New and Emerging Mission Movements and Older Mission Agencies: Is meaningful partnership possible?

Author: Revd Canon Mark Oxbrow, International Coordinator of the Faith2Share network.


Mission agencies and churches do not have the best of records when it comes to partnership and collaboration in mission. Especially in evangelical circles we love to start our own thing and do it our own way. However the Biblical model for mission is one of collaboration and partnership.
The implications of Trinitarian theology for collaborative discipleship and mission have not always been readily understood, but in recent decades theologians such as Moltmann, Boff, Volf, and others have reminded us of the corporate, collaborative, nature of the being and life of God in Trinity and its implications for those who find themselves created in God’s image. The Missio Dei is by definition a collaborative action by Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and also a divine action which invited human participation, if not collaboration. “As the Father sent me so I send you.” (John 20:21) God has no necessity to engage humanity as agents of God’s own mission but chooses the risky course of partnership. This point is further underlined by Jesus’ own calling of disciples as co-workers to whom he eventually entrusts the task of global mission (Matthew 28:18-20). It is perhaps also significant that Jesus seems to have chosen as his co-workers a group of disciples with quite different theological and social outlooks – Zealots, Roman-sympathisers, Galileans and even perhaps those with Essene links. He saw the strength in building diversity-rich partnerships.

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