Mission as Saying, Doing and Being

Traditionally, mission has been seen as “saying”; that is evangelism and communication of the Gospel. In the mid 1900s there was a change: mission became “doing”; that is action, more to the point social and political action. This was most obvious in the late sixties and early seventies in the ecumenical movement, in and around the World Council of Churches. At a similar time some mission thinkers, especially Max Warren propounded a missiology of “presence”. To be with the people with whom we are working is to “take off our shoes”, “recognise we walk on holy ground” and to be “present”.

The question should be asked as to whether all of these approaches alone are reductionist to a wholistic gospel. Even having all three in our mission engagement and emphasising one over the other two seems to me to perpetuate a reductionism. All three, integrated into the life of the local church is the church’s biggest challenge.

The local church, rightly understood as a viable expression of the universal church, is the only group that can say, do and be without over inflating one or reducing another. It must be in order to do and say. It must say in order to explain its being and doing and it must do to validate its saying and being.