Cathy Ross and Colin Smith, eds., Missional Conversations: A Dialogue between Theory and Praxis in World Mission.
The book Missional Conversations: A Dialogue between Theory and Praxis in World Mission comes as a collection of essays that seek to initiate dialogue between missional theory and practice, rooted in narratives and conversations. The book is divided into two parts: Context of Mission and Expression of Mission. In explaining the context of mission, authors focus on the areas of the environment, migration, interfaith, economic disparity, and urbanization. A second set of authors presents community, new forms of church, southern mission movement, innovation, and imagination as expressions of mission.
Placing the environment at the very beginning of the collection of essays, the editors do well to centre the issue in missional conversations. David Bookless presents creation care as not only a context but the object of mission. Amy Ross, in conversation with Bookless, presents case studies from Argentina, the United Kingdom, Ghana, and Uganda. Next, the missional conversation between authors shifts to the issue of migration. Daniel G. Groody seeks to find symbolism in the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea in order to derive a missiological response to the global refugee crisis. In response to this, Amy Roche discusses the "invisible in the world" in the form of migrant domestic workers living in Beirut, Lebanon.
Mark Poulson and Richard Sudworth engage in a conversation on interfaith relations. While the former details his journey in Southall, London, the latter builds the theory around the praxis of interfaith as "being with" instead of "working with" people of other faiths. A dialogue on economic disparity is presented by David Barclay and John Wheatley, both of whom focus on relationships, power, listening, and action by providing a Christian response and a relationship response, respectively. Dealing with the issue of urbanization, Ash Barker presents his experiences in the slums of Bangkok, while Stephan De Beer proposes that a church "from below" that seeks collaboration on common concerns will help in building urban shalom communities, which could be the much-needed solution for commercialized cities like Bangkok.
Part Two focuses on the expressions of mission that are visible in today's world. Elisa Padilla passionately shares her experience of community at the Kairos Centre in Argentina. While it may not be considered an idyllic community, the centre endeavours to represent kingdom values in praxis. Berdine Van Den's article gravitates around Padilla's experience and in theorizing a missional response to idea of a community.
It is remarkable that the book chooses to discuss the issue of new forms of church. It comes as a breath of fresh air and highlights the shift from what God is doing in the church to what God is doing in the world. Andrea Campanale's experience of God's work in the world through her journey at Sacred Space, Kingston (UK), highlights a characteristic of modern-day mission that cannot be missed--church is now taking shape beyond ecclesiastical institutional boundaries and finding its place in the world. In response, Michael Movnagh celebrates the church's model of companionship and proposes that the church must be in constant conversation with the world on behalf of Christ.
A conversation on new forms of mission movements merits the discussion of the ever-widening and growing influence of Pentecostal and charismatic movements in the global South. Kyama Mugambi does just that by presenting the audacity, intentionality, and hope of such movements. In response, Harvey Kwiyani traces the remarkable changes that have occurred in the traditional understanding of mission between Edinburgh 1910 and 2010-mission now being a from-everywhere-to-everywhere phenomenon.
Further on, the conversation between authors shifts to the issue of social innovation and the place of innovation in mission. Dennis Tongoi explores congruence and tension embodied in the ideas of business and religion. He concludes that churches need to embrace social innovation. Paul Bickley adds his voice here, noting that social innovation is an opportunity for renewal in mission and the possibilities that social innovation has to offer to churches.
It is apt that the book at its tail end presents a dialogical conversation between Jonny Baker and Ric Scott, who discuss imagination and mission. Both authors present imagination as a crucial factor in participating in and exploring the missio Dei. Imagination as a missional issue is a less explored area academically and holds immense promises for future discussions.
Ian Adam provides an exegetical Epilogue to the book with a missiological reading of the story of Anna and Simeon in Luke chapter two. He proposes that given the turbulence of contemporary times generated by wars, mass migration, persecution, and economic disparities, among other issues, mission practitioners need to nurture a resilient form of spiritual life that he refers to as mission spirituality. It is one that involves attention, presence, love, and devotion.
The book has 23 authors, 17 male and six female, who contribute to 19 chapters. Most of these are based in Europe, with just a few authors presenting the context of South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Argentina, and Lebanon. Thus, the book largely overlooks the context of Asia (with the exception of one article on Bangkok) and Asian voices. Given the book's limited global representation, the term world mission in the title does seem a bit overstated. However, the book is worth a read due to its openness to a wide variety of missiological issues that are dealt with in the form of a conversation and not as normative missiology.
Abhishek Prabhakar John
North East India Coordinator
Evangelical Fellowship of India Religious Liberty
Commission, Guwahati, India
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|Author:||John, Abhishek Prabhakar|
|Publication:||International Review of Mission|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2019|
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