Some MAP theory and theology

It is sometimes suggested that Mission Action Planning is just the latest (or last century's!) management fad. There is a risk, depending on the approach taken, that this could be so, but we have worked carefully as a diocese to try to ground all that we offer in prayer and theology. Please help us to keep working at this - and to extend the insights and approaches that help and that we can all draw on. New insights, resources, approaches, suggestions, feedback to Caroline Pascoe please - they will be warmly welcomed.

These pages share some of the many influences that have helped to shape our particular approach to Mission Action Planning here and to shape some of the approaches you will also find elsewhere.

What is "mission"?  What is meant by the frequent use of the phrase "God's mission"?

The realisation that mission is something that God does - that it is God's mission, not ours - has been one of the most significant theological shifts of the late 20th century. That is gradually making its way into thinking and practice in local churches as well as national churches and mission agencies. David Bosch's hugely influential book Transforming Mission played a key part in this shift.

In preparation for the big 2010 World Mission Conference to mark the 100th anniversary of the influential 1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference (often described as the beginnings of the modern ecumenical movement), research into understandings of mission today was commissioned. The research draws on the work of Bevans and Schroeder who see three strands in mission understanding in the 20th century:

  1. Mission as proclaiming Jesus Christ as Saviour: "Proclamation"
  2. Mission as participating in the Triune God's outpouring of love: "Missio Dei" - God is there ahead of us
  3. Mission as liberating service of the Reign of God: "Kingdom"

The research showed how those strands tend to interweave in the use of the word mission and in how we live and participate in God's mission - at local, diocesan and national levels. That is true of our use of "mission" here in Hereford diocese.

(The report also makes the point clearly that "mission" is not about what someone else does "over there", in another place, on our behalf - but what God does, and invites us to be part of... in every time and every place...)

Foundations for Mission

This book is the result of research conducted to answer the questions posed in the introduction (above). Set up in response to the Foundations for Mission study theme of the 2010 Edinburgh World Mission Conference, this book shows how the relationship of language, theology and praxis in the UK and Ireland is a complicated and messy affair.

Using website analysis, a theological survey and in-depth interviews, the research group asked leaders of churches, agencies and other mission bodies to examine their underlying drivers and purpose for mission. A picture emerges of profound commitment to hospitality, openness, and reconciliation from the Christian community, and the offering of God's love for all, but how that happens, and who exactly should be involved in the process is much less clear.