This year is the 20th anniversary of the publication of Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission by David Bosch. It is a book which has transformed our thinking about mission.
Missio Dei and the Reign of God
Bosch led the way to a redefined concept of mission in last century. He took it from an understanding of ‘missions’ as the spreading of Christianity or programs for church expansion or conversion; to a focus on the mission of God with God as the sender. The book can be summarised by the last paragraph. “… mission is quite simply, the participation of Christians in the liberating mission of Jesus wagering on a future that verifiable experience seems to belie. It is the good news of God’s love, incarnated in the witness of community, for the sake of the world.”
The church, particularly in the West, needs this expanded understanding of mission which places the purpose, practice and power of mission with God. God’s mission has been, and continues to be, to bring in God’s Kingdom. The book holds in creative tension two ideas. First, an understanding of mission rooted in the actions of God which are necessarily mystery and unknowable. Second, through an exploration of New Testament understandings of mission as the Reign of God and the various epochs of missionary engagement, he gives us a very clear mirror in which to see mission and our part in it. “God’s reign is not understood as exclusively future but as both future and as already present. … God’s reign arrives wherever Jesus overcomes the power of evil.”