Mission Hits #51 (August 2023)
Welcome to Mission Hits, a monthly blog highlighting stimulating and significant recent resources related to world mission and world Christianity.
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Welcome to Mission Hits #51
You don't have to dig so far into contemporary missions discussions to get the sense that many terminologies, strategies, models, expressions and practices of world mission today are being widely questioned, debated, and reimagined. With resources below about business as mission, polyvocalism, transformations in missions mobilization, emerging theologies and diaspora evangelism (and oh so much more) there's lots here to help you think about God's plans and purposes for your participation in His mission in today's world.
Bit of personal news: my family and I are relocating from Uganda to the UK in less than a week's time and I'm looking forward to starting at Oak Hill College (London) as 'Director of Cross-Cultural Training' from January. Announcement here.
As always, if you know anyone who might find this a useful monthly resource to receive, then please do pass this on and encourage them to sign up. And please feel free to send me any suggestions or feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Head of Theology serving at Uganda Martyrs Seminary Namugongo.
Mission Partner: Crosslinks (UK)
Doctorate in Intercultural Theology (Fuller Theological Seminary)
ESSENTIALS (if you only have time for one...)
Essential for Missionaries
Yes, another Mission Hits recommended link to a resource about burnout in missionaries. I'll keep on doing this until we all do better at listening to and implementing some of the important practical suggestions in this article. "We tend to overlook the reality that our own souls, minds, and bodies also require as much care and attention as those whom we came to serve."
Essential for Church Leaders
I appreciated the carefully considered nature of this article, the way it looks at different scenarios and situations to help church leaders think deeply about some of the issues involved in whether to send out cross-cultural gospel workers with or without a missions agency. Church leaders are well served by this resource from Catalyst Services.
Essential for Mission Agency Workers
14 factors that may cause a missionary to return home (or at least want to return home) that many may be tempted to keep 'hidden' from partner churches and supporters. This is an important list for mission agency staff to keep in mind as they pray for and relate with mission partners.
Essential for Christians Partnering as Senders
Bradley Bell writing as helpfully as ever, this time for the Gospel Coalition website. Some questions to ask when considering whether to partner with a mission partner seeking support.
GENERAL (well worth your time)
Joash Thomas (International Justice Mission Canada) gives four things, amidst many others, that Western Christians must understand and learn from majority world brothers and sisters.
What a helpful reminder of the rich, deep African roots of New Testament Christianity and early church history- a very important excerpt from the Africa Study Bible .
"The workplace was the most strategic venue for evangelism for the early church, and we believe this is the case today as well. It is critical that we shift our thinking about evangelism—regarding the messengers and the method—to fulfill the Great Commission today." Seems that the decentralizing, democratizing, and de-professionalizing of mission will be a significant theme at Lausanne 2024.
AUDIO/VISUAL (podcasts & videos)
Last year Professor of Christian Ministry (Samford University) and missiologist J.D.Payne published a really helpful book called 'Theology of Mission: A Concise Biblical Theology'. He has just finished an excellent 12-part podcast series based on that book, introducing God's mission plans and purposes through the Scriptures from Torah to Revelation. I've listened to every episode and hugely enjoyed and benefitted from the whole series. A fantastic resource.
Sam George, Director of the Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College, on how the movement of peoples around the world leads us to rethink how we engage in God's mission today. Fascinating 80-min episode of the 'Apollos Watered' podcast.
Host Dave Jacob chats with Gina Zurlo about missionary sending throughout the world, discussing the significant missionary-sending and receiving changes have occurred in recent decades, and how missionaries sent from the West can better partner with our brothers and sisters from the Global South. 30-min episode of the 'Gospel Mobilization' podcast.
DIGGING DEEPER (challenging but rewarding)
"The church’s future is polycentric, integral, pentecostal, polyvocal, and intercultural (P.I.P.P.I.). As a shorthand, I call this holisticostal. Holisticostal missional movements are reshaping the church and the world." A meta-level paradigm-shifting proposal from Graham Joseph Hill. None of the individual components here are new, yet he explains and combines them wonderfully, making this a must-read for anyone grappling seriously with the future shape of missiology.
"We need to adjust the fact that Christianity has lost its position of privilege in Western society as moral arbiter. But in the annals of human history this privilege was an unusual bubble. Our faith thrives best when it is compassionately lived out in stark contrast to the morality of its context, and then engages that context with loving sensitivity to assist with the gospel’s reception." I rarely come away from a (WEA Mission Commission leader) Jay Matenga blogpost without being helpfully prodded.
In this extended argument Todd Korpi argues that 'the macro must be an overflow of the micro', such that any large and lasting global mission impact must always be found in and flow from our local, immediate mission engagement - maybe 'Think Little' should precede 'Think Big'?
BOOKS (recent releases)
Links are to Amazon for best info/reviews. Other outlets are available...
"Today, some of the loudest and most creative voices in theology speak from the emerging contingencies of the Global South, for example, promoting Latinx, Black, Caribbean, and Asian theologies and their influence often influences the conversation in the United States and Europe.[This book] is a one-volume publication providing a comprehensive study of the rise of theologies from the global south in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries on five continents"
"Staying isn't always good and leaving isn't always bad. Both require grit and grace. Cross-cultural ministry presents us with many difficulties like transitions, loneliness, messy relationships, and the desire to escape. [This book] normalizes the challenges of ministry through honest and humorous stories from the authors' own lives as well as testimonies from many other workers. The point is to help cross-cultural workers not just to stay, but to stay well, by countering lies with truth."
"God's intention has always been to delight for all eternity in a redeemed community of ethnic diversity. But this diverse community shouldn't have to wait until eternity to begin! It can be a reality in our own local churches here and now. [This book] shows how multiethnic churches provide a unique apologetic for the gospel. Along the way, the authors tell the story of their own church―a majority-white congregation which is being transformed into a family that reflects the diversity of heaven." (See Gospel Coalition website review here)
MISCELLANEOUS (varied but valuable)
British missiological researcher (Dr) Eddie Arthur has been keeping a very fine blog for many years. Over that time he's published over 160 book reviews in the fields of mission/intercultural studies. These brief but helpful summaries/evaluations are always thoughtful & engaging. Lots to be learnt/enjoyed, even if you don't buy any of the books! Now they're all gathered in one PDF to download (for free if you wish, but a small donation is suggested/appreciated). Do it!
Justin Long has started a new weekly prayer guide with 7 prayer points for the world based on his excellent weekly 'Roundup' blog posts. Both are well worth signing up for.
SIM have produced 4 well-designed PDF printable kits (covering South Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and The Andes) to give children an overview of those regions. "Featuring a wealth of great pictures, they begin by detailing the geography, the climate, the people groups, the faiths and the various cultures…the aim is to show children the richness of other cultures, while also teaching them that there are large parts of the world where the name of Jesus is not known."
QUOTES (wise one-liners)
(1) "How great an injustice it is to know about eternal suffering and do nothing."
(2) "Mission is not an appendage to divine nature nor is it possessed only by a part of or some Persons in the triune God. God is missionary in his very being"
(3) "If mission means moving outwards with the intention of cultivating the gospel message where it is non-existent, migrants are especially well placed to carry out this task."
GLOBAL INSIGHT (critical news & trends)
(A brief acknowledgement that many of the links under this section each month come from missions researcher Justin Long's excellent 'Weekly Roundup' posts: You can sign up here)
Islam and atheism growing in Russia, but interestingly orthodox Christianity is growing amongst young people (but still declining overall). Religious commitment (attending worship) doubled in the past decade. The situation is clearly complex, but this is a helpful introduction to the changing religious dynamics in Russia.
"Niger’s coup and those that preceded it may in fact plot a path to a future in which it finally becomes clear that Africa’s stability will not be forged in the Pentagon or on heated analysis panels on cable news, but on its own terms and through its own mechanisms, once it faces its worst fears and opts for self-preservation."
"Generation Z will be the last generation of Americans with a white majority, according to census data. The nation’s so-called majority minority arrived with Generation Alpha, those born since about 2010. Barely two decades from now, around 2045, non-Hispanic white people will fall below half as a share of the overall U.S. population." Some of the stats are debated, but this article gives a good sense of the broad trends in ethnic diversity in the US.
TWEETS (short but significant)
STATS (noteworthy numbers)
(1) Tagalog is now the 7th most spoken language amongst Christians in the world today, above German. SOURCE
(2) In 2022 89% of Christian martyrs killed for their faith in Christ were Nigerian (5,014 out of 5,621). SOURCE
(3) There are over 244 million migrants around the world today (an all-time high). Of the total migrant population, 85 million are from East Asia. SOURCE
ONLINE EVENTS (Zoom seminars and conferences)
Five-session workshop (3hrs a day, 5 consecutive days) by 'StoryRunners' (a ministry of Cru) "The workshop will be both a devotional and training experience that will equip you to use storytelling in a small group Bible study setting and in evangelistic spiritual conversations. You will also learn about unreached people groups, orality and how to be a better storyteller." September 11th-15th 2023, but further opportunities available in November and also in Jan/Mar/May next year. $40 a person.
Dr Harvey Kwiyani (CEO, Global Connections) will be proposing that the mission of the future involves all followers of Christ no matter where we were born, how much we earn, or even the colour of our skin. "This reality has many implications for mission agencies. We will explore some of those implications, including the need for visible diversity in both our office staff but also the teams we send out." £15.00 to GC members. £45.00 for non-members. 12noon-1.30pm BST.
"How can new and even seasoned mission pastors be further developed in head, heart, and hands of their unique and crucial role to help the church live on mission? Join us for this three month specialty cohort that focuses on you as the mission leader in your church." The ever-excellent Upstream Collective are offering four 2-hour long seminars and monthly 1-2-1 coaching Zoom calls with Larry McCrary. $700, takes place October through January.
HIGHLIGHTS (Most popular from last month's Mission Hits…)
JUST FOR FUN (unrelated but interesting!)
The world is a fascinating place. Welcome to Bir Tawil - the 26,000sq-km of land that lies unclaimed in Africa (for a longer explanation about this territory, and the American man who tried to claim it to make his daughter a princess, see here)
It is, of course, all a bit ridiculous. And yet I found this video strangely moving, incredibly uplifting and never dull for a moment. This is the world's highest, and surely most remarkable, basketball shot. I watched this 17-min with my kids and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment, finding lots of interesting things to discuss about it afterwards.
Beautiful BBC articles with beautiful photographs of beautiful road trips through beautiful places. Everyone will find a few articles they want to click on here.
Full searchable archives of all Mission Hits resources from edition #1
Questions, comments, or suggestions for the next edition?
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