ABOUT THE SYMBOL
This shape is known as a ‘truncated icosahedron’. According to Wikipedia, “It is used in the cell-transitive hyperbolic space-filling tessellation, the bitruncated order-5 dodecahedral honeycomb”. If you have any idea what that means, you’re much smarter than me….
Let me explain the relevance of that shape for this website…
For many years in the West it has been presumed that mission is an activity that the Western church 'does' to foreigners. The good news of Jesus is something that ‘we’ take to ‘them’. This sort of mission is unidirectional, moving outwards from home to abroad.
However, increasingly now many Christians in the West recognise that this way of thinking is simplistic and often harmful. This shift has been largely prompted by the extremely-rapid growth and deepening of worldwide non-Western (for now, let's say ‘majority world’) Christianity. This is combined with a corresponding decline of Christian faith in most Western countries. At the same time, large numbers of people are migrating in different directions in a rapidly globalising world, many of whom are Christians speaking the message of Jesus as they go. It is increasingly appreciated therefore that God's mission is multi-directional, or ‘from everywhere to everywhere’.
Today, four out of the top five missionary-sending countries are in the Majority World, and you’re more likely to meet a Nigerian or Iranian Christian in Britain than you are a British Christian in Nigeria or Iran. The good news of Jesus is being shared across cultural and national boundaries by Christians on the move, only a small number of which are salaried ‘professional’ missionaries, and an even smaller number still are from the West. Proclaiming Christ to the ends of the earth is as likely to be done by a Filipino domestic worker in the Middle East, a Ghanaian pastor in London, or a Brazilian student in Lisbon than it is by a Western missionary in India.
So, what about our truncated icosahedron then? Well, world mission is not an arrow going in one direction, nor even a single arrow line pointing in both directions. It’s far more complex. It is an interwoven tapestry of flows, connections, relationships, partnerships, migrations, and movements in all directions all the time all around the world. Hence the symbol – every ‘dot’ is connected to every other dot in every direction through a web of multi-directional connections. Argentinian pastor and professor Pablo Deiros describes this idea well when he writes how:
No longer do we speak about mission in terms of who sends and who receives missionaries. This is outdated. Today we need to talk about a mission in which all send and all receive at the same time. We do not identify a country that sends and another that receives. Until recently, this was typical of our bidimensional, unidirectional model. Nowadays, mission resembles a more tridimensional model. [In this] tridimensional or polyhedral understanding of the reality of mission, everybody sends the message of the gospel to everybody, and all receive the message from all…the Christian mission is multi-directional. It expands in all directions at the same time. All the vertices touch all others in the structure through their interconnection.
So think about those three words: 'From Every Nation'. First and foremost they refer to the ultimate purpose and direction of God’s mission plans, as in God's great vision of heaven he gave to John of 'a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb' (Rev 7:9). 'From every nation' encapsulates something of the glorious future that awaits Christ's followers as they all gather together in beautiful, eternal worship of God in heaven.
But those three words are not just the end point of God's mission purposes. They also describe something of the means by which these purposes will be realised – Christians from every nation, prepared and sent by churches in every nation, taking the story of Christ to every nation.
May serve you as you grow in your engagement with world Christianity, world church, and world mission, and I pray you enjoy learning more about what God is doing in His world today!