Mission Studies Special Interest Group Session
Mission Studies Special Interest Group session hosted by Nigel Rooms with pre-recorded input from speakers for discussion in the session.
Thursday 16 July, 10 am – 12 noon
Two papers will be discussed:
- Christianity Rediscovered? Re-imagining the gospel in our contemporary shame culture with Trevor Withers and Andrea Campanale.
- The Pedagogy of Evangelism: rethinking communication of faith in contemporary culture with James Butler.
Booking opens 1st July
We want to privilege “contact” over “content” to maximise the usefulness of our two hours together on 16th July. Therefore we are asking all participants to interact with the presentations and texts that the speakers have prepared before they arrive at the event. This is most important as we will not be repeating the content in the sessions themselves. The materials will be made available to attendees after sign-up.
Christianity Rediscovered? Re-imagining the gospel in our contemporary shame culture
Missiologists have long established that Gospel and Culture are deeply intertwined and connected. The foundations of our own Western culture are changing from a morality based on guilt to one where shame is ubiquitous – we could reference the research of Brené Brown and others here. Many of us came to faith on a message of ‘I feel guilty and need forgiveness’. This individualized ‘gospel message’ was based on an assumed moral compass that was a remnant of modernity and Christendom. It is not adequate for the culture we now face. Trevor Withers and Andrea Campanale, as theologically reflective practitioners will lead our thinking on how this change has come about, how we might address it missiologically and what practical outcomes might emerge in ‘shame resilient’ Christian communities.
Trevor Withers leads the leadership team of Network Church in St Albans and Harpenden which is part of the Pioneer group of churches. Trevor studied church planting and evangelism at Spurgeon’s College and is currently researching how the gospel message can be communicated to connect more readily with our emerging culture.
Andrea Campanale works for the Church Mission Society as their Pioneer Network Developer and is a recognised Lay Worker in the Church of England. The missional community that she created out of her mission work to spiritual seekers, Sacred Space Kingston, is soon to be granted a Bishops Mission Order by the Diocese of Southwark.
The Pedagogy of Evangelism: rethinking communication of faith in contemporary culture
Society and culture in the UK have changed rapidly in the last 50 years or so, which has raised key questions about how faith is communicated. In particular, what is the place of evangelism, understood as proclaiming the gospel to see individual converts? Within evangelicalism this has meant that that the debate about the relationship between mission as social action and mission as evangelism has continued. Since the 20th century evangelicalism has had a complex and at times confused understanding of the relationship between evangelism and social action. Although the Lausanne conference of 1974 asserted that both are required in mission, exactly how this relationship has played out in practice has been complex. It has often meant gospel talks at soup kitchens, and invitations to Alpha courses for people attending debt counselling and foodbanks. In this paper James Butler argues that this instinct for the explicit place of evangelism in mission is right in the assertion that there is something normative about the Christian faith to be proclaimed, but it is problematic in the way this assumed mode of communication is didactic. This is particularly problematic in a contemporary culture suspicious of experts and used to more interactive and creative teaching. By turning to the commitments of theological action research James suggests evangelism be understood as a discerning conversation which is both attentive to how the Spirit is acting in the world and committed to proclaiming a normative Christian tradition.
James Butler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Roehampton and MA lecturer at the Church Mission Society, both in the UK. He researches and teaches in the fields of missiology, ecclesiology and practical theology. He is currently involved in two theological action research projects: one exploring learning in British Methodism, and the second exploring Methodist and Catholic engagement in social action. He was awarded his PhD from Durham University researching how small missional communities sustain their social action.