)

"This book is so good for so many--drawing on a vivid and largely Reformed worldview that (in the spirit of Newbigin) pushes us to engage culture and think missionally about society, work, economics, and more, if helps us all learn to be 'ambassadors of hope in a new Babylon.'. . . [One of the] best books for a full-orbed and wholistic cultural theology that is culturally contextualized and sweetly missional, deep, rich, and yet accesible. Highly recommended."

Byron Borger,

Hearts and Minds Booknotes