believing in the future

September 9, 2008

(This post is the introduction to a series reflecting on David Bosch’s six distinctives for a missiology of Western culture. See the end of the post for links to the rest of the series.)

David Bosch was a missiologist in South Africa who died in 1992. A car accident took his life only a year after he published Transforming Mission — a monumental work which I blogged about last January.

Not long ago, I came across a used copy of Believing in the Future: Toward a Missiology of Western Culture. This was an essay Bosch wrote and presented in 1992, and then was published as a short (69 pages) book a few years after his death. (Since Eugene Cho once told me he only reads books by dead guys, I’m hoping he will consider Bosch if he hasn’t already.)

To state it too simply, Bosch says that the church in Western culture must view it’s work as mission in the same way it views mission to other cultures. Chapter 4 is entitled Contours of a Missiology of Western Culture, and I think it is one of the most important chapters I have ever read when it comes to thinking about the church. I had to restrain myself from highlighting too much.

Equally striking was the conclusion, where Bosch touches briefly on six other elements he thinks are necessary to develop a true missiology of Western culture. He was writing ideas in 1992 that are just starting to make their way into mainstream church conversation in the last few years. He mentions that our missiology must be ecological, countercultural (though not escapist), ecumenical, contextual, a ministry of the laity, and it must flow from a local, worshiping community.

I resonate with these ideas so much that I’m going to try to do a series on them in the days, or maybe weeks, to come.

Update — Here are the links to each post in the series:

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