Eddie and Sue Arthur

The Future of Mission?

What is clear by now is that both the concept of mission as a one-way movement from Christendom to the unevangelised world, and the structures devised at the close of the eighteenth century to facilitate that movement, have been overtaken by historical developments that render them increasing irrelevant and redundant. At this point the distinction between mission, as the abiding obligation and mark of the church of Christ at all times and in all places, and missions, signifying specific, historically conditioned institutions created to advance the cause of the kingdom of God in particular cultural situations becomes vitally important. To fail to make this distinction, and therefore to identify a specific inherited paradigm of mission and its organisational structures with mission itself, is to risk being locked into an obsolete model and so to be condemned to increasingly futile and frustrating activity. Any serious study of the history of the Christian mission leads to the conclusion that, while the cross-cultural transmission of the faith constitutes the very lifeblood of the church and is one of the most vital religious characteristics, the means and methods by which this has been done are various and many. Thus, while mission is a biblical universal, the modern missionary movement was a specific, culturally conditioned initiative which, while amazing successful in its time, is likely to be come increasingly dysfunctional if the attempt is made to preserve it in the new context we have described.

From Mission After Christendom by David Smith p.116.

A number of people have asked what my new role with Global Connections will involve on a day to day basis. At this point, it is hard to be specific, but this quote from David Smith paints the context in which I will be working. My role will involve helping churches and mission agencies in the UK adapt to a situation which is very different to the one they developed in. I don’t know what the answers are, but business as usual is really not an option.

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