Tim Jeffrey with Steve Chalke, Spring Harvest, 2003, 158 pages, £7.99, ISBN 1 85078 482 5
‘Our unity and calling to a common purpose are more important than our differences in doctrine.’ In these days of doctrinal difficulties, these are interesting words from a controversial book on global mission. Essentially, this book fires a broadside across the traditional methods of being church and is packed with ideas for making the church more mission orientated in an age of globalisation.
It begins with a chapter on globalisation and explains how interconnected we now are with different cultures across the world. It asserts that globalisation is the driving force behind many human developments, affecting cultures, economies, communication, technology, politics and so forth. In saying this, the authors recognise the Christian Church as one of the largest, and potentially most effective, global networks, if only we can break away from past thinking and ways of doing things.
There is an interesting insight into the contrast between modernity, an era in which the church seems to be locked, and postmodernity, the age in which we now live. Without doubt the church faces new challenges like the loss of faith in absolutes, cynicism towards reason and science as the providers of the solutions to the world’s problems and relativism, which holds that there is no longer a single source of truth. This is summed up in the phrase ‘old certainties no longer seem to work and trusted methods don’t produce the results they once did’
Traditionally, mission has been through missionary agencies, which are deemed to have the expertise and contacts to make mission work. Increasingly churches are bypassing these agencies and forging direct links with churches or people in other countries. In so doing they can be sure that their time and money is targeted in a way which they approve of and can organise exchanges with the people they are helping.
Reference is made to the Lausanne Covenant and its emphasis on (a) working together rather than in competition, (b) communicating the gospel in deed as well as word and (c) the need for biblical theology and mission strategy to be consistent. The book concludes with a number of examples of churches which have embraced the new thinking and how it has impacted upon their church life. It is also packed with suggestions of how to go about developing a mission strategy for the 21st century.
Reviewed by Roger Johnson, District Evangelism Enabler, Nottingham and Derby District.
Headline 2003, p.25