Mission in the 21st Century – “Huge challenges for the church…”

Posted by Colin Corbridge on Fri, 10 Oct 2008 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

“The old ways of doing mission are rooted in our culture – and they don’t apply to global mission today”, claimed Tim Dakin, CMS Britain’s General Secretary, at a recent gathering of clergy in Belfast.

Speaking during the session, hosted by CMS Ireland, Canon Dakin explained that rapidly changing global situations meant that there were significant challenges for those looking to engage in contemporary mission.

Chief amongst the issues to be addressed was, he said, that of migration and its impact on the understanding of faith within and across cultures. Facing these challenges was, he remarked, the job of the church – and this had, to some extent, always been the case. He noted that “the first global movement was Christianity” and talked about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in Acts, as the beginning of intercultural mission on a mass scale.

Ian Smith, CMS Ireland’s Director of Mission, commented, “There are huge challenges for the church as it seeks to make sense of mission in light of the cultural shifts happening all around us. As the global landscape changes, the Church in Ireland needs to find new ways of relating to its global partners. We believe that CMS Ireland – and indeed the wider CMS family – have an important role to play.”

Canon Dakin explained that, in his opinion, it would be impossible to fully grasp what the future in mission might look like without first understanding our past. He also suggested that, as we looked to the future it was vital to have a carefully considered missional eschatology.

Speaking after the event, Archdeacon Stephen Lowry commented, “Often mission events are so focused on a local need or overseas partnership that we lose sight of the big picture. Tim gave an expansive perspective on the mission of God. It was heavy stuff but well worthwhile hearing. Food for much thought.”

The ‘Mission in the 21st Century’ talk came as part of two-day visit to Ireland where Canon Dakin also had the opportunity to share with CMS Ireland staff, directors and volunteers.