Contextualisation and the bible

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phil_bartle/When we look at the scriptures we see a reflection of what we call contextualisation. The term emerged in the 1970′s so you can’t do a quick search for “contextualisation” and hope to find some texts that refer to it. A local church will naturally want to understand how the concept of contextualisation relates to the scriptures.

I have pulled together a primer around how passages from the bible reflect the notion of contextualisation. This primer is designed to help someone who is wanting to help their church engage with the concept and the scriptures (examples might be through house group material or a sermon series).

You can find the primer here: Primer: Contextualisation: 3: Biblical Reflections

I have written two other primers on the subject:

BMS World Mission have a whole magazine on the subject: Mission Catalyst: How far is too far?.

When is a backslider a better missionary?

There is a fascinating story about Johnathan Livingstone’s missionary exploits in Africa. He engaged a tribal leader called Sechele who accepted the Christian message and was converted. Livingstone had not thought through the difference between an African context and his British one and tried to induct his convert to a Western style of Christianity.

Although Livingstone eventually gave up on Sechele, he developed a unique approach to Christianity and shared it among many of the local tribes. The BBC article on the story goes on to say:

He returned to rainmaking, considering it a political necessity, and late in life returned to polygamy, marrying a young woman for what do not seem to have been entirely political reasons.

Missionaries also strongly objected to his use of traditional charms and purification rites, and the list of his ancestors on the church wall.

And yet, even the ones who most hated him admitted, “he reads the Bible threadbare”, and when confronted he ran scriptural rings around them.

This months “Mission Catalyst” is about the issues of contextualisation and syncretism. I have been involved in discussions about appropriate changes and developments in expressions of church life since my teens. The subject is an important one for Christian’s to grasp as they engage with a changing world.

Mission Catalyst: How far is too far?

I have written two primers on the subject:

I am planning a third around the subject of contextualisation in the bible. I will post the lnk here when it is done.

3 Months on… how is it going?

I am now three months into my new role as UK Field Leader with BMS. The work is becoming clearer and I have put together this short Prezi to help describe the trajectory I am on:

Here is the basic outline of the presentation:

  • There are five areas of work that have developed in the first 3 months of the role:
    • Research
    • Unions and Associations
    • Individual churches
    • Colleges
    • Mission Agencies
  • Three time limited projects have emerged:
    • A “Learning from World Mission” teaching resource for various groups.
    • Experiments in missiological reflection (for Ministers and leaders).
    • Exploring a round table discussion around creative approaches to rural mission.

Feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the things I am involved in with me.

What do you do?

People keep asking me what my job is and how will it develop. Here is a brief attempt at trying to explain that!

Traditionally BMS traffic has been one way with regard to the UK. We have informed churches about our work and they have responded with generous funding. There has been an increasing sense within the BMS that there might be a unique contribution that BMS might be able to make within the UK mission scene. That will mean that BMS’ relationships within the United Kingdom will become two way. BMS have recognized that they need someone to coordinate their response to the United Kingdom. Hence the creation of the post of “United Kingdom Field Leader”, and my appointment to it.

As no one has done my job before it means that there are going to be two phases to the way my role develops:

  • Learning, listening and creating the scope of the role.
  • Setting direction and strategy for BMS response to its developing role within the UK.

So at the moment I am in the first phase:

  • I am learning about the organisation, the work we do and what makes the organisation tick.
  • I will be networking within our supporting churches, associations as well as other mission agencies working within the UK.
  • I will also be developing the partnerships that are already in existence.

Pinin' back me lug'oles!