Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Tag: ecumenical theology

How do we decide whom we can work with?

Mission agencies, including the one in which I serve, are increasingly drawn to work in partnership with other mission organizations and churches. As Missio Nexus’ tagline says, “The Great Commission is too big for anyone to accomplish alone and too important not to try to do together.” 

So we do not often hear calls to be careful about ecumenism.  (Wikipedia defines ecumenism as the “efforts by Christians of different church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings.”)

Learning from Mission History

As I look at the missiological landscape more than halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, I join others in noting similarities with the early 20th century. Christopher R. Little writes:

Indeed, the problems the missionary movement generated at the early part of the twentieth century have returned with a vengeance at the beginning of the twenty-first century. … It is a hard fact to face, but the church has failed to learn from history and is therefore repeating it. – Polemic Missiology for the 21st Century: In Memoriam of Roland Allen, Kindle loc. 137

Missio Dei

This Latin phrase emerged “in Protestant missiological discussion especially since the 1950s, often in the English form ‘the mission of God'” (The Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, p 631). The term sought to anchor missions in the Triune God of the Bible. David Bosch defines it as:

God’s self-revelation as the one who loves the world, God’s involvement in and with the world, the nature and activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church is privileged to participate. Missio Dei enunciates the good news that God is a God-for-people. (Transforming Mission, Kindle loc. 592)

The term became prominent in ecumenical circles at the 1952 meeting of the International Missionary Council in Willigen, Germany.

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