Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Fostering a Spirituality That Can Transform Mission?

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Fostering a Spirituality That Can Transform Mission?

Article excerpt

Abstract

To be moved by the Spirit into transforming discipleship, we need to know how to make ourselves available to God to receive God's gifts. We also need to practise discernment regarding what gives life and what does not. This paper considers themes for the 2018 Mission Conference, including money, love, and prayer. Examples, parables, and illustrations are given from experience and the practice of missionary discipleship. There is a particular emphasis on means of grace and the spiritual disciplines outlined by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The conclusions point to a focus on prayer in the planning^ preparation, and programming for the 2018 Conference.

Foundational spirituality

There is a great sense of anticipation and excitement in contemplating a mission conference based in Africa, bringing together Christians from all corners of the globe, ready to be moved deeply by the Holy Spirit. How great is the need for transformed disciples, for missionary disciples ready to collaborate with God's Spirit in giving birth to "life in all its fullness"! How great is the need for a radical movement of the Spirit to challenge the "easy drift into a spiritual worldliness camouflaged by religious practices, unproductive meetings and empty talk" (1) and to bring that creativity of the Spirit which "knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, even the most complex and inscrutable" (EG 178). I pray that the 2018 Mission Conference will submerge us in a context (of faith, geography, culture, and economy) where it is impossible for delegates (particularly those from the global North) to continue "acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist" (EG 80). (2)

I live and minister in London together with a largely African congregation. We are involved in numerous mission activities and try to be a welcoming home where love overflows in ways that serve the whole community and embody the good news in a multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multicultural context. However, rather than offer a reflection out of this one particular context, I would like to identify a couple of linked themes which emerge from Together Towards Life (TTL) (3) and appear to me to have a very crucial relevance, both personally and globally. They are to do with money, love, and prayer. 1) How do we resist the deceitfulness of wealth? 2) How do we love as Christ loved us and so make space for the other? and 3) How do we develop a "missionary spirituality" (4) providing direction (discernment) and motivation for transforming discipleship? These themes are linked by a question I have been asking myself since I was a teenager in a small Methodist chapel in the Isle of Man: if all that I am hearing about Jesus Christ is true, and if Jesus Christ can still transform lives today as he did back then in Palestine, why is so little transformation visible? I started out being rather critical of the adults around me--but gradually moved to asking what changes Christ was longing to make in my own life. To reframe the question in contemporary terms: How can we become "authentic disciples" (5) who live life such that it is always good news--for ourselves, for others, and for creation? How can we live lives (as individuals and churches) to the glory of God and in such a way that our witness raises "irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how [we] live," in the hearts of today's teenagers and others on a pilgrimage of the soul? (6)

XI have witnessed the life of churches, fellowships, missionaries, and ordinary saints over long periods of time in the Philippines, in India, in Honduras, in rural Isle of Man, in Oxford academia, and in cosmopolitan London. The contexts and their challenges change. Landscapes change; hurricanes, earthquakes, murders, and riots come and go; but through it all God's nature does not change, and neither does the essential character of the human soul. …

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