Yes! I Know!

There are writers out there who do distinguish between service and proclamation. In theory, mission should be holistic, but I don’t live in a theoretical world – I live in the real one.

Could you just excuse me for a moment or two? I need to let off steam.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but from time to time on Kouyanet, I blog about Christian mission. Not only that, but I give talks and interviews on mission, too. I know it’s odd, but that’s what I do.

One of the things that regularly comes up in my writing is the way in which people distinguish between mission as proclamation of the Christian message and mission as serving those in need. There are some writers who insist that mission is only proclamation; caring for those in need is all well and good, but don’t call it mission. At the other end of the scale, there are those who probably think that proclamation is a good thing, but they never get round to it; pragmatically, mission is service and nothing else.

Now, whenever I say something like this, someone will respond that they don’t think that I should differentiate between service and proclamation. In dividing the two, I am separating things which properly belong together.

Yes, I get that! I write about it, I preach it. The distinction between service and proclamation is an artificial one that has more to do with enlightenment ways of thinking than it has to do with Scripture. I believe that mission is holistic, integral, service and proclamation.


There are writers out there who do distinguish between service and proclamation and there are mission practitioners who effectively create a dichotomy by their actions. In theory, mission should be holistic, but I don’t live in a theoretical world – I live in the real one.

So, I’m going to continue to write about proclamation and service and sometimes I will write about them as though they were separate entities. I might wish that things were otherwise, but they aren’t and as long as the artificial dichotomy exists, I’ll continue to address it.

Sorry if that bothers you.


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3 replies on “Yes! I Know!”

Holistic mission: All in good Franciscan tradition I suppose! But why should enlightenment thinking impose a false dichotomy between proclamation and service? I can’t see your logic here. Is it something to do with the clunky philosophical dualism that is so rampart among Western Christians, Christians who constantly play off the spiritual against the material?

But then again enlightenment thinking might actual favour a holistic view of mission: In good enlightenment tradition we rationalise and expand our categories to incorporate a large slice of reality; where once we had two categories we see a far more general single category – e.g 1: Let’s do away with heavenly spheres of quintessence and use a generalised version of falling apple mechanics instead! e.g. 2: Let’s roll myriad Christian subcultures into one “Open Gospel” phenomenon! And so on…

But some people didn’t need enlightenment category rationalism: As St. Francis discovered service is a form of behaviour and behaviour sends out signals. Language is also a form of behaviour, in fact a method of imposing configurations on matter in way that is meaningful. To human beings designed to read between the lines, all behaviour imposes configurations on matter in a potentially meaningful way and therefore constitutes a form of language.

Tell you what Eddy, next time you feel like sounding off why not go into the garden and zap a few vicious weeds with that flame thrower of yours? Those weeds might get a bit hot under the collar but it might cool you off!

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