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Wesleyan Wisdom for Mission-Shaped Discipleship


Article originally published in Journal of Missional Practice, Volume 3 (January 2014).


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From the Introduction: “There have been a number of unfolding and overlapping shifts in Western missiological thinking over recent years. First, the dominant understanding of mission as sending people overseas to pre-Christian cultures has been overshadowed by the need for missionary activity in our emerging post-Christian context. The ‘Gospel and Our Culture’ movement, for example, has helped the church understand the Western world as a mission field, to which all the principles of cross-cultural mission can be applied. A second shift has liberated the whole idea of mission from bondage to the institutional structures of the church. It is not that the church of God has a mission, but that the mission of God has a church; or, in other words, missiology precedes ecclesiology. The ‘Missional Church’ movement has sought to address the challenge of domestic mission by letting the principles of cross-cultural engagement shape the development of culturally and contextually relevant expressions. A third shift, which is presently gaining momentum, attempts to refocus our attention from missional ecclesiology to mission spirituality, and making authentic discipleship the starting point of missional thinking. Alan and Debra Hirsch claim that ‘discipleship has become a frontier issue for the people of God at this time in history’. From this perspective, it is not ‘churches’ but ‘people’ that participate in the mission of God. The world is not evangelised by structures, but by disciples who love God and neighbour. The modest aim of this article is to survey some resources of Wesleyan theology and spirituality for points of contact with this evolving conversation about discipleship, and offer some brief reflections on missional practice for the contemporary church.”

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