Originally posted from: https://weamc.global/gc23registration/
In 2019 we decided on the theme of “Our Missions Future” not knowing what 2020 was going to bring. We then wondered about focusing on a sub-theme of “missions beyond the pandemic” but in light of other crises, that quickly seemed too restrictive. As time and conversations have gone the full theme has emerged as “Our Missions Future: Local Impact, Ripples and Waves. The metaphor for this Global Consultation is that of pebbles dropped into a pond that creates ripples, which spread from multiple centres and intersect with one another. Where gospel impact is felt in one area (the pebble), the effects ripple out, and as they interact with ripples from other centres it causes waves (points of difference, tension and conflict).
The idea builds on the theme introduced at the GC16 in Panama: “Polycentric Mission”. Which would also tie in with Lausanne IV (coming in 2024) and their polycentric embrace. Polycentrism = many centres of authority (local gospel impact). The challenge for cross-cultural ministry is, how can we best work together when we come from different ‘centres of authority’ (or cultural understandings), which influence the way we know and relate to God and the world?
The study of World Christianity helps shed new light on the impact and effects of cross-cultural missions and the missionaries who have sacrificially served to nurture gospel impact in nations that had little or no access to it. We see that expatriate (outsider) initiatives can be wonderful catalysts for gospel growth, but historic investigations and contemporary research data show that it is an indigenous (local) church that spreads most effectively and remains over time, and indigenous theology that sustains and matures new movements to Christ, especially in contexts of persecution. Yet, indigenous movements of local churches do not exist in a vacuum. All churches and all believers everywhere must remain in conversation with one another as we learn to understand the ways of our Lord and live in the Kingdom of God for God’s glory as faithful disciples of Jesus for our contemporary contexts.
As we listen to plenary presentations and to one another around tables, in hallways and lounges, we anticipate the Spirit of God will speak to us so that we will collectively discern the “new thing” that God is doing in our day for our missions future., the question arising for GC23 is, how can our missions initiatives better relate to the multiple centres (points of local impact) that together make up our global reality—particularly if we are to respect the authority of the local—when the ripples of influence of local gospel impact intersect with other influences from other centres of gospel impact (e.g. as represented by the faith of expatriate missionaries)?