EFAC Australia


Bishop Michael Nazir Ali asserts that churches are called to engage in mission from everywhere to everywhere. By that I take him to mean that mission is to be at the heart of church life, that all Christians are called to be witnesses to Jesus in the words we speak and the lives we live wherever we live. But more than that, churches are called to have an involvement in both local mission and global mission.

In my experience if churches engage in mission at all they are locally focused and tend to leave the global to the enthusiastic few. However, as congregations recognise the primacy of their global nature and calling they will be far more effective in their local mission and outreach. As Bishop Lesslie Newbigin wrote in his 1994 book The Open Secret, “Mission is the proclaiming of God's kingship over all human history and over the whole cosmos. Mission is concerned with nothing less than all that God has begun to do in the creation of the world and of humankind. Its concern is not sectional but total and universal.'

This is an edited version of the 2008 EFAC Victoria AGM Dinner address by David Williams, the new CMS Australia Director of Training and Strategy

Bible and Mission

Missiology is perhaps one of the newest disciplines in the theological world, and perhaps also one of the most problematic. If you work in a theological college teaching Greek, everyone is pretty clear what your job description is. If you teach New Testament, Old Testament, Church History, even Doctrine or Ethics, there is fair degree of clarity about what your academic discipline involves. But Missiology, as a theological discipline, is a bit of a minefield. What is mission? How do we determine its boundaries? The boundaries of mission have spread wider and wider. But as Stephen Neill said, "if everything is mission, nothing is mission."

The debate about the nature of mission took a decisive turn at the Lausanne Conference of 1974. At Lausanne, the voice of 2/3rds world theologians was heard loudly and clearly, particularly speaking into the debate on the relationship between evangelism and social responsibility within mission. The 1974 Lausanne conference and the contributions made by Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar marked a sea change in the evangelical world's understanding about mission. Padilla and Escobar argued along the following lines: an aeroplane needs two wings to be an aeroplane. Mission needs evangelism and social responsibility to be mission. Mission is an inseparable, integral, holistic blend of proclamation, evangelism, social action, advocacy, justice.