Michael Goheen on Christian mission today

I am always interested in mission, because without missionaries going to my home country more than a hundred years ago, I would never have known Jesus.

Recently I have been reading Michael W. Goheen’s Introducing Christian Mission Today (Downers Grove: IVP), 2014. I bought this book because of the recommendations by quite a few missiologists and scholars. Christopher J. H. Wright, for example, says the following about the book.

Very few people can combine multiple areas of expertise in their own thinking, let alone in a single book. Mike Goheen is one of those few. This wide-ranging survey is the fruit of a true teacher’s passion for the whole scope of his discipline. We are led steadily to understand mission from its biblical foundations, in theological reflection, through millenia of historical practice, across multiple cultural and ecclesial contexts, to the most urgent issues facing the church in mission today and tomorrow. Theologically enriching, reliably informative, and both conceptually and practically challenging.

A quick look at the table of contents and the first few chapters will show that Christopher Wright is right here. In the following I will cite a few things I have read so far.

Goheen starts with a brief summary of his understanding of mission (pages 25–26). First, he says that mission is not so much about “witness in six continents.” Also, it is not from Europe and North America to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Rather, it is “from all six continents.”

Second, Goheen thinks that mission is not primarily “what the church does.” Instead,

the church must understand its mission as participation in the mission of the triune God. And this mission has a communal nature: it is a mission of God’s people. Often evangelism and cross-cultural missions are understood in individualistic ways. However, mission is the calling of a people. Finally, the scope of mission is as broad as creation because God’s mission is the redemption of his whole world. (Pages 25–26)

Third, mission is not mainly about geographical expansion. Rather,

[mission is] the task given to God’s people everywhere to communicate the good news not only with their words but also with their lives and deeds. Mission is witness in life, word and deed. Putting “life” before “word” and “deed” is intentional: the gospel is first of all communicated in the lives of believers, both in their communal life together and as they are scattered in the world. (Page 26)

Finally, Goheen seems to agree with The Lausanne Covenant in 1974.

Mission is the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole person in the whole world. (Page 26)

One thought on “Michael Goheen on Christian mission today

  1. Pingback: Michael Goheen on the early church paradigm of mission | Imagine with Scripture

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