Understanding the Eras in Mission

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What did other generations get right about missions? Where did they struggle? What does that mean for us today as we face huge changes in mission challenges, structures and strategies? Consider these questions as you explore the eras in mission and then chart your course as you strive to reach the world for Christ.

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Engaging through Prayer

Dear God, it is amazing to look back in history and see how you have been on the move among the nations, leading your Church to carry out your mission. Thank you for all the faithful men and women who have moved your mission forward in times past and all the ways they obeyed you. Now help me to seize the day and live into my moment to be on mission with You! Amen


Personal Reflection

As you focus on your next frontier or opportunity in mission, do you assume that the past is irrelevant to the new challenges? The diversity of mission methods in other eras can stretch your thinking even if the situations then and now are vastly different. Do not look at mission history as an evolution where each stage is better than the one before. See it as set of stories where in each era, faithful people came at mission from a particular angle shaped by their time.


Engaging the Church

The 20th century approach to mission was an approach for a different era. It does not fit 21st century realities well, but what does? How far is your church locked into a 20th century model of mission? Where are you recognizing and engaging 21st century challenges? A look at past eras of mission may make your church more flexible and adaptable for coming years.


Organizational Application

Are you as a leader of a mission organization helping your people to chart the course they need to take on mission? Each of your people may be at a different point. Are you having an organizational conversation about how you view mission and your responsibility in it? Use this Missiographic as a conversation starter and consider using the charts and discussion questions in A Readers Guide to Transforming Mission to take your team deeper.


Content based on “Table 8. A Summary of Some Mission Models in Church History,” in Stan Nussbaum, A Reader’s Guide to Transforming Mission (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2005), summarizing information from David Bosch, Transforming Mission (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1991)


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