Global Analysis

May 2024 Issue Overview

Loun Ling Lee May 2024

‘Missional’ has become a very common term used within mission circles, such as missional church, missional community, missional living, missional mindset/thinking/perspective, missional strategy, and missional engagement. What does ‘being missional’ mean?

In ‘From the Desert to the City: Missional living in the 21st century,’ Lawrence Ko lays out clearly, ‘being missional’ for the church today means to be incarnational like Christ. ‘The most crucial part of the church in the 21st Century is the participation of Christians in the life of the community, beyond the four walls of the church . . . to engage in civil society and promote social cohesion as peacemakers while revealing the hope of the kingdom in Christ.’ One practical example is the encouraging and equipping of Christian youths in multi-ethnic and multi-religious Singapore ‘to live in community and mediate ethnic and faith differences and conflicts’ in the society.

This could extend to Christians interacting with religious communities around the world. We should ‘share the gospel with those who are deeply invested in their religious communities as imams, priests, monks, sannyasins, or committed lay believers.’ And the best approach is ‘interreligious apologetic witness,’ writes Benno van den Toren in ‘Being Missional within Religious Communities: A Plea and Proposal for Interfaith Apologetics’. He argues that the key characteristics of interfaith apologetics should be holistic, contextual, and embodied. ‘It should be embodied in the lifestyle of the witness that reflects God’s love and deep interest in every human being, but also demonstrates the courage Jesus and his apostles showed unmasking idolatry and hypocrisy.’ In other words, we should ‘engage in such interfaith apologetics with both humility and confidence.’

But what is ‘being missional’ in a conflict situation, such as the Israel-Hamas war, the latest in this intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict? This is probably the most complex and challenging situation for being missional. In ‘Peace and Reconciliation as Mission in a World in Conflict: A Perspective on the Israel-Hamas War from an Israeli Jewish Follower of Jesus’ Lisa Loden reflects on the conflicting narratives and theologies of the opposing parties in Israel and Palestine which give rise to their respective goals. They ‘cannot disengage from their goals as they are perceived as existential. As a result they cannot enter into a meaningful dialogue with one another,’ and ‘many peacebuilding initiatives are compromised.’ Yet Lisa holds firm to her conviction that ‘all God’s children have been given a ministry of reconciliation.’ ‘If we do not live according to Jesus’ words and actions, to comfort those who mourn, to be peacemakers, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God, we will have failed God’s mission to be living witnesses to the way of the cross and the gospel of peace,’ she concludes.

As a Palestinian-Israeli Christian lawyer and peace scholar-practitioner, Rula Khoury Mansour believes that ‘amid deep-rooted violent contexts, reconciliation is not just a nice idea—it is an absolute necessity. It is the key to breaking the cycles of conflict and creating a future where Israelis and Palestinians can coexist peacefully.’ In ‘Peace and Reconciliation as Mission in a World in Conflict: A Christian Perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’, Rula writes, ‘Reconciliation is a process through which a society moves from a divided past to a shared future, including the search for truth, forgiveness, justice, and healing.’ She takes us through each of these essential stages and applies that to the relationships between Palestinians and Israelis. ‘Through sincere dialogue, acknowledging shared suffering and conflicting histories, and embracing forgiveness, a new narrative can emerge. By applying justice in its diverse forms and embarking on a journey of collective healing, we lay the foundation for a harmonious tomorrow, transcending the wounds of the past.’

May these articles challenge us to re-examine ourselves as followers and disciples of Christ. Are we being missional—demonstrating his sacrificial love—within every community and in all situations, giving hope to our world where conflict is now the new normal?

Lausanne Global Analysis is also available in PortugueseSpanishFrench, and Korean. Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue will be released in July 2024.