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June 6, 2012

A Key Assumption of Continuing Indaba

by Admin

The aim of Continuing Indaba is to energise mission, both locally and globally. To enable full participation between dioceses in the global South and North I drew upon new paradigms of mission to develop a key assumption. This assumption has grounded all the work of Continuing Indaba.

Key Assumption

  • All mission is local mission – it takes place in a location and is about people and their relationship with one another and with God.
  • All mission is global – the mission of the church in one place is the mission of the whole church.

Therefore if a church is to ask what its contribution to global mission is; it is primarily about mission in its own context in partnership with the whole church of Christ.

  • Global mission is liable to be mission imposed on another unless it is rooted in the local.
  • Local mission is liable to be ‘isolated, insular and introverted’ without the consciousness of the global.


From the launch of the modern missionary movement missionaries were those who went to preach the gospel in a foreign land. Mission was something done by, usually white, men and women from ‘Christian’ countries in heathen lands, often in Africa or Asia. Later mission included funding projects. In both cases Churches in the Global North resourced ‘mission’ in the Global South.

Many people still think of global mission in this way. If a typical church in the UK, North America or Australia is asked what part it plays in global mission, it will talk of supporting a water project in Sudan, an orphanage in India, or of sending members of the congregation to Nepal. All these are wonderful, but the real responsibility of a church in global mission is its own location.

The understanding that mission is what the powerful do in another geographic location is at the heart of colonialism. The heathen were told what it was to be a Christian and that was about how they dressed as well as embracing Jesus. Missionaries imposed a culture of music, church buildings and education as essential features of the ‘Christian’ mission.

Bishop Zac Nyringe calls the church to imitate Paul in Athens.[1] Paul listened before he preached and translated the message of Christ into the cultural perspective of the location. The imperative for the evangelist is the same today; to listen and translate. A global mission that does not take into account the local is imposed by the powerful.

The alternative is to be ‘isolated, insular and introverted.’[2] Local mission will lack vision and become preoccupied with the trivial unless it is aware of its part in the global mission of God. Growing churches have partnerships around the globe.

Those participating in pilot conversations were encouraged to see their local mission in global terms and to see the mission in the places they visited as local.

[1] Andrew Walls and Cathy Ross, eds. Mission in the 21st Century. London: DLT, 2008. 22-3

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