As a church planter, it can be difficult to find time to read good academic missiology. With the surplus of half-baked missional ideas floating around the blogosphere, we can get tripped up on digesting statements that have very little support or merit. I hope to avoid making these kind of statements and posts. There is, however, a place for winsome dialog about planting best practices, church methods, and preferences. My Tools for Missional Church is an attempt to contribute in this way.
However, I find that my passion, insight and practice are most helped by reading deeply. Fortunately, I’ve had time to read some good missiology lately. Naturally, I have drifted to my missiological mentor, Dr. Timothy Tennent now President of Asbury Seminary, and to his mentor, Dr. Andrew Walls, “the most important person you don’t know”. I have the good fortune of reading an advance copy of Tennent’s Invitation to World Missions: A Missiology for the 21st Century (Kegel, 2010). In this work Tennent outlines Seven Mega Trends affecting missions in the 21st century. These 7 trends reflect major shifts in Global Christianity that must be addressed theologically and practically. Tennent does just that, drawing from his rich understanding of church history, theology, and missiology. The 7 Trends are:
- The Collapse of Christendom
- The Rise of Postmodernism
- The Collapse of the West Reaches the West Paradigm
- The Challenging Face of Global Christianity
- The Emergence of a Fourth Branch of Christianity
- A Deeper Ecumenism
How we engage and address these seven trends will inevitably shape the theology and character of Christianity and the advance or decline of the gospel in our context. Some books have been written on these Mega-Trends; however, the issues are proving increasingly complex, requiring more thoughtful reflection and attention. For instance, how does he re-centering of Global Christianity to the South and the East affect the way we think about missions and theologizing? For some great insight on this, check out Tennent’s Theology in the Context of Global Christianity. In the weeks to come, I will be blogging through some of these issues and look forward to some healthy interaction to learn and grow with you all.