Missiology: Models of Mission in the 20th Century Ecumenical Movement

Created by Global Ministries and Wider Church Ministries staff, the goal of this document includes giving context and background of missiology in ecumenical circles showing that we are part of a larger tradition. United Church of Christ, Christian Church/Disciples of Christ, WCM/CGMB are part of these ecumenical theologies and missiologies at our very being. They have influenced us and we them.

These models are not exhaustive. There are many other ways to examine this context of ecumenical missiology – changing understandings of church, of geography, of partnership and participation from various parts of world, of communication, of colonialism, of globalization, of trinity, of diversity, of dialogue, of religion and religions, of diversity within religions.

Beads and pipe cleaners can be used as a hands-on visual aid to communicate that all of these models of mission continue to be operative and intersect with each other in different ways and with different emphases at various times and places in our understandings of mission.

Six Models of Mission

  1. Church-Centered Mission
  2. Missio Dei (God’s Mission)
  3. The Church for Others
  4. Kenosis (Self-Emptying) of Incarnation
  5. Mission In the Concrete Realities of Life
  6. Mission as the Fullness of Life

1. Church-Centered Mission

  • Church does mission and mission is for the sake of planting and building the church – carry over of Rufus Anderson’s theory of a three-self movement of self-governing, self-propagating, self-sustaining churches
  • A focusing biblical text: Matt 28: 19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
  • Ecumenical meetings with this as a primary emphasis -- Edinburgh World Missionary Conference, 1910; Tambaram meeting of IMC, 1938
  • Emphasis on making disciples, baptizing, teaching – debates about which should come first and HOW mission should best be accomplished

2. Missio Dei (God’s Mission)

  • God is a missionary God, people therefore are missionary; church is sent by God
  • A focusing biblical text: John 17: 20-21  “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
  • Ecumenical meetings with this as a primary emphasis: Willingen meeting of IMC,1952; and beyond
  • Emphasis on God as a missionary God -- mission from the nature of God, attribute of God – trinity is a model of mission
  • Emphasis on unity of the church – because it is God’s mission we all participate with God
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • 1966 Stephen Neill: “The age of missions is at an end; the age of mission has begun”
    • Karl Barth 1952: “the church exists in being sent and in building up itself for the sake of its mission”

3. The Church for Others

  • 1966 study project of IMC called, “The missionary structure of the congregation” working groups in 1967 described the goal of mission: Shalom (European, Hoekendijk) humanization (N. American group)
  • A biblical focus: Example: Old Testament -- Johannes Blauw, The Missionary Nature of the Church, OT in general is missionary – evangelization is “the presence of the people of God in the midst of humanity, the presence of God among his people”
  • Ecumenical meetings with this as a primary emphasis: Mexico City meeting of IMC, 1963; Uppsala WCC Assembly, 1968
  • emphasis on God’s work in the world –Church is only intermezzo between God and world -World is locus of continuing encounter between God and humanity.
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • Uppsala, 1968: “ [humanity] cries passionately and articulately for a fully human life” 
    • Uppsala, 1968: not God-church-world but God-world-church; mission means to participate in secular programs for urban renewal, civil rights movement; humanization
  • emphasis on new missionary frontier which runs around world, became line between belief and unbelief in every country new understanding of geography and of interfaith relations (dialogue explored)
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • Mexico City, 1963 article: Witness in 6 Continents: “every Christian congregation in all the world is called to show the love of God in Christ, in witness and service to the world at its doors” 
    • Goal of mission, Mexico City: “It must be a common witness of the whole church, bringing the whole gospel to the whole world”

4. Kenosis (Self-Emptying) of Incarnation

  • A focusing biblical text: Phil 2: 5-8  “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.”
  • Ecumenical meetings with this as a primary emphasis: Willingen meeting of IMC, 1952; New Mexico meeting of IMC, 1963; Uppsala WCC Assembly, 1968
  • Emphasis on “Christian Presence” M.A.C. Warren, ed “Christian presence Series” – adopted in “The Church for Others” at Uppsala, 1968
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • World Student Christian Federation emphasized presence, incarnation (Baasham, p. 72) – Identification of Christ with human situation – identification of Christians with people they wished to serve and witness to – personal encounter, open expectant attitude toward others ; dialogue
    • Example: worker-priest movement in France 1944-54 engage in life of people as co-workers in mines and industry
    • Example: Charles de Foucauld, French RC, Muslims in North Africa – approach other religions with deep sympathy instead of attack

5. Mission In the Concrete Realities of Life

  • A focusing biblical text: Luke 4: 16-21 “When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
  • Ecumenical meetings with this as a primary emphasis: Bangkok meeting of CWME, 1973 (IMC merged with WCC in New Delhi WCC Assembly 1972 so World Mission and Evangelism became a department of WCC); Nairobi WCC assembly, 1975; Melbourne meeting of CWME, 1980; Vancouver WCC assembly, 1983
  • Emphasis – liberation: economic liberation theology, began in Central/South America (key term, solidarity, accompaniment); revolution
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • Bangkok CWME, 1973: There is an interdependence between people and nations in the world community. We need to dialogue to work together to meet human necessities, relieve human suffering, establish social justice, share in the struggle for peace
    • Nairobi WCC Assembly, 1975: Development process (education, human rights, sexism, racism) – secular bodies have the main responsibility for this. Christians are “to assist in the definition, validation, and articulation of just political, economic and social objectives and in translating them into action.” The criterion for these objectives was a “sustainable global society”
    • Melbourne meeting of CWME, 1980 used phrase “God’s preferential option for the poor” that had been used in 1979 at the Puebla Conference of Latin American Catholic Bishops – referring to: solidarity with poor and oppressed as central priority in Christian mission – identification of Jesus with the poor, divine judgment on oppressors
  • Emphasis – liberation: cultural liberation theology, began in Africa and Asia (key terms, indigenization, inculturation, contextualization; local theologies)
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • local situation emphasized; Variety of local theologies – plurality of cultures presupposes a plurality of theologies 
    • Incarnation is ongoing. Emphasis not on expanding the church, but in having the church born anew in each new context and culture.
    • Vancouver WCC Assembly, 1983: There are aspects within each culture that deny life and oppress people – celebrate a plurality of cultures
    • Cultural pluralism is God’s intent:
  • Emphasis – dialogue – the WCC sub-unit on dialogue helps bring document: “Dialogue with People of Living Faith” focuses on God’s movement toward people leading into wholeness and wider community. – Christians to discover God’s activity among people of other faiths.
  • Dialogue with People of Living Faith: “Because they share common human aspirations and responsibility for others, Christians ought to engage in dialogue with those also concerned about ultimate questions “

6. Mission as the Fullness of Life

  • New Heaven and New Earth -- Whole of Creation in Scope
  • A focusing biblical text: Revelation 21: 1, 5:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.”
  • Ecumenical meetings with this as a primary emphasis: Seoul, 1990, WCC meeting affirming Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC); Canberra WCC Assembly, 1991; CWME meeting, Salvador, 1996; Harrare WCC Assembly, 1998; CWME meeting, 2005
  • Emphasis on wholistic mission
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • Mission and Evangelism Document of WCC Central Committee, 1982, expresses the following ecumenical convictions for mission: : conversion; gospel to all realms of life; church and its unity in God’s mission; mission in Christ’s way; good news to the poor; mission in and to 6 continents; witness among people of living faiths
  • Emphasis on whole creation
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • 1990 Seoul meeting on Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation: JPIC is the vision of all people living on earth and caring for creation as a family where each member has the same right to wholeness of life
  • Emphasis on Reconciliation
  • Illustrating quotations:
    • Canberra WCC Assembly, 1991 had meeting theme of “Come, Holy Spirit – Renew the Whole Creation.” Concluding documents included: “through our acceptance of the ministry of reconciliation, we become a missionary people, not in that sense of dominating over peoples and nations which has all too often characterized mission work, but in the sense of sharing God’s own mission of brining all humanity into communion with God through Christ in the power of the Spirit, sharing our faith and our resources with all people”
    • Letter from 2005 CWME meeting on reconciliation
  • CGMB’s 5 Guiding Principles are influenced by and influence the articulation of the Fullness of Life missiology

BIBLICAL QUOTATIONS IN THIS PRESENTATION

Matt 28: 19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

John 17: 20-21 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Old Testament -- Johannes Blauw, The Missionary Nature of the Church, OT in general is missionary – evangelization is “the presence of the people of God in the midst of humanity, the presence of God among his people”

Luke 4: 16-21 “When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

Revelation 21: 1, 5:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.”

ILLUSTRATING QUOTATIONS IN THIS PRESENTATION

Missio Dei Section:

  • 1966 Stephen Neill: “The age of missions is at an end; the age of mission has begun”
  • Karl Barth 1952: “the church exists in being sent and in building up itself for the sake of its mission”

Church for Others Section:

  • Uppsala, 1968: “ [humanity] cries passionately and articulately for a fully human life”
  • Uppsala, 1968: not God-church-world but God-world-church; mission means to participate in secular programs for urban renewal, civil rights movement; humanization
  • Mexico City, 1963 article: Witness in 6 Continents: “every Christian congregation in all the world is called to show the love of God in Christ, in witness and service to the world at its doors”
  • Goal of mission, Mexico City: “It must be a common witness of the whole church, bringing the whole gospel to the whole world”

Kenosis Section, Christian Presence:

  • World Student Christian Federation emphasized presence and incarnation which they interpreted as – Identification of Christ with human situation – identification of Christians with people they wished to serve and witness to – personal encounter, open expectant attitude toward others ; dialogue

Mission in the Concrete Realities of Life:

  • Bangkok CWME, 1973: There is an interdependence between people and nations in the world community. We need to dialogue to work together to meet human necessities, relieve human suffering, establish social justice, share in the struggle for peace
  • Nairobi WCC Assembly, 1975: Development process (education, human rights, sexism, racism) – secular bodies have the main responsibility for this. Christians are “to assist in the definition, validation, and articulation of just political, economic and social objectives and in translating them into action.” The criterion for these objectives was a “sustainable global society”
  • Melbourne meeting of CWME, 1980 used phrase “God’s preferential option for the poor” that had been used in 1979 at the Puebla Conference of Latin American Catholic Bishops – referring to: solidarity with poor and oppressed as central priority in Christian mission – identification of Jesus with the poor, divine judgment on oppressors
  • Vancouver WCC Assembly, 1983: There are aspects within each culture that deny life and oppress people – celebrate a plurality of cultures
  • Dialogue with People of Living Faith: “Because they share common human aspirations and responsibility for others, Christians ought to engage in dialogue with those also concerned about ultimate questions

Mission as the Fullness of Life, Reconciliation:

  • Canberra WCC Assembly, 1991 had meeting theme of “Come, Holy Spirit – Renew the Whole Creation.” Concluding documents included: “through our acceptance of the ministry of reconciliation, we become a missionary people, not in that sense of dominating over peoples and nations which has all too often characterized mission work, but in the sense of sharing God’s own mission of brining all humanity into communion with God through Christ in the power of the Spirit, sharing our faith and our resources with all people”

LIST OF ECUMENICAL MEETINGS REFERENCED IN THIS PRESENTATION

  • World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910
  • International Missionary Conference, Jerusalem, 1928
  • International Missionary Conference, Tambaram, 1938
  • International Missionary Conference, Willigen, 1952
  • International Missionary Conference, Mexico City, 1963
  • WCC Assembly, Uppsala, 1968
  • WCC Assembly, New Delhi, 1972
  • Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), Bangkok, 1973
  • WCC Assembly, Nairobi, 1975
  • Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, Melbourne, 1980
  • WCC Assembly, Vancouver, 1983
  • WCC Assembly, Canberra, 1991
  • Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, Salvador, 1996
  • WCC Assembly, Harrare, 1998
  • Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, 2005

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.