Edited by Matthew Clarke
Chapter 25: Mission, missionaries and development
Mission, missionaries, development – simply bringing these words together in the one sentence can be viewed as a provocation by some in both the development and church communities. Within the former, deep-running concerns regarding missionary motivations and agendas persist, while in the latter a long-running theological debate regarding the place and importance of social action and justice in the church’s mission responsibility to economically poor communities continues to rumble. Despite all this, and whatever their motivation and in some cases their intent, missionaries from Europe and North America, and the churches that emerged from their endeavours, have had a substantial development impact throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, and will continue to do so into the future. From its beginnings, Christianity has been a missionary movement, and, at its best a movement committed to justice and compassion for the poor. The explanation for both these defining characteristics is woven throughout the Christian faith’s sacred texts, collated in the Bible, and summarized in a few core texts often referred to as the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
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