What’s missiology? | The trade
The gospel message never changes.
We can't improve it.
It is the ultimate hope for humanity.
However, cultures are constantly changing. In a time of rapid change like today, it is even more important to communicate the gospel in a timely manner in a particular cultural context. Hence, an ubiquitous reality for the church – from pastors and staff to leadership in denominations, networks and movements, and including all believers – becomes more effective in communicating the gospel in culture. This is why the work of missiologists and the field of missiology is so important. But what do we mean by missiology?
And what is the work of a missiologist?
What missiology is NOT
Let me first describe what missiologists are not, although people often assume that these qualities describe a missiologist's job.
First, missiology not only gives a fear-driven look at current church norms.
Sometimes missiologists are perceived in this way because they constantly ask questions about how we can most faithfully and fruitfully participate in God's mission during this time. When we ask these questions, we sometimes find that the Church is not so faithful or fruitful. Most of us would rather see our Church through rose-tinted glasses than really judge how we are doing. If the church is not faithful to live an embodied mission or fruitfully see people come to Christ, some may believe that missiologists who ask tough questions on these issues are fearful. No, they just do their job.
Second, missiology doesn't just criticize what doesn't work in the church.
Criticism of the status quo can certainly arise when questions of fidelity and fertility are asked, but the work of missiology in the service of the Church is not the same as that of a film critic at the theater. Missiologists not only criticize other models; They also criticize those they stand up for. For example, if you stand up for the micro-church, you will not only criticize mega-churches. Or maybe you have a number of criticisms of multisite. Unless you also demonstrate the ability to be self-critical of your own model for greater effectiveness and fidelity, you are not doing the missiology job. You are just a critic (and the critique quota has been reached).
Missiology examines all models and tries to help them be more biblically valid and more practically effective.
Third, missiology is not the same as evangelism.
Missiology is an academic discipline that studies Christian mission. Evangelism tells people about Jesus, while missiology understands it before we tell it, understands it as we tell it, and it understands when we forge a Christian community that emerges from the gospel we evangelize share.
What is missiology?
A technical definition of missiology is "the reflective discipline that underpins and guides the propagation efforts of the church by spreading the knowledge of the gospel in all its fullness to every people and everywhere".
Here are three ways to think about what missiology is and what missiologists do.
First, missiology is an academic discipline.
Not all missiologists work primarily in the academic field. There are a variety of missiologists who work more hands-on, and some work both academically and practically. But the idea of missiology involves an approach to the work of academics pondering the work of Christ, especially through missions, and then it became more widely understood. It was Gustov Warneck who is considered the founder of missiology.
Missiology is driven by sound theology.
As I wrote earlier, “When we understand the intentions of the Creator God, we can gain deeper insight into the desires of men and women as beings created in His image. Missiology is practical theology at its best. "
Missiology, in its multidisciplinary approach, also deals with the statistical analysis of data and sociological factors. My dissertation dealt with a statistical analysis of 602 community plants, the results of which were examined over a period of four years. I wrote a theology mission book. There are statistical, theological, sociological, anthropological and other disciplines involved in this work. I did an anthropological study at Asbury Seminary and found it incredibly helpful. Missiology as an academic discipline adds to our understanding as well as our practice of effective and biblical missions.
Second, missiology asks not only the how, but also the why.
When I wrote my first book, "Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age," I dedicated the book to someone you may not know: Mark Terry. At that point I had planted four churches. Mark Terry was my missiology professor, so in the dedication I said, “I knew the how of church planting, but you taught me the why of missiology.
Missiologists do that. We ask the why question.
Third, missiology seeks to help the church fulfill its mission locally and globally.
As the discipline of missiology evolved over time, it became more about asking the question: if mission is from everywhere and everywhere, are there people in the church who can help us be more faithful and fruitful? Missiology exists not only for the academy but also for the local church. I wrote:
Missiological research is guided by specific questions aimed at understanding the culture and society in which the church resides. This research is carried out according to formally established procedures to collect, measure and interpret data. All of this work is carried out with the aim of enabling the Church to serve in a way that is not only spiritually meaningful, but also in a way that is situationally and structurally beneficial to society as a whole. As a missiologist, I help the Church understand what it means to be faithfully present in this broken world.
The goal of missiology is to help the church more faithfully and fruitfully fulfill the mission that God has given his church. I gave my life for it, as did other missiologists who serve in the academy and the Church.