Eddie and Sue Arthur

How To Become Multidirectional

I’m going to quote from a couple of papers on mission and church relationships this week. Today’s quote is over ten years old; the issues that it raises are still very much in focus, though I would suggest that they are more advanced than Brian Stanley suggests:

The vision of Christian mission as a multidirectional dynamic linking all the six continents is one that is now very widely, though not yet universally, shared by mission thinkers in all sections of the church. It is, one may suggest, shared rather less widely by the ordinary Christians in the north who supply the financial resources for mission agencies based in the north. How that vision can embed itself in appropriate structures is a question that has attracted a variety of solutions, no singly one of them, perhaps being definitive. Different mission polities have faced different obstacles to the implementation of that vision.

Faith missions have sometimes been hampered by the ideal, so strongly held by Hudson Taylor, of the divinely-appointed individual leader who could override both committee decisions and the views of the national church and push the missionary flags around the map with the strategic confidence and supreme authority of a military general. Embedded in much of the faith mission tradition is a conviction that the structural independence of international mission from the national church must be preserved. This is a truism if it is conceded that international missions still have a legitimate role to play in the overall world mission of the church, but the truism can sometimes mask a reluctance to admit national Christians to real parity of status in decision-making in any one national context. The process of full internationalization of the faith missions is not yet complete.

From Stanley, B. (2003). Where Have Our Mission Structures Come From?. Transformation (02653788), 20(1), 39.

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