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What Is Theology of Mission?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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Theology of mission is a new way for Christians to think about the application of missions or evangelism in real world environments. This idea has become part of the language around how to adapt Christianity to a modern world. Although the term could also be used in relation to other religions, it came about within the context of the Christian community.

The emergence of theology of mission has been attributed to Gerald Anderson, who wrote Theology of Christian Mission in 1961. Other works have also dealt with this term as part of a modernized approach to faith. Theology of mission is a religious idea, but to many, it has a sort of scientific or academic connotation that distinguishes it from other kinds of theology. For example, many Christians might think of the theology of mission as something that belongs mainly to clergy or missionaries, while other types of theologies may be more popular in the general community of believers.

Some analysis of theology of mission identifies three key areas that work together to form the basis for this idea. These are the biblical test, the faith community, and the missional context. Some Christians who study theology of mission have found that in classical theologies, the text element may have taken an excessively prominent position in relation to the other two elements, and theology of mission seeks to balance these three areas to help provide a more successful result for missions.

Part of the appeal of theologies of mission is in giving missionaries tools to figure out their best options in real world environments. This kind of theology considers various countries and communities. Some have called this “mission in praxis” or practical missions scenarios. Theology of mission is also called an “applied theology,” and has been thought of as an alternative to systemic theologies which, to some, are excessively rigid and may not work well in praxis.

In terms of its use within the modern Christian community, theologies of mission might be systems that pastoral workers might teach to potential missionaries, or something that these individuals will study in reporting back from the field. Efforts in identifying key elements of mission theologies may be useful in planning missions trips or even organizing funding. Ideas like this one are important to the operations of many churches around the world, and can be seen as formal ways to evaluate mission outcomes.

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