From Every Nation (Chris Howles)
Mission Hits #33 (January 2022)
Welcome to Mission Hits, a twice-monthly blog highlighting stimulating and significant recent resources related to world Christianity, world church, and world mission.
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Welcome to Mission Hits #33
For the first time since Mission Hits began in 2020 I've missed an edition! Life here in Uganda caught up and swallowed me whole earlier this month, so January will only have one Mission Hits post. But it's a great one! I trust you will enjoy some of these wonderful resources below.
As ever, please feel free to send me any feedback (email@example.com) and if you think others would benefit from Mission Hits, do send it to them.
Uganda Martyrs Seminary Namugongo
Mission Partner: Crosslinks (UK)
ESSENTIALS (must reads)
(1) 8 Dangers of becoming a sending church
The Upstream Collective is a US-based ministry passionate to build and equip mission-sending churches. Given that, I appreciated their honesty here in recognizing there are pitfalls associated with a heavy emphasis on church-based sending. In this blog post they forewarn of 8 potential problems which require careful consideration…
(2) Global missions and the treason of conversion
"Unbelievers will interpret a disciple of Christ’s actions in terms of betrayal, treason, abandonment, and apostasy. In our culture’s concern with acceptance and tolerance, pressure has been exerted both on the church and the foreign missionary to deemphasize the exclusivity of Christ and the arresting, confrontational nature of the gospel" From President of ABWE, Paul Davis. It's helpful, but must apply equally to the Western church and missionaries too…
(3) Missionary: Choose the posture of a learner
Bradley Bell with a nice thought experiment to help missionaries approach their ministry contexts as learners not experts… "If you were sought out as a national partner to a foreign missionary, how would you expect to be treated? I think it’s safe to say that most of us would want (even if subconsciously) some level of respect. If nothing else, we’d want acknowledgment of our indigenous expertise in the English language and our grasp of American culture. That’s just affirming basic human dignity…"
GENERAL (worth your time)
(1) God is not a missionary God
There's a title to draw you in hey?! This post from British missiologist Eddie Arthur will delight, challenge, and maybe even frustrate, but it's an important read. "Saying that God is a missionary God describes him in terms of our understanding of mission and missionaries…" (it's an older blog post, but it's just been reissued this week, so I'm allowing it in)
(2) 4 Ways to cultivate missional prayer as a family
Gospel Coalition article by Jenny Marcelene about embedding a missions-mindfulness and prayerfulness into family life with kids.
(3) 3 Reasons we must continue to send long-term global missionaries
'We' here being the Western church I think. A nice short summary of three primary arguments from Lloyd Kim writing for the Gospel Coalition (US)…
AUDIO/VISUAL (podcasts, videos)
(1) Youthquake: Why African demography should matter to the world
A secular podcast on an extremely important topic with huge relevance for world mission and world Christianity. 60% of Africa's population are under 25, and in less than thirty years one-third of all humans of working age will be African. A 50-min interview with Edward Paice, author of the recent book 'Youthquake: Why African Demography Should Matter to the World'
(2) South-Asian Christianity and colonization
A powerful 60-second video from Sri Lankan born Kevin Wilson now working in California as a youth pastor. "You don't have to sacrifice the beauties of your heritage at the altar of church culture." The weight of non-Western voices passionately and patiently explaining such things is there for all to see…
(3) Doctrine, pragmatism, and movements
A discussion with Missio Nexus president Ted Esler on the methodology, validity, and potential of mission movement models (as opposed to proclamational models). Two 40-min podcasts from The Missions Podcast. I appreciated the depth and integrity of the discussion here, although of course the wider debate will run and run…
DIGGING DEEPER (challenging but rewarding)
Alongside 'Mission Hits' you're currently reading, the other primary ministry of this website is to collate and distribute missions-related academic output. 'Mission Hits JOURNALS' is an email (4 times a year) with links to all journals/periodicals related to world mission/World Christianity. Edition #5 covering Oct-Dec 2022 is now out. Check it out and, if you still haven't done so, sign up to stay informed, inspired, and thoroughly up-to-date with contemporary missiological thinking.
(2) Contextualization or Syncretism?
Putting this here, not under 'Books', as it's a published PhD monograph rather than popular-level . From Derek Brotherson (Principal, Sydney Missionary and Bible College), it looks significant: "Is there a point where appropriate contextualization becomes gospel-distorting syncretism? Based on an in-depth, biblical-theological study of key Bible texts used by Insider Movement proponents and critics, this book provides a ground-breaking new assessment tool for distinguishing contextualization from syncretism"
(3) Academic Seminars at Princeton Theological Seminary
The Overseas Ministries Study Centre based at Princeton Theological Seminary are again running a spring-program of seminars, author-discussions etc. It costs $15 per session, $67 for 5 but is free for doctoral students in mission-related fields. Topics include "World Christianity and Indigenous Experience" and "Women’s Leadership and the Mission of the Church"
BOOKS (recent releases)
Links are to Amazon for best info/reviews. Other outlets are available...
(1) Missions by the Book: How Theology and Missions Walk Together (2022)
Chad Vegas & Alex Kocman
"Across the church, there is a rift between theology and missions. Bad theology produces bad missions, and bad missions fuels bad theology. We wrongly think that we must choose between making a global impact and thinking deeply about the things of God. But the relationship between theology and missions is symbiotic—one cannot exist without the other. They walk hand-in-hand. [This book] weaves together a thoroughly biblical argument for why all missionary efforts and practice must have a comprehensive theology at their core."
(2) Mission Affirmed: Recovering the Missionary Motivation of Paul (2022)
"The greatest challenge in evangelical missions isn’t a lack of urgency, but a lack of discernment. As we’ve prioritized movements that are simple and reproducible, the gospel and faithful churches are now threatened. Our mission itself could be disqualified. [This book] seeks to reshape our motivation by considering the example of Paul the missionary. The desire for God’s approval is what formed his ambition and directed his methods, and it should guide ours too.
(3) Mission: Possible - Defining and Empowering Your Ministry Among the Unreached (2021)
"[The author] pulls together major threads which inform and guide practice in pioneering movements ministry, including understanding church planting movements, what to do about baptism, and even how wise stewarding of your own time as a practitioner impacts everything you do. Rather than simply talking about these subjects, Sinclair shows how to do these things. With a strong biblical basis, and years of experience in oversight, coaching and direct ministry, Sinclair’s book is a must-read for anyone serious about reaching the unreached."
MISCELLANEOUS (varied but valuable)
(1) Immigration and the American Church
This is an important read from scholar Jehu J. Hanciles on how immigration is changing America and specifically the American Church. Key finding: "Levels of church attendance and religious commitment are generally higher among immigrants than the general population"
(2) Communicating your Ministry by Video…
Interesting. A ministry set up to help missionaries, mission agencies, and other ministries make high-quality 3-min videos for communicating their vision and values to partners.
(3) Cross Conference for the UK
UK readers: The annual 'Cross' conference in the US is a large conference for 18-30yr olds to consider more about serving the Lord cross-culturally. Wycliffe UK are running four sessions to show some of the talks and seminars from the most recent conference, four consecutive Thursday evenings, from the 20th of January, 7.30pm-9pm. £12.
QUOTES (wise one-liners)
(1) "It is the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world."
(2) "If you are ever inclined to pray for a missionary, do it at once, wherever you are. Perhaps he may be in great peril at that moment."
(3) "Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church. Essentially He said that the church should go to the whole world"
GLOBAL INSIGHT (Noteworthy news)
(1) From Kazakhstan to Ethiopia, the growing internet shutdown
The hugely important and concerning trend of internet shutdowns: "More than 486 million people were affected by internet shutdowns in 2021, 80% more than during 2020…For those who value freedom, that should be a concern. For most of this century, there has been an assumption that the internet would bring greater openness. Now, it seems that even access having to it is something a growing number of people may not be able to take for granted"
(2) A crisis of faith in South Africa: ‘People have given up on the state’
"Struggling even before Covid, communities are taking it upon themselves to try to fill the gaps left by the government"
(3) Afghans Fear For Their Rights As Taliban Resurrects Religious Policing
"When the Taliban seized power in August, the militant group vowed it would not resurrect the violent religious policing it enforced during its first stint in power. But nearly five months after regaining power, the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has reclaimed its role as the enforcer of the group’s radical interpretation of Islamic law…"
TWEETS (short but significant)
HIGHLIGHTS (most popular links from last Mission Hits…)
(1) “Millions are dying without Christ”: Thinking through a popular but insufficient reason to move overseas
(2) Things mission agencies shouldn’t say
(3) 10 Unique ways to care for your missionary
AND FINALLY (unrelated but interesting!)
(1) Surviving wild animal attacks
OK, it's rather terrifying scary, but I did find these personal testimonies of surviving animal attacks (bear, shark, mountain lion, hippo, and otter!) grimly fascinating, bizarrely inspiring, and often quite moving. I post it here with a warning (Graphic descriptions of injuries, it all basically makes me never want to step out of my house again)
For all their bizarre ridiculousness, I really like some of these! The replies are well worth scrolling through as well…
(3) 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying
I reckon everyone could find 20 of these that they'd enjoy implementing.
Full searchable archives of all Mission Hits resources from edition #1
Questions, comments, or suggestions for the next edition?
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