Missions & Culture

Well I’ve been away this week doing the fifth module of an MTh, this time it was Aspects of Modern Mission – Great stuff!

Now I grew up reading missionary stories, stories of men and women who gave up everything to go and tell the Good News of Jesus Christ in what were largely unknown places, sometimes it cost them their lives – I loved them and was inspired by them.

Today the story of missions is quite different, but nevertheless still as inspiring. The character of missions has changed, but the message hasn’t, what’s more it’s not only ‘over there’ it’s here, right on our doorstep.

The town I live in was predominately White English up until a few years ago – in fact I can remember going to Spring Harvest in the 1980’s (a big Christian event held over three weeks at Easter to accomodate the numbers), and hearing talk of a changing culture, pluralism etc and how we as Christians and the church should respond to it. Well, then it didn’t connect with me or the church I was in, my part of England was still very English indeed!

Today it’s very different, it’s fast becoming a town of many nations, and we are having to learn to do mission at home – to learn about and reach other cultures with the Good News of Jesus Christ, King and Saviour.

It also makes us reflect on our own culture – the early missionaries went to not only bring salvation but to ‘Christianise’ others, which tended to mean the imposition of a western colonial culture. Now we find ourselves asking in such a diverse world is there really one truly Christian culture? And with the world on our doorstep, how do we do reach so many people from different cultures? How do we build churches that are truly an expression of the manifold wisdom of God, a representation of the one new man in Jesus?

It’s easier to go the homogenous route, but that seems to deny the wisdom of God in the gospel, a gospel that not only breaks down the barriers between God and humanity, but all peoples.

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