Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Pioneer Gift: Explorations in Mission

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Pioneer Gift: Explorations in Mission

Article excerpt

The Pioneer Gift: Explorations in Mission.

Edited by Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross. London: Canterbury Press, 2014. Pp. xii, 236. 22.99 [pounds sterling] / $36.99.

This superb collection of essays illuminates one of the most important mission problems of our time: As pioneering Christians initiate new forms of mission, how should church hierarchies respond to what may seem to them a challenge to unity and church order? Consisting of twelve short chapters and an extensive index, this book is "a collection of research and reflections arising out of pioneering mission. Several of the papers were first presented at a pioneer research and conversation day at Oxford" (17).

The book cover communicates the whole of the pioneering theme. One sees a shower of spent arrows pointing downward, about to end their flight; but one arrow, upward bound in the opposite direction, has just taken flight. "Pioneers," writes Jonny Baker, "bring an amazing gift.... They see and imagine different possibilities to the way things are now, to business as usual. They are then able to build a pathway to make real what they see or imagine" (1).

Protestant church hierarchies may perceive pioneers as troubling and disorderly. (We envy the Roman Catholics and Anglicans, whose hierarchies are more ready to permit pioneers to organize new mission efforts.) A church member who invites others to initiate a special-interest mission effort will discover a stubborn truth: a governing body must act before its members can form themselves into voluntary societies. …

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