Mission and Church in the 21st Century
- Written by: Chris Appleby
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.