Editorial: Mission is…

Anvil journal of theology and mission

Editorial: Mission is… | Anvil vol 34 issue 1

by Jonny Baker

Over the last six months Church Mission Society has been interviewing people to find out what they think mission is and mission is not. Debbie James and Thomas Fowler discuss some of the findings in their article. This campaign, called Mission Is, prompted us to dedicate an issue of Anvil to reflecting more on this question. We also made it the theme of the pioneer research conversations day in 2017, and two of the articles that follow (Mike Pears and Kyama Mugambi) are developed from presentations they made on that day.

I love how mission is a way of framing, a lens to think about and practise what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world. Mission is what God is doing to reconcile all things and we are invited to participate with God in that healing and transformation as Christ’s body. Mission resists being collapsed into solely evangelism or solely social transformation and it stops the church getting overly introverted or obsessed with itself because its focus is outward towards the whole world.

The energy of the church in mission in Africa is amazing and reading Kyama Mugambi’s article, Mission is not Western, you’ll get a feel for how mission is operating in a new paradigm that involves an explosion of church planting, social transformation and global gift exchange. Mike Pears brings the subject from the global to the local, thinking about the significance of place and geography in relation to mission and Cathy Ross keeps it real with a moving article on mission and lament.

Unlike the church in Africa, the church in the UK faces the challenge of navigating a changing landscape where interest in Christianity has waned and only a small percentage of the population consider church a part of their life. It’s in this environment that innovation and pioneering in mission have been seen as a muchneeded gift to reach beyond the edges of the church and to embrace the future. It often feels as though the church is in two minds about this.

She knows she needs innovation, but she doesn’t quite know what to make of new things that can be seen as threatening to the inherited ways of thinking and practising faith. Paul Bradbury and Tina Hodgett have designed an incredibly helpful map that offers a spectrum of pioneer ministry, which we are delighted to include in this issue and which adds some real insight to mission in the new environment.

Since CMS took on the hosting of Anvil, we have introduced articles that are reflections on practice, which we hope you have enjoyed. Mission is after all about practice and not just thinking or talking! Paul Ede’s piece shows how a local community have been participating in transformation with God and with their locale in a really inspiring fashion. Their approach is very much mission ‘with’ rather than ‘to’ or ‘for’, and mission from the ground up. The CMS interviews and survey with people around the question of what mission is showed that over 90 per cent of people we asked think mission is for everyone, but half the respondents also indicated that they aren’t sure how to get involved in mission. Paul’s article offers a really good example of how a local church community can get involved in ways that are renewing for them and for the community and fun to boot.

There are also three videos on the website edition, featuring Mike Pears, Ann Morrisy, and Kyama Mugambi who kindly agreed to be interviewed around the theme of ‘mission is’ at the pioneer conversations day, so do have a look at those too.

We welcome Isaac Frisby as the new book reviews editor. With the changeover of editor, there were no reviews in the last edition, but we are pleased to say they are back. A big thank you to Tom Wilson, who did a great job for several years as the previous book reviews editor.

We love to hear your feedback on Anvil so do email us at anvil@churchmissionsociety.org to let us know your reactions and thoughts.

CMS took on the hosting of Anvil in 2016 and have now produced five issues. The next three issues will be on the themes of youth ministry and mission, pioneering and missional ecclesiology. We welcome suggestions for articles. Before writing an article, do contact us first. Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy this issue.

About the author

Jonny Baker is the CMS Director of Mission Education and Pioneer Mission Leadership Training Course Leader

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