There Is No Future Without Diversity
I write to thank you for your blog that I find refreshing in format and deeply pedagogical in content. It represents a lot of work on your part and I’m grateful.
I teach intercultural studies and mission at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and, with colleague Balajiedlang Khyllep, recently co-authored a book for evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant congregational mission leaders called “Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility & Co-Development” (InterVarsity Press Academic, 2022).
The book is an attempt to describe what we consider a growing crisis in global and local mission among U.S. congregations:
Each year, billions of dollars and tens of thousands of mission teams are sent by American congregations to projects and mission industries that are less than effective in creating the desired change, yet persist because they make us feel good.
The book builds on research with 1200+ U.S. congregational mission leaders and attempts to narrate the challenges to faithful and effective mission leadership (lingering colonial assumptions and what we call “selfie mission”, where personal transformation replaces service to the world as a primary motivation in mission). In response, we offer the image of the three-stone cooking fire to help local leaders imagine a new foundation in mission, drawing on contributions from (post-colonial) mission theology, anthropology and development studies.
Our work at Pittsburgh Seminary is an attempt to accompany learners into intercultural spaces so they can see God at work in a different context and return “home” with new eyes, as Salman Rushdie described: “It is only those who step outside the frame who see the whole picture”.
I’m hopeful your readers might find in “Freeing Congregational Mission“ a helpful resource for their critically important role as key decision makers/influencers at a time when the mission marketplace increasingly shapes the ways our congregations perceive and engage in God’s mission.
May God richly bless your teaching ministry.
With you in Christ,
World Mission Initiative
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Harvey, the Spirit must connect us. I just read Denyer's book as well since the paper I presented last week was, in some ways, looking at similar issues. Her book relates to your first reflection in that she is recording a series of relationships. One factor that I was thinking about was how secularism in various forms has separated material and spiritual salvation. When it comes to mission, the material tends to be aid agencies organized by large denominations or organizations. They do projects, sending money. The spiritual is done by churches and mission agencies. They send people. The problem with mission as aid is that it misses the relational dimension. I can stay distanced from another through money. Distancing is impossible with relationships of friendship. Can you tell I just came back from a dinner of nsima and chicken with the ZTU community?