Making sense of Europe and its unique challenges for mission preparation

Author: Rob Hay, Director of Research and Partnership Development, Redcliffe College.

Abstract:

Over the last few years since being back in Europe after a spell in Asia, I have had a growing sense of the challenge that Europe presents for the Gospel. It is not a blinding revelation or a “word of knowledge” (there are people far better placed to present that challenge than me) but having been in a culture that was not familiar (Asia), and returning to one that was not as familiar as it had been before (Western Europe), there were things that stood out as they had not done before. Also I had, had to think the gospel into Asian culture on a day by day basis and now tried to do the same in a culture that I had previously just taken for granted.
As I wrestled with these issues, I began to wonder how well we were preparing missionary candidates for mission in Europe. There were a growing number of Redcliffe students each year; some who came from Europe and wished to return to work there on completion of their studies and others from different parts of the world planning to move to Europe. What were we teaching these people? Were not the standard cross-cultural skills and self-awareness that we teach to all candidates, applicable in Europe? Perhaps, but application is important and so I decided to find out how many case studies, illustration and examples, I and my colleagues, used from Europe in our courses. The answer was zero! We had spent over 100 years preparing mission candidates for Africa, Asia and Latin America but it seemed we had not seen Europe as a recipient only as a source for mission.

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