Missions

Global ministry trends and issues, part 8: Mission training in the 21st century

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part 8: Mission training in the 21st century Written on October 6th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Programs, Students

A few years ago I was invited to consult on a mission and development project that was focused on caring for at-risk kids. As I approached the residential group home where several dozen young people were being cared for, I couldn’t help but notice the despair in the eyes of the mission volunteers and caretakers of the children. You see, the missionaries were passionate about seeing young lives transformed by the gospel. There was no doubt in their sincerity to see these lives restored, but the tools and training they had received did not match the challenges they were facing.

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Whether it be working with at-risk youth and children or church planting, cross-cultural workers need proper preparation. When our academic and training programs fail to properly prepare them for the immensely difficult task of working in a new culture, communicating with a different set of standards and training in specializations needed in the field, we prevent them from fully thriving. Fortunately, some see the need and will seek additional training, some will burnout and unfortunately others will cause harm to the very ones they seek to care for. Sadly, this was the case with the group mentioned above and they were eventually closed by the local government authorities despite our best efforts.

 

Mission education and training (on both the undergraduate and graduate level) must continue to reinvent itself in the coming years. The field of mission training, as I argued in my first blog post, must keep pace with global changes and issues. This means that mission education must also keep up and even in some cases lead the way on strategy and best-practices. Mission programs are by nature an applied discipline. Developing practical skills is critical to whatever field one aspires to work in. Jim and Judy Raymo conclude that, “Skills and training are essential for successful workers of every generation” (39). As described by Moreau, Corwin and McGee, training can take place through informal, nonformal and formal opportunities (173). While all of these areas are important for mission preparation, I deeply believe that formal academic training provides students with the best opportunity to establish themselves and prepare for a thriving ministry and career in international and local contexts.

The World Evangelical Fellowship recently identified four critical skills as essential for lessening attrition rates and providing an environment in which future cross-cultural workers will thrive. They are: Spirituality, Relational Skills, Ministry Skills and Training (Taylor xiv-xv). I would argue that both undergraduate and graduate programs related to the field of mission, international development and global studies should seek to incorporate these components.

Spiritual Formation: There is no substitution for spiritual formation. One’s spirituality must seek to develop an intimate relationship with God. This will prove critical in those moments of despair and hardship. J.D. Payne discusses the importance of “being continually filled with the Spirit of Mission (Eph. 5:18)” as part of our daily task in serving Christ in mission (165). One of the goals of formal Christian training should include, “genuine growth toward spiritual maturity” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 173). This growth should be nurtured while the student prepares to serve cross-culturally. This takes place through the integration of spiritual discipline practices in the classroom and assignments related to this.

Interpersonal Skills: Relational skills provide an atmosphere for which team-work and friendships can develop. Academic programs in this field must focus on demonstrating humility and teachability as two key skills. These skills can be nurtured in students preparing to serve on a team (especially a multicultural team). According to Moreau, Corwin and McGee “these attitudes are built on proper self-appraisal” as we encourage mission students to reflect on their purpose and service in the kingdom (176). Teachability is a critical skill in developing global partnerships. Students should be prepared to learn from others from different cultural backgrounds. “A teachable person is one who recognizes the inherent worth and wisdom of others” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 176). Most agree that “loud, impatient, demanding people with weak interpersonal skills often fail on the mission field and in team situations” (Raymo and Raymo 45).

Ministry Skills: These skills are another critical piece to developing and preparing future cross-cultural workers.        Learning to disciple others is critical to forming leaders who will bring transformation. Whether students are working in humanitarian contexts, business contexts, diplomacy or other areas, discipleship must be emphasized. Cultural sensitivity is also an area that must be developed inside the classroom through simulation activities and group interaction.

Another area that deserves attention is professional development. Professional skills must be viewed as part of our training. Integrating both ministry skills and professional skills not only opens up more opportunities for students of mission, but provides them with the foundation they need to succeed. One of the ways to develop these skills is by providing practical experiential opportunities.

Practical Training: When working with a multicultural team or engaging with unreached people groups one notes the critical training in cross-cultural communications and competency. This is often times referred to as Cultural Intelligence. These skills can be discussed in the classroom, but must be developed on the field. This is where experiential opportunities such as internships and practical assignments move the student from the classroom to a real-life laboratory. Guided internships provide opportunities to develop these skills. According to researchers Jim and Judy Raymo, internships are an essential tool in preparing cross-cultural workers in today’s world (50). Another viable means for ensuring an experiential learning environment is through study abroad programs. In particular, study abroad programs that incorporate first-hand interaction with the culture and social realities is most valued. These and other experiences are key for practical training.

“Equipping God’s people to accomplish the missio Dei in the twenty-first century will require more diversity and cooperation than has been known hitherto” (Elliston 232). The complexity of mission training has only increased. As Edgar Elliston rightly notes, the preparation for global mission engagement will require more diverse efforts.

Andrew Kirk calls for a listening of two voices when reading Scripture. We are to listen to the voice of God (Scripture) and the voice (cry) of the people. This process will help us to combine the “universal nature and intention of the Christian’ foundation document with the particular reality of every situation into which the message and life of Christ comes” (14). The cry in our world today has been highlighted in the issues and trends discussed in this eight-part series. The voice of God will continue to shed light on healthy global engagement with these issues and many more that we will face in the coming months and years as we seek to be salt and light in our communities and world.

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If you would like additional information on either the B.A. in Global Studies or the M.A. in Global Development and Justice degree programs, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Greg Burch via email at gburch@multnomah.edu

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Works Cited

Elliston, Edgar. “Moving Forward from Where We Are in Missiological Education.”  In Missiological Education for the 21st Century: The Book, the Circle and the Sandals, edited by Edgar J. Elliston, Charles Van Engen and J. Dudley Woodberry. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary Corwin and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2015.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Raymo, Jim and Judy Raymo. Millennials and Mission: A Generation Faces a Global Challenge. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2014.

Taylor, William David, ed. Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition, World Evangelical Fellowship, Globalization of Mission Series. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2007.

Global ministry trends and issues, part seven: Unreached people groups

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part seven: Unreached people groups Written on September 2nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Feature, Missions, Theology

This is the seventh post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog. Read the rest of this entry »

MA TESOL students run Bible camp in Japan

Comments Off on MA TESOL students run Bible camp in Japan Written on August 31st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Programs, Students

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This month, a team of MA TESOL students and professors led an English Bible camp for college, high school, junior high and elementary students in Kobe, Japan. In addition to preparing English lessons for each day of camp, the group also planned games, rallies, campfires, worship services and special activities. Team members spent a week before the 12-day trip studying Japanese culture and taking a collaborative approach to camp planning.

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The team worked with Pastor Akinori Taniguchi of Youth Harvest Church, which offers English Bible Club classes throughout the week. For Taniguchi, TESOL is a way to engage his community, build relationships and share the gospel. “Churches in Japan are small, and the work can be discouraging,” says MA TESOL Director Kristyn Kidney. “Our collaboration with this local church allowed us to support, encourage and pray over their workers.”

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It also allowed them to richly bless their Japanese students. “They had a lot of fun, and they learned a lot of English,” says Kidney. “We saw first-time professions of faith. We saw campers memorizing scripture together and discussing the meaning of the verses. We even saw some attend church for the very first time.”

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But the campers weren’t the only ones who were impacted. “It was amazing to see how God spoke to our team members through this experience,” says Kidney. “Some discovered new confidence in their teaching as they relied on God and found him faithful. Others felt a new tug on their heart to connect their TESOL training to overseas missions.”

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The theme for this year’s camp was Great Discoveries. “Both campers and our team discovered a great deal about language, friendship, and love of God,” says Kidney. “We delighted in getting to know them, teaching them English and seeing God work in their hearts.”

Youth Harvest Church has invited the team to return next year.

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Global ministry trends and issues, part six: Children and youth

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part six: Children and youth Written on August 30th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Theology

This is the sixth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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This week’s focus has been the primary issue for me as a practitioner and researcher in life. Children and youth continue to experience pressing needs in our world today. I think particularly of those affected by global poverty and other factors that have led to an increase in children growing up in circumstances that put their lives at risk. One-sixth of the world’s children are living in crisis (Douglas and Steffen 349).

This population represents some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Street-living and working children, child soldiers, gang-affiliated youth and others are in desperate need for mission praxis that is informed through best-practices in the field (best practices are models and approaches that derive from research and agreed upon standards from experts in the field). In the least developed areas of our world, children comprise 41 percent of the population (Payne 113). In some countries, that percentage rises above 50 percent, yet so often our mission training programs focus on the other half of the world’s population.

Scripture speaks boldly about the importance of children. Noted researchers in children’s spirituality focus on several biblical narratives where children are involved (Scottie May, et. al 39). One such story is the reunification of Esau and Jacob. When Jacob responds to Esau’s question about, “Who are these with you?” Jacob joyfully responds, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant” (Gen. 3:5). Other biblical passages from the N.T. are noted as well. The authors argue that “not only is the presence of Jesus’ teaching on children in the Gospels significant, but the emphasis in those teachings heightens their importance . . . understanding what Jesus says about children is at the heart of being a true disciple of Jesus” (39).

Given Scripture’s clear emphasis on recognizing the importance of children, understanding the risks they face is important.

Statistics reveal the need for caring for these young people:

• Two million people between the ages of 15 and 24 die each year globally from preventable diseases.
• 20% of adolescents experience mental health problems every year.
• Interpersonal violence kills about 565 young people between the ages of 5 and 29 every day.
• AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses account for the deaths of more than half of young female Africans (Payne 119).

Global development and mission organizations will continue to look for qualified candidates that are well-rounded in their skills and training. Local churches are critical to engaging with young people on the margins as well. “From the perspective of a missional engagement with children at risk, there is no replacement for the establishment of churches among every group of children who suffer the atrocities of a fallen world” (Pocock, Van Rheenen and McConnell 75).

Yet to care for these children, churches and agencies must move beyond a mentality that holds to a myopic approach to transformation that divides physical and emotional needs from spiritual realities. Spiritual conversion is critical for transformation, but a holistic approach that is focused on proclamation and formation, demonstration of compassion, restoration and development, and finally, confrontation of injustices will be critical to addressing both individual and structural issues that continue to contribute to the vulnerability of at-risk youth and children (Castellanos 136). Another way of saying this: We need to couple Word and Deed in our missional models for engaging with youth and children.

The implication of the abovementioned statistics recognizes the need for people to be trained through interdisciplinary programs that prepare caregivers from the fields of theology, business, psychology, sociology and health professions. General practitioners will continue to provide care as they launch programs that respond to the needs of at-risk children around the world. Combining the disciplines above will lead to robust programs that care for the whole child (thus bringing together the spiritual and physical realities).

One such example of a program that seeks to bridge both Word and Deed are found in some child sponsorship programs. Johnson and Wu, in citing a recent Christianity Today article describe the powerful effect that child sponsorship programs are having on vulnerable children (181). Sponsorship programs need not only passionate people trained in child survival practices, but business and marketing backgrounds as well. Happily, we have seen some Multnomah students from our programs going that direction. Children and youth also need pastors who are willing to open up their churches to serve those most vulnerable in their community. Academic programs that are multi-disciplined can provide the essential training that is needed for this type of ministry.

The need for partnerships and interdisciplinary approaches is critical for preparing future workers among this population of young people. Internships and practicum opportunities, as well as working with organizations that understand best practices, give students the opportunity to put into play what they are learning in the classroom. This is a critical piece for preparing younger generations in mission engagement. As a student at Multnomah in my undergrad, interning with a nonprofit organization in Colombia played a critical role in my vocational calling. It was that interplay between theory and practice, the classroom and field work, that eventually led me to full-time work in Latin America upon graduating.

Children and youth are clearly seen prioritized in the ministry of Jesus as he places the child in the midst of His disciples (Matt 18:12). It is time that our academic training institutions follow His example and provide programs that focus on those most vulnerable in society.

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Works Cited

Castellanos, Noel. Where the Cross Meets the Street. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015.

Johnson, Todd and Cindy Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

May, Scottie, Beth Posterski, Catherine Stonehouse & Linda Cannell. Children Matter: Celebrating Their Place in the Church, Family, and Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 2005.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Pocock, Michael, Gailyn Van Rheenen and Douglas McConnell. The Changing Face of Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008.

Global ministry trends and issues, part four: Indigenous ministries and partnerships

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part four: Indigenous ministries and partnerships Written on August 15th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Missions

This is the fourth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Here I am at a Global Mission Gathering.

This week I’m writing from Seoul, South Korea, where I’m participating in an international conference that has pulled together mission scholars from all over the world. With every region of the world and dozens of countries represented here, one gets the sense that the mission of God is being fulfilled. South Korea in particular is a good place to write about indigenous ministries and partnerships. There are more than 20,000 Korean missionaries serving around the world today. The percentage of Christians (representing both Catholic and Protestant churches) in South Korea is at about 32% with over 7,600 churches in the capital city (Seoul) alone.

Globally we note a proliferation of indigenous churches, ministries and global partnerships. This is often referred to as the growth of the majority world Church (see J.D. Payne chapter 3). As noted by African scholar, John Mbiti, today the Church’s center of power does not remain in places like New York, but rather in cities like Manila, Philippines. More and more people around the world are engaging in global mission. It is estimated that nearly 35,000 American Hispanic churches are increasingly becoming involved in global missions. The following chart highlights just a sample of the growth of international missionary movements:

Country Missionaries
India 82,950
China, PRC 20,000
Nigeria 6,644
Philippines 4,500
Indonesia 3,000
Ghana 2,000
Ukraine 1,599

These statistics reflect those missionaries serving more than two years and represent Protestant, Independent and Anglican missionaries. They also do not reflect the numbers of those who might consider themselves missionaries, but are living internationally due to diaspora.

This proliferation of global involvement has changed the very nature of how we understand missions today. Bill Dyrness recently noted, “Missions is now mutual exchange among the multiple centers of influence and learning and resources traveling all directions…” (Borthwick 39). No longer can we refer to the United States as a missionary ‘sending’ country. The same can be said for many countries that have traditionally been ‘receiving’ countries of missionary involvement. Significant mission organizations that were once based in these receiving nations are now focused on sending out missionary candidates.

With these changes within global mission activities must also come a new order for partnerships. North American Christians and agencies must now consider sharing decision-making opportunities with those they traditionally considered ‘receiving’ nations. Pakistani missiologist, Michael Nazir-Ali, says “partnership in mission must mean partnership in the whole of mission. Churches in the global south need to be involved with the North in the identification and articulation of mission issues as much as in addressing them” (211).

Appropriate and contextual training will be needed for those going out to serve within multi-ethnic and international teams. Students of mission will need to understand the reality of multi-ethnic teams and global partnerships if they are to succeed. The training must include cultural sensitivity and competency in foreign languages (sometimes multiple languages). Preparing students for such action will need to be incorporated into new training courses in the U.S. and abroad.

Here at Multnomah, we continue to develop courses that will prepare students to engage with sensitivity with those from distinct cultures. This is needed in business, education, counseling, pastoral ministries and other degree paths, just as much as it is needed in Global Studies in today’s world.

 

Works Cited

Borthwick, Paul. Western Christians in Global Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2012.

Mandryk, Jason. Operation World. Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica, 2010.

Nazir-Ali, Michael. From Everywhere to Everywhere: A World View of Christian Mission. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. 2009.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Global ministry trends and issues, part three: Discerning globalization

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part three: Discerning globalization Written on August 8th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions

This is the third post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Globalization is an important issue for those concerned with global mission engagement. We are now far more connected globally than ever before, yet with globalization comes benefits and risks, and as noted below, opportunities for global ministry.

Defining globalization is no easy task. One author defines globalization as a slow process that began in the 15th and 16th centuries in northwest Europe. As the network of material exchange grew, so grew the world capital market. Ankie Hoogvelt notes, “This network developed over time into a world market for goods and services, or an international division of labour” (14).

As noted below, this economic reality in the twenty-first century has benefits and risks for the global poor. Merilee Grindle (2000) comments on the lack of equality in the distribution of globalized expansion of “goods, services, capital, and information that characterizes this process of change” (179). And we know from the teachings of Scripture, when the poor hurt, the Church is to hurt with them. This is most evident in the teachings and practices of Christ. Matthew 25:31-46 is one of the clearest examples of Christ’s calling for solidarity with the poor and those exploited. The Old Testament is filled with references for God’s heart for the poor. This often times is referred to as biblical justice. Because God acts justly toward the rich and the poor, we too are to act rightly and seek His justice for them. Proverbs 29:7 says, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Scripture places emphasis on care for the poor given their place of helplessness in the midst of difficult situations that impact their lives. Noteworthy are laws concerning widows, orphans and foreigners among the Israelites. See Ex. 22:21-24; 23:9; Lev. 19:33; Duet 27:19. Such laws were presented to the Israelites to help guide justice among those who were living in precarious situations in society.

Also important to point out is the negative impact globalization is having on the planet. “Destruction of habitats and environmental pollution have been the fallout from some companies seeking to take advantage of business in a world that is more “liquid” and “light” (Payne 80). The consequences of these ailments will undoubtedly continue to demand that those who serve Christ in international contexts understand the complexity of our ecological systems and the negative impacts that environmental decay has on the very people they are called to serve. Environmentally sensitive missionaries will seek to mitigate harm caused by globalization’s impact on the environment.

As noted above, globalization must be understood economically, but we must also acknowledge the socio-cultural effects that our globalized world is having on cultures and societies. Globalization can also be understood as a societal process that impacts political, cultural and social arrangements in our world today. Take travel for example. As migration and travel increases, so does the sharing of ideas and culture. This is a distinctive of globalization in our world today and will continue to effect relationships into the future. Societal changes are taking place much faster today due to globalization.

Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas in Encountering Missionary Life and Work (where many of these trends are also discussed) make mention of the important shift in global theology and identify the need to become a learner of these changes within theological studies. This is what I would refer to as global theologizing. With this new opportunity for collaboration on globalized theology, come some challenges as well. There will be disagreements on contextual perspectives on theology, but with these differences there should be a pursuit of dignity and respect between believers.

Stephen and Douglas recommend becoming a “learner-leader” as we see globalization both critiqued and embraced (344). This is true for a globalization of theology and even mission theory. As missionally driven followers of Christ, we desire to see the effects of globalization translate into societal processes that positively impact all of God’s creation. This will sometimes lead us to advocate for policies and laws that seek to equally distribute the benefits of this phenomenon.

Mission endeavors will continue to be impacted by this global occurrence. One of the benefits, as acknowledged by J.D. Payne is the impact quick travel now has on those who work internationally. “Now we have the blessings of instant verbal, textual and visual communications with loved ones back home. Return trips are quick and practical” (80-81). For the most part, gone are the days of the missionary packing their worldly resources into their coffin as they wave goodbye to friends and family, never to hear from them again. While this is true, there are additional risks as well. The time one has to adjust and deal with culture shock must be mitigated. Member care is now a must for any organization that sponsors international mission trips or career placement. I often tell our students, if the organization does not have good member care, consider looking elsewhere.

Globalization and its results effect ministry in many ways. For some it creates an urgent need to care for those negatively impacted; for others, it creates some remarkable benefits in both access to goods and services. The Church must be vigilant to the needs of those negatively impacted, while leveraging the opportunities to impact our world for Christ.

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Works Cited

Hoogvelt, Ankie. Globalization and the Postcolonial World. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press 2001. Print.

Grindle, Merilee S. “Ready or Not: The Developing World and Globalization." In Governance in a Globalizing World, edited by Joseph S Nye and John D. Donahue. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2000. Print.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013. Print.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work:     Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008. Print.

Global ministry trends and issues, part two: Discerning the terms

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part two: Discerning the terms Written on July 20th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Theology

This is the second post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Beirut, Lebanon.

Recently while traveling in a creative access country (generally a country where missionary and evangelism activity is restricted), I was reminded of the importance of not using terms like missions and missionary. The use of these words in some contexts can land a Jesus-follower in jail or even worse. While traveling throughout this country, I spent some time considering the use of these terms in our world today.

Mission literature has also found it necessary to review some of the very terms that often accompany our global church activity. Mission and missions are two distinct words that have caused much confusion for younger generations. “Within mission discussion since the 1950s, terms have developed in such a way that it can be confusing to the uninitiated. Essentially mission (without the s) and missions (with the s) are used to indicate different things” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 69). The two definitions, as laid out by Scott Moreau, Gary Corwin and Gary McGee are helpful as we explore terms. Missions is understood as the “task of making disciples of all nations. It is seen through the work of mission agencies, churches and missionaries around the world” (70). The specific emphasis is on cross-cultural ministry in international contexts.

Mission, on the other hand, has been used in recent years in a broader sense and typically refers to “everything the church does that points toward the kingdom of God” (70). While these definitions are helpful to clarify what we mean in engaging in a specific kingdom activity, I find it more more helpful to use terms like cross-cultural (or even intercultural) ministry to specifically identify when one is involved working in a community other than one’s own cultural group.

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Crossing a river into an indigenous village in the Caribbean highlands with my son.

Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas explore the idea of whether or not the term missionary is even appropriate in our day and age (34-35). One of the primary concerns with the use of the nomenclature is the negative connotations associated with it internationally. It is frequently connected to ideas like colonialism and imperialism. Whether justified, or not, the authors raise concerns and ask the question, “since the term ‘missionary’ has negative connotations for a large segment of the world that the Christian church is trying to reach, and is not found in God’s sacred storybook, should another term or phrase replace it?” (Steffen and Douglas 34). While there are no conclusions here, the raising of the question from prominent missiologists demonstrates the shift occurring within the field of missiology and missions today. Similar to the sentiment expressed above, Raymo and Raymo also bring into question the usage of the term “missionary,” especially as it relates to the millennial generation (28-29).

Essential to our exploration of terms is the Latin expression Missio Dei. Missio Dei is a common term used by both ecumenists and evangelicals. It is defined by Moreau, Corwin and McGee as “a comprehensive term encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on the earth” (71).

David Bosch rightly acknowledges that, “Mission has its origin in the fatherly heart of God” (240). Mission that resonates with this generation of cross-cultural workers must be understood from this perspective. For to separate mission from God leads us to charitable intentions, yet lacking the power for true transformation in the heart of the goer and receiver.

Charles Van Engen appropriately contends, “We cannot have mission without the Bible, nor can we understand the Bible apart from God’s mission” (37). The Bible is the main source for missions and must be understood as a means of contributing to the ultimate task of the Missio Dei. Scripture plays a role in defining unchanging truth to a changing context.

Steffen and Douglas note that, “Christian witness is always lived out in social environments influenced and shaped by local and global economics, politics and religions” (343). These are critical topics that demonstrate the importance of an interdisciplinary understanding of the field. As Van Engen notes, “Theology of mission, then, must eventually emanate in biblically informed and contextually appropriate missional action” (25). It must not remain static or purely theoretical. This need emphasizes the place of an appropriate contextualization to each of the explored trends and issues that follow in the coming weeks.

 

Works Cited

Bosch, David. Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective London: Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1980. Print.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary Corwin and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2015. Print.

Raymo, Jim and Judy Raymo. Millennials and Mission: A Generation Faces a Global Challenge. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2014. Print.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008. Print.

Van Engen, Charles. Mission on the Way. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996. Print.

Global ministry trends and issues, part one: Discerning the times in global mission

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part one: Discerning the times in global mission Written on July 18th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Theology

This is the first post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Taken from the El Cristo statue in Bolivia, looking out onto the city of Cochabamba.

Over the next eight weeks, I will be presenting some of the current movements and trends within global mission efforts today. As contexts of mission shift, theory and practice must also keep up the pace. A primary motif within current mission literature seeks to understand current issues and trends in the field. One thing that must not change is the theological basis to global mission. Theology and mission must be closely tied as we re-consider and reconfigure what we mean by global mission in an age of radical change. Too frequently in the past, our theologies have remained dormant and detached from social realities. And likewise, mission has been divorced from a strong theological foundation, manifested, in some cases, more like a social service disconnected from God’s central purpose in building his kingdom. When this all happens, “The result is a theology divorced from human realities and a missiology that lacks theological foundations” (Paul Hiebert 38).

There are a number of shifts taking place in global mission today. Strategies and approaches will need to be assessed to keep up with current events. One example from this past week is the new Russian law that prevents one from sharing his or her faith outside of a church or religious building (including online and in residential buildings). The new law, which was attached to anti-terrorism amendments, goes into effect on Wednesday, July 20. (For more on this law see Forum 18 – a local news source in the region.) How should mission organizations and others deeply concerned about growing God’s kingdom respond? What is the best approach to missional activity in such a restricted context?

Other issues we will consider in the coming weeks are new mission terms. Even historic and traditional ways of describing mission are being debated. The issue of nomenclatures and mission program titles has, as of recent, been included in mission conferences and frequently debated in recent works. Take, for example, the recent American Society of Missiology’s annual meeting (2015) and the Professor of Mission conference as they discussed such topics as Missio-logoi: The Many Languages of Mission and What’s in a Name? Assessing Mission Studies Program Titles. These are current issues that are reflective of the changes taking place in the field. Even our own mission program at Multnomah recently went through some significant changes. See Global Studies for more on MU’s own experience with this topic.

Andrew Kirk writes from a conciliar position on mission as he explores the need to incorporate a broad missiological foundation that includes mission to the poor, creation care, contextualization, social justice, pluralism, violence and peacemaking, and global partnerships. In his proposal, he suggests that mission be inclusive of a broad range of issues (24, 28-29). One of the stronger emphases noted in the writings of Kirk is how many of Jesus’ friends were indeed outsiders. The poor, with whom Jesus associated, were much more than those who did not own property; rather, they were people who had been intentionally disadvantaged and forbidden to enter into the life of civil society. They were forced to become powerless to make any difference in society (48). Given the place of the poor and marginalized in Scripture, they will be a primary motif in the coming weeks as well.

As we discuss trends and movements within global mission today, we must remember that mission knowledge is built upon the past and mission praxis is built upon the present. This review will seek to keep an eye on both.

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The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque in Beirut, Lebanon.

Works Cited

Hiebert, Paul. “Missiological Education for a Global Era.” In Missiological Education for the 21st Century: The Book, the Circle and the Sandals, edited by Edgar J. Elliston, Charles Van Engen and J. Dudley Woodberry. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. Print.

Kirk, Andrew. What Is Mission? Theological Explorations. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000.

MU professor co-leads pastoral conference in Malawi, Africa

Comments Off on MU professor co-leads pastoral conference in Malawi, Africa Written on May 20th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Missions, Pray For MU, Theology

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MU professor Roger Trautmann will be conducting the Pastors’ Enrichment Conference in Malawi, East Africa May 24-25. Trautmann, along with  Carl Palmer from Global Training Network, was chosen by the Luis Palau Association to lead the event, which will draw nearly 800 pastors.

Many African church leaders face a startling deficit of biblical and pastoral training, which is exactly what promoted the Luis Palau Association to launch a leadership conference for local pastors. “In East Africa, pastors have little access to good training,” says Trautmann, who will be teaching on topics such as Bible study methods and the Pastoral Epistles. But lack of preparation doesn’t mean lack of motivation. “I’ve met pastors who’ve started 20 churches, and they’ve never had any official training,” he adds.

Although Trautmann has taught at this conference once before, he’s been conducting workshops for pastors in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burkina Faso for many years. “They’re hungry for good training,” he says. “That’s why I’ve been participating since 1994.”

During the conference, please pray that God would give both Trautmann and Palmer Christ’s wisdom as they teach and His power as they work to strengthen the Church in Africa. Pray also that the pastors and leaders in attendance would be encouraged and challenged during this powerful outreach.

 

MU launches online version of MA in Global Development and Justice program

Comments Off on MU launches online version of MA in Global Development and Justice program Written on February 11th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Programs

Multnomah University has launched an online version of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program. The 18-month program will kick off with two weeks in Rwanda, where students will take their first two courses, embark on study tours and connect with practitioners. All subsequent courses will be taken online, and students will take two eight-week courses at a time.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be face to face with students at the beginning of the program,” says MAGDJ Director Dr. Greg Burch. “This contextual residency will provide time for cohort members to get to know one another and begin developing the community we envision for the online portion of this educational experience.”

Burch proposed the blended program so students who weren’t able to join MU’s on-campus cohorts could still earn the MAGDJ degree. “The blended program allows for us to pull in students from around the globe who are passionate about global justice and community development,” he says. “We hope to create a strong community as we wrestle together with complex issues that need carefully crafted solutions to bring lasting transformation.”

The first cohort is set to begin in July 2016. Burch is hoping for a good turnout. Things are looking promising: The new program has already sparked interest across the globe. “We’ve received inquiries about the blended program from practitioners in Colombia, India, Kenya, Rwanda and Lebanon,” says Burch. “They see the possibilities for acquiring a new set of skills that will take them to new heights.”

Burch says one of the main benefits prospective students recognize is that they don’t need to leave their work or family. “It can be difficult for global leaders to move to the U.S. or even to a new state,” he says. “This program allows them to stay where they are, keep a flexible schedule, and direct their research in very practical ways for their career and ministry.”

In the years ahead, Burch envisions the new program contributing to MU’s global campus by including students in developing nations. “With the help of Multnomah donors, we anticipate having a significant participation of underrepresented groups in this program,” he says. “We believe it will be necessary to provide significant scholarships, and we’re praying the Lord will provide for students who don’t have the economic means to pay.”

As the program continues to mature, Burch foresees adding contextual residency locations in Asia and Latin America.

To learn more about this program, visit multnomah.edu/blendedMAGDJ, or you can contact Dr. Greg Burch at gburch@multnomah.edu.

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Photo/Jonathan Isensee