The church, whether we think of it in its local or universal sense, is the gathered people of God. We are, in New Testament terms, the ekklēsia, the people who are “called out” of the world by God and for God. We are, in Old Testament terms, the qahal, the “assembly” who unite under God’s covenant in worship and service. We are, in missiological terms, the people God sends into the world to bear witness of what he has done and to call others into relationship with him. A people called out of the world to serve the world—this is what John Stott called the church’s “double identity.” This identity is so important in God’s eternal plan that we would all benefit from studying it more deeply. This issue of Mission Round Table intends to help us on the way by giving us things to think about, showing us what being the church looks like in various settings, and reminding us that our mission practice should be solidly grounded in a biblical and historical ecclesiology.
The Church Local, Wider, and Universal: A Study in Diversity, Unity, and Relationships – Ray Porter
This paper contrasts the way early believers understood the church with the reality that whereas OMF perform many “churchly activities,” from a practical point of view it does “not really have a working ecclesiology.” It lays some biblical bases for understanding the church, overviews some historical understandings of its nature, questions the concept of a mission agency from Scripture, and proposes some policies to help mission agencies work with the local church.
History and Context: Shaping Mission and Church – Rose Dowsett
In broad brushstrokes, this paper paints a backdrop that highlights the influence various evangelical groups in nineteenth century England had upon the young Hudson Taylor. It looks at how his Methodist heritage, revivalism, and his association with significant members of the growing Open Brethren movement shaped his thinking and practice as he founded the China Inland Mission and have impacted many of the organization’s ecclesiastical practices to this day.
Ministry Training for the Majority – David Burke
This paper challenges us to train church leaders in a way that best serves the church in its mission even if that is not the standard method followed in Bible colleges and theological seminaries today. It addresses a key question: what kinds of ministry education will best serve the church of the twenty-first century as it plays its part in the mission of God? The article addresses this question through a series of sub-questions: Who is teaching what, to whom, why, and how?
Teaching God’s Word to a People from an Animistic Background – Hans Christoph Bär
In doing grassroots evangelism and leadership training among the Karen in Thailand for more than two decades, Hans Bär has observed how the Karen’s animistic background and worldview affect their understanding and practice of the Christian faith. His article draws out implications that the animistic context may have on teaching the Bible.
Let the Nations Be Partners: Pioneering and Partnering in the Plan of God – Thomas McIntyre
From his experiences in church planting in southern Taiwan, Thomas shares personal lessons about partnering with the local church. Lessons include working with partners in humility, “knowing what is essential and what is not,” and adopting a model of church that makes sense to the local people.
OMF Mobilisation and the Church – Dick Dowsett
This paper addresses some important issues faced by mobilizers and other mission representatives as they interact with home country churches in their desire to best prepare and send people into overseas mission. Many questions can and should be asked as we seek to discover who is responsible for what in mission.
A Meditation on the Church in Antioch and Mission – Walter McConnell
This paper is a meditation on the church in Antioch sending out two of its most gifted leaders. Using the text from Acts, it argues that the church was multi-ethnic from its early years and that its worship held open the possibility that the Holy Spirit could move them to set aside members for ministry elsewhere even if he did not indicate precisely where they should go.