Mission Hits #52 (September 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 #52
In this 52nd edition of Mission Hits you'll find, as ever, resources galore on all things world mission, world church, and world Christianity! I do hope you're able to click on and benefit from as many links as possible. These content creators below have done a marvelous job of producing so many wonderfully helpful articles, podcasts, seminars, tweets, books etc. Time is always short, but I don't think you'll regret spending it on any of these links!
I'm particularly looking forward to getting hold of the three new book releases featured below, each of which looks fascinating and important.
The next edition of 'Mission Hits Journals' will be out in the coming weeks. That email is every 4 months and is for those slightly more inclined towards academic missiological writing. Click here to learn more.
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Mission Partner: Crosslinks (UK)
Doctorate in Intercultural Theology (Fuller Theological Seminary)
p.s. My wife Ros and I, along with our 3 kids, have arrived back in the UK now after 12 years in Uganda. As you can see, Mission Hits continues and there are plans ahead to introduce new ways to keep it fresh and relevant. Thanks for those who have written so kindly about this transition we're making, and for those who have prayed for us. It's hugely appreciated.
ESSENTIALS (if you only have time for one...)
Essential for Missionaries
Some interesting testimonies here (summarized briefly and helpfully) from American and European single missionaries, both male and female, about their experiences working in the global south. If you're a missionary you're very likely either single or alongside single missionaries. I suspect therefore that this article by Sophie Parker (for Unreached Network, UK) will be helpful for you.
Essential for Church Leaders
Mike Ironside (Upstream Collective) has produced a lovely, basic introduction to help church leaders think through how you can purposely develop a sending 'pipeline' process towards raising and deploying cross-cultural workers. "It is the place of the church to help their members not only to be in love with God, but to be trained and empowered to live sent as well."
Essential for Mission Agency Workers
"It’s so easy to lament the negative traits of each generation. But it’s time to recognize the way God can use even our weakness to magnify his strength. A world of opportunities for missional advancement remains, and a generation has emerged ready to engage them with the gospel." God is at work through the unique characteristics of Gen Z to influence the nations, and mission agencies should be aware in their communication and mobilization.
Essential for Christians Partnering as Senders
It is easy for Christians in smaller churches to feel like the Great Commission is just too great for their meagre material resources. Stephen Witmer has some good ideas here for recalibrating such thoughts and leveraging the advantages of small churches in a big world!
GENERAL (well worth your time)
Brad Vaughn argues that three distinct cultural 'logics' can be identified worldwide: Dignity cultures, honour cultures, and 'face' cultures. Here he compares and contrasts the three, hinting at ways that these cultural settings might impact how the gospel is presented. Follow up post about four practical implications of this is here.
Lots of important and encouraging recent world Christianity statistics contained in this short article from Aaron Earls for Lifeway.
"When I think of the first and best missionary, I think of Jesus" Ten features of the missional life and times of Jesus Christ from Paul Beeghly writing for the TEAM blog.
AUDIO/VISUAL (podcasts & videos)
40-min episode of the 'Our Urban Voices' podcast between host Alfonse Javid and Steve Schirmer (President of Silk Road Catalyst) on the topic of legitimacy in missions, especially how Western missionaries in restricted access countries present themselves for the purposes of residents permits and income generation. Is it OK to lie for the sake of gospel access with the unreached? Complex, important questions are discussed. Steve's book on the topic (online, read for free) can be found here.
This is a friendly, well-informed, and measured introduction to the concept of 'Business as Mission' with an experienced and passionate BAM missiologist and practitioner - João Mordomo (BAM Global). 37-min podcast from the 'Mission Matters' podcast with Matthew Ellison and Ted Esler.
Jim Lovelady speaks with Emily Shrader, a mobilization recruiter, about how Jesus uses disruptions in our lives to draw us out of our comfort zones, and how His epic authority empowers us to take risks in advancing His kingdom both near and far. A 54-min Serge Podcast episode.
DIGGING DEEPER (challenging but rewarding)
A white paper for Wheaton College's Billy Graham Center written by Dr Todd Korpi, designed to "provide preliminary findings to understand the landscape of the church’s participation in the mission of God in digital places and spaces." Missiologists and mission agency & church leaders would do well to put aside an hour for this.
Does the cross of Christ primarily deal with humankind's guilt, or humankind's shame? These are much debated questions in missiology as people consider how to most communicate Christ's victory in different cultures with different understandings of sin and humanity. I appreciated Associate Professor of Missions and Theology (Cedarville) Matt Bennet's well-written ABWE article here as a helpful starting point to this important topic.
"Without robust data, we would be at an irreconcilable impasse." Chris Maynard (from the Community of Mission Information Workers) writing for the WEA Mission Commission about the importance of data and statistics in world mission today. In the 'managerial missiology' debate that often veers to extremes, this article is sensible and measured.
BOOKS (recent releases)
Links are to Amazon for best info/reviews. Other outlets are available...
"[This book] argues, biblically and theologically, that it is imperative for Western evangelical theology to engage with the global church, and provides examples of how this can be done. Case studies illustrate opportunities for fruitful engagement with non-Western theology in various areas of Christian doctrine. Readers will be given an introduction to the riches available within the worldwide body of Christ and learn how to engage productively with the global church."
"[This book] lays the groundwork for exploring a new paradigm for missions. Divided into three parts, the book first establishes the theological foundations of reconciliation. The second part then shows how theory and practice go hand in hand. Finally, the third part uses case studies to highlight the importance of understanding brokenness, conflict, and culture for effective ministry in reconciliation. The contributors challenge readers to consider the church’s role in God's mission and how every Christian can become an envoy of his restoration work."
"[This book] represents the latest in missiological thinking. Though some contributors are scholars and even professors, most are field practitioners —evangelists, church planters, Bible translators, medical professionals, refugee workers, and community development specialists. Based on decades of faithful service, they report on what they have learned about mission. It addresses a wide range of critical concerns, such as informal theological education, Bible translation, business as mission, trauma care, and working on multicultural teams."
MISCELLANEOUS (varied but valuable)
Many of you will be aware that next year (September 2024) brings us to the 4th Lausanne Congress in Seoul (following Lausanne 1974, Manila 1989, and Cape Town 2010). Described as a "multi-year, global, polycentric process facilitated by the platform of Lausanne, towards catalytic collaboration of the global church, for the discipling of all nations and the shaping of the world in 2050", this is undoubtedly going to be a hugely significant world mission event. In this article David Bennett (Congress Director for Seoul 2024) writes about what it involves, and what its aiming for.
Two blog posts with lots of links to ChinaSource articles from the last decade about different aspects of the Chinese church missions movements. A wealth of information here for those interested, on topics such as 'Member care for Chinese missionaries' and 'Challenges for cross-cultural workers from China'.
Drs Nigel Rooms and Harvey Kwiyani have put together a 4-session small-group course (UK based, would easily work elsewhere) helping churches to understand and practise God's passions and plans for interculturality in our Christian faith and life. Bible studies, discussion questions, video case studies and more, all freely available here.
QUOTES (wise one-liners)
(1) "We cannot effectively carry out mission in a foreign language. We have to sing the Gospel in our tunes, set to our music, played on our instruments"
(2) "Disciplemakers who enjoy feeling relied upon seldom reproduce other disciple-makers."
(3) "Let us remember that one does not have to have the prestige of the world to be greatly used in the kingdom of God."
Robert E. Coleman
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)
A massive new Pew report on religion in China. The overview is in the title link, above. If you want he specific chapter on Christianity in China, see here. A specific overview of religious change in China is here. A Christianity Today article about it, headlining with suggestions that Christianity's growth in China has 'stalled' since 2010, is here.
"The war in Sudan is fueling a humanitarian emergency of epic proportions. This viral conflict – and the hunger, disease and displacement left in its wake – now threatens to consume the entire country. Some places have already run out of food. Hundreds of thousands of children are severely malnourished and at imminent risk of death if left untreated." UN statement on a devastated country.
"Pentecostal and evangelical churches are experiencing significant growth, and may emerge from the war stronger than ever before. Churches are packed out because people are seeking God.”
TWEETS (short but significant)
STATS (noteworthy numbers)
(1) China has contributed 41% of the world's economic growth over the past 10 years. SOURCE
(2) Evangelical churches have grown 543% in 20 years in Brazil, with 17 new churches opening every day. SOURCE
(3) One-quarter of Somalians are displaced from their homes. SOURCE
ONLINE EVENTS (Zoom seminars and conferences)
The Overseas Ministries Study Center at Princeton Theological Seminary has a fascinating 2023-24 seminar series - the link takes you to the full list. Each seminar takes place 9.30am-11.30am (EDT) over 2 consecutive mornings, and they’ve opened it up for free to 'outsiders'. The first one (Oct 2nd/3rd) on spiritual formation and mission is with Dr. Paul Kollman (University of Notre Dame).
A seminar looking at the challenges of missionary education and preparing the next generation for engagement in the Great Commission, with Dr. David Cashin (professor of intercultural studies, Columbia International University). October 12 at 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm EDT. Free for MissioNexus members.
How much AI is too much AI? "If you are involved in communicating about your mission as a writer, photographer or videographer, or if you manage communications teams, I want to invite you to contribute to a conversation about the use of AI and the factors we need to consider when deciding where we draw the line." With Phil Prior (Director for Communication with Wycliffe Global Alliance), Organised by Global Connections, 18th October 2pm-3.15pm (BST), £15 for Global Connections members.
HIGHLIGHTS (Most popular from last month's Mission Hits…)
JUST FOR FUN (unrelated but interesting!)
I know y'all love maps, so you're going to love this as much as me. Choose a type of projection, centre it on any country in the world, and check out how extraordinarily different the world map can look!
Sculpture is a remarkable skill. These are 15 of the most astonishing marble sculptures ever created
A zoomable live world map showing the temperature everywhere on earth right now (can also show rainfall and other weather phenomena)
Full searchable archives of all Mission Hits resources from edition #1
Questions, comments, or suggestions for the next edition?
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