MRT 16.1 January 2021 – Innovation and Mission

Sharing the Good News in a New Age

This issue of Mission Round Table examines and evaluates some common ideas regarding innovation found in mission circles today. Christian workers feel a continual tension between the desires to attempt something new for God and to remain true to tradition. Some are driven by the new, the innovative, the cool. Others remain tied to the traditional, the tried, the true. It becomes the task of missionaries from every age to discern which innovations God would have them develop in order to bring his never changing word to a continually changing world.

Christian Mission and Innovation: The Experience of CIM/OMF in History, the Present, and the Future – Walter McConnel

A First Look at the Culture of Innovation within OMF – RC

Taiwan OMF: Seventy Years of Innovation to Keep on Doing the Same Thing – David Eastwood

A Call to Innovate: Our Vision Demands It – Andrew Goodman

A Field Director’s Musings about Innovation in OMF Thailand – Ulrich Kohler

Innovating Integral Mission – Sarah Hoskins

From Darkness into His Wonderful Light – AY

Moving Towards a More Fully Orbed Theology of “Being Jesus to Others” – Dale Viljoen

Experiment—Learn—Reflect—Make Policy: Reflections on the Early Days of Missional Business in OMF – Ian Prescott

Getting Out of God’s Way: Innovation During the Global Pandemic – Nathaniel Jennings

Conversion Growth in Akha Churches – Asholi Akamu, Kitsada Chahae and Neel Roberts

An Interview with Akha Leaders

Book review – Language Learning in Ministry: Preparing for Cross-Cultural Language Acquisition

The photos on the cover show how the spread of the gospel, linked with the development of technology, produced some enormous innovations that have made the Bible accessible to people all around the world. Whereas the Hebrew Bible had been available to Jews on scrolls, Christians adopted the new codex form of book—with individual pages all bound together along one edge—for the Bible and other literature. This innovation was more compact than the scroll, and simplified the arrangement of biblical books and looking up specific passages. Though all early Bibles were handwritten, the change from writing solely in uncials—capital letters—to minuscules—lower-case letters—speeded up reproduction and made them cheaper to produce.

As people from other countries turned to Christ, translations were made into other languages, so that, before Johannes Gutenberg’s revolutionary invention of the printing press, God’s word was available in at least twenty-five or thirty different languages. Gutenberg’s press not only paved the way for the Renaissance, Reformation, and Age of Enlightenment, it provided the technology for printing whole Bibles or portions (such as the Hakka Gospel of Mark) in more than two thousand different languages. More recent technologies have made it possible to add Bible apps to smart phones and other electronic devices and the development of video Bibles that bring God’s words of love and truth to people who communicate mainly through various sign languages.

As this issue of Mission Round Table demonstrates, missional innovations go far beyond the production and dissemination of Scripture. It becomes the task of missionaries from every age to discern which innovations God would have them develop in order to bring his never changing word to a continually changing world.

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