Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mission in Britain Today - What Would You Teach?

I've decided that time has come for a significant revision of my introductory degree module on mission in Britain today.  I've been teaching this course for the past six years now with only minor tweaks and that word "today" in the title is a rather insistent demand to keep things freshish. I've got a number of ideas in mind but it would be awfully decent of you if you would offer up some suggestions of your own.

Here's what we cover at the moment:

Key Issues
What is Mission?
Mission and The Bible
Mission and Culture

Major Transitions in British Culture
From Modernity to Postmodernity
From Christendom to Postchristendom
From Sacred to Society to Secular Society

The Church's Response to the Challenges and Opportunities of Mission in Britain Today
Church Growth
Emerging Church
Fresh Expressions of Church
Social Engagement and Community Ministry

More Detailed Study of Particular Aspects of Contemporary British Culture
Responding to the New Spirituality
Responding to Consumerism
Responding to the Changing Nature of Community

Issues of religious pluralism, theology of religions etc. are covered in a separate module.

So, without expanding the number of sessions what would you include, what would you ditch, what would your priorities be?  Which authors have you found helpful?  Which movements/trends do you think are the most significant?  Which issues are key?  Remember this is an introductory module so the aim is to offer a fairly wide angle survey of the scene while introducing key missiological themes and skills.

All suggestions gratefully received.


Bill Eugster said...

With increasing urbanisation, what abut something on the rural remnant / rural poverty / low youth aspiration?

There are a lot of small churches dying on their feet out in the countryside, with no clue how about the necessity of death and resurrection. So how about also something on evangelising the grey /leisure economy?

Andy Goodliff said...

I guess one of the most interesting and areas for potential is around mission as hospitality in the form of churches engaging with, running and hosting community groups ... so Ann Morisy, Journeying Out, which I've found helpful and challenging.

Ash Hardingham said...

Not following your request to systematically go through your list, (cos the others haven't and making random comments seems easier...)
Can you grow in faith if you are not actively involved in Mission? That seemed to be how Jesus developed his disciples, and yet a challenge to our sacred cow of housegroups, etc,..
I guess the 'Emerging Church/Fresh Expressions' language is beginning to feel a bit dated now - (would I buy a book with 'Emerging' in the title?) - although the idea seems essential for the future of the church - What shape Church? Under evangelism - is the church clear as to exactly what the message is that we are communicating? The Gospel is classically retold by someone like Tim Keller (The Reason for God) - a modern Mere Christianity, then there is Mark Stibbe pushing a specific agenda (Fatherhood of God) as Gospel, along with Faith answering Atheists (John Lennox/Alistair McGrath). Finally, a very savvy Rob Bell seems to focus mission on answering much contemporary angst about life in general. (Talking of Rob Bell, does Love Wins and universalism get a look in?) Culturally what is the significance of celebrity - a la Pete Ward's last book (and importantly my godson's dissertation for his theology degree @ Leeds, who wrote on the impact of celebrity.) Umm, and i'm rambling now, according to the theory that it is often easier to define something in the negative, what about describe what mission isn't, is no longer.

Ed Kaneen said...

It may be that you cover this either elsewhere in the degree, or implicitly in this module, but I think there's a need for something on cross-cultural mission. Of course our cities are much more multicultural than they were, but I say this having moved to a totally white, British community in the North East of England. The strong sense of shared culture and history (e.g. ex-mining community) means that those from outside (i.e. me), are very much outsiders. This is not to mention the wealth gap that exists between many Christians and the communities they seek to serve. How do I and the church bridge these gaps in an effective and culturally sensitive way?

Nigel Coles said...

Good to see all here Glen. I guess one of my main concerns, at present, is what messages we're sending to those who are becoming our congregational leaders. Picking up Ash's point re involvement. I imagine you address some of this at various points, but the transition from mission to missional is not flagged up as a major one in your headings and I'd want to bring that conversation main stage, rather than deal with it in the side-wings. Keep keeping on though!

Rev Graeme Alexander Dodds said...

What about some thoughts as to the margins. The hidden society, the untouchables, those that cannot be seen, those that easily are overlooked and undervalued, Feral if you like! Happy to come and talk with you about my thoughts as a practitioner in this mission field. I have learned a lot about gang culture and outlaw hardcore biker culture that have fed into my thinking about mission. Too much just simply to respond on a blog. Depends on how serious your original questions were? I'd be up for it. Got a reading list as long as my arm too. Let me know time, date etc...or Just say no thanks. Up to you.

ddddddddddddddddd said...

Glen, great to see you public on this.

A few more for the debate...

1. What is the Gospel?

2. Mission and ethics: including arguments for a 'bias to the poor' or margins; mission and power including mission in the posture of host and being hosted by culture.

3. Mission as a necessary way to Christian formation and a look at 'two way conversion'.

4. Exploring the arguments for ecclesiology theology etc as a subset of missiology

5. Something on mission in a multicultural, multifaith country...

6. What does success look like? as a closer for the series

A vote against a big focus on models (how).... instead a deeper look on understandings of mission (what is it?), agents of mission (who?), motives for mission (why?), and on the nature of God that feeds the rest.