Friday, 5 March 2010

Transforming Mission

An excerpt from a recent essay of mine.

'David Bosch argues in Transforming Mission that the ‘bourgeois church of the West’[1] has a flawed understanding of the Incarnation and therefore has an ‘idealist understanding of itself.’[2] This in turn has led it to no longer takes sides and identify itself to a particular group, and in doing so has lost its identity completely. Whereas Jesus is seen as the One who identifies with the marginalized and oppressed, wearily walking the dusty roads of Palestine and finding solidarity with victims, the church in the West has refused to engage in its communities in such a way and has therefore lost its relevance.[3] The Christian faith, argues Bosch, is ‘intrinsically incarnational’[4]and therefore, unless it chooses otherwise, should always enter into the reality and culture and context it finds itself in. For those in India an alternative community is one that seeks to bring the future hope of the Kingdom to become a reality in their lives today through an incarnational approach. This can happen through holistic healing enabling people to be set free from the poverty and oppression they find themselves in....Without doubt the cultures in which the Indian church and Western church finds themselves in are vastly different. The expression of incarnational mission will look different because the cultures are so different, yet the principles are the same and can be applied in both scenarios. The Indian church understands and practices incarnational mission in such a way that it is an integral part of who they are and it seems to be something that the Western church in the 21st Century is struggling to understand and put into practice. Indeed, it may be that the Western church has not yet validly asked the question of itself about incarnational mission. The rise of Café church, emerging church and fresh expressions of church could be seen as a grappling with this question, about how its mission is to be expressed in the 21st Century. Yet it seems to this writer that incarnational mission for the Western church is very much still off the radar and whether or not it ever comes on the radar remains to be seen.

‘We need to hit the road again. We are people of the Way, and our path lies before us, inviting us into a new future in which we are permitted to shape and participate.’[5]

[1] Bosch, D.J., Transforming Mission p 513

[2] Ibid

[3] See Bosch, D.J., Transforming Mission p 512-513

[4] Bosch, D.J., Transforming Mission p 191

[5] Hirsch, Alan, The Forgotten Ways, p241

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