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Global Triennial Consultations

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2001: Oxford, United Kingdom (1st)

Theme: Integral Mission and the Poor

Challenges:

While talking about the importance of integral mission, we believe we have unwittingly exported a compartmentalised rather than integrated approach to discipleship all over the world. For example, we see middle class Christians who increasingly derive their sense of life, purpose, identity and meaning from where they work and what they buy. We see Christians at the margins who, when they secure a good job, leave their poor communities behind and move to more affluent neighbourhoods where they can give their children the “benefits”. Before we can answer the question “what is an integral approach to mission?” we must answer the first question “what is an integral approach to discipleship in our new global culture?” (Sine, Ton and Christine, The State of God’s World: Globalization and the Future of Integral Mission (Micah Network, September 2001)

The true test of mission is not whether we proclaim, make disciples or engage in social, economic and political liberation, but whether we are capable of integrating all three in a comprehensive, dynamic and consistent witness. We need to pray that the Lord will liberate us not only from this stagnant situation, but he may liberate us for wholeness and integrity in mission. (Costas, Orlando E., The Integrity of Mission (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979), p. 75

Extract from a Study undertaken in Buenos Aires, Argentina by Kairos Foundation concluded: (Padilla, René, Integral Mission Today, (Micah Network, September 2001)

1. A predominant number of churches do not see themselves as part of the area in which they are located. They can ignore the city and the needs of people. Their efforts are centred on their self-preservation.

2. Only a few churches are really concerned for their respective neighbourhoods. Most do not listen to outsiders and are not interested in the real needs of people around them are. Yet they regard themselves as saviours of the city because they do some good works for people.

3. It is rare to find churches that see themselves as part of, or partners with, their respective neighbourhoods, working with them in the solution of common problems, as incarnate in their communities.

We have to go to the poor if we want to meet them. It is not necessary to disguise ourselves as poor, but it is critical to form interactive relationships of trust for mutual transformation in the process of generating a new common language and news sets of common beliefs. Love is the fundamental way to communicate the desire of creating a common space for the conversation, care and exploration of new possibilities for transformation. (Cruz, Saul and Pilar, Walking Alongside the Poor (Micah Network, September 2001)

Outcomes:

Micah Declaration on Integral Mission

Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life and our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. (Extract from Micah Declaration on Integral Mission, September 2001)

The declaration group writers chose the wording of this definition with care. They wanted to retain the idea that proclamation and social involvement are distinct activities. The fear was that when they are fused into one entity one or the other soon falls away. Furthermore, while good social involvement involves harnessing the capabilities, resources and energies of a community, the proclamation of the gospel addresses us in our total helplessness.

But to say that proclamation and social involvement are distinct is not to say they can operate apart from one another. As the Micah Declaration says ‘It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other.’ According to the Oxford English Dictionary ‘integrated’ means ‘made up of parts’, but ‘integral’ means ‘of, or necessary to the completeness of, a whole’. Integral Mission recognises that proclamation and social involvement are necessary components of the mission or task of the church.

It is a basic rule or hermeneutics that texts make sense only in  their context. The same is true of mission. Our text – the message we proclaim – will be interpreted by the context of our lives and the life together as Christian communities. Proclamation cannot take place apart from a context. The question is whether that contact is congruent with the message of transforming grace in Jesus Christ. The context that properly interprets the gospel message is love. In our love for the ‘other’ – especially the marginalised – we model the grace of God just as Jesus did in his table fellowship with the outcasts of his day. And so the church itself is, in the words of Leslie Newbigin. ‘the hermeneutic of the gospel.’ (Chester, Tim (ed), Justice, Mercy and humility: Integral Mission and the Poor (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2002), p. 3-4

Papers:

- Integral Mission in the Ministry of Jesus – Elaine Storkey

- Integral Mission Today – C. René Padilla

- Networking for Integral Mission – Robert Guerrero

- The Rights of Indigenous  Peoples and Environmental Protection: A Case Study from MOPAWI, Honduras – Oswaldo E Munguía

- Walking Alongside the Poor: A Practitioner’s Perspective on Integral Mission – Saul and Pilar Cruz

2003: Queretero, Mexico (2nd)

Theme: Globalisation and the Poor

Challenges:

To be truly global is to be truly local. To be truly part of the life of the world, we are to immerse ourselves in the life story of our own people. As the theologian Walter Brueggeman puts it: “… to be in history is to be in a place somewhere and answer for it.” (Maggay, Melba, Globalisation and Culture, Micah Network, September 2003)

If the Church is truly the global Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is qualitatively present in every local assembly, the way we become truly global Christians is not be detaching ourselves from local commitments in favour of a globe-trotting lifestyle (or spending more time on the internet!), but rather by seriously engaging with the local as members of a global community that has defined our identities. (Ramachandra, Vinoth, Globalisation: towards a theological perspective and critique, Micah Network, September 2003)

Both technology and capital can put themselves at the service of either good or evil. From their union, which recognizes no ethical principle, has emerged the society which worships economic prosperity and the consequent material well-being of homo consumens. The consumer society is the very social, political and economic situation in which the world dominated by the powers of destruction has taken form today: the blind faith in technology, the irreversible reverence for private property and an inalienable right, the cult of increased production through the irresponsible sacking of nature, the disproportional enrichment of the multinational [transnational] corporations which further impoverishes the “disinherited of the earth,” the fever of consumerism, ostentation, and fashion. This materialism is the ideology which is destroying the human race. (Padilla, C. René, Micah Network, September 2003 – notes from Symposium on Lausanne Covenant 1976)

A basic requirement for a proper understanding of the life and mission of the Church in the context of the global capitalist society is a proper understanding of the Gospel.   The central task of the Church is to communicate good news, and the good news that Christians are called to communicate is centred in Jesus Christ, including his incarnation, his life, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, and his second coming. The whole Gospel involves all of these “salvation events” and views Christ’s work not only in terms of individual salvation— oftentimes understood as a subjective experience of forgiveness of sins — but in terms of God’s will to bring humankind back to himself, to reconcile the members of the human race to one another and to God’s creation, according to his original purpose. The good news of the Kingdom is good news of holistic transformation. When we see our own salvation in light of God’s everlasting plan, it becomes clear that we are saved not in order to be happy, or materially successful, or free from suffering. We are saved “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10) as we seek to cooperate with God, however modestly, in the accomplishment of his purpose in history. We are saved as members of the Body of Christ and, as such, persons who have been called to participate in his mission to transform the world so that it will reflect God’s glory and the justice and peace of his Kingdom—the Kingdom that became a present reality in Jesus Christ.

This rootedness of our life and mission in the Gospel makes all the difference between our approach to cultural, ecological, socioeconomic and political issues and the approach of secular, humanitarian institutions to the same issues. It makes of God’s love the central motivation, of Jesus‟ lifestyle the pattern, and of the power of the Holy Spirit the moving force for Christian action in society. Furthermore, it provides a sense of direction to the activities we engage in to fulfil our call. The object of our work is not to enable poor people to become full members of the consumer society. It is, rather, to help men and women—regardless of race, gender, or social class— to experience fullness of life. For the poor this implies the recovery of a sense of human dignity and the satisfaction of basic human needs. For the rich it implies the moral commitment to stewardship—“not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God” and “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share... so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1Tim 6:17-19). For both poor and rich alike fullness of life implies putting God at the centre of their lives, in such a way that, like Paul, they are able to say: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:12-13) (Padilla, C. René, The Impact of Globalisation on the Poor, Micah Network, September 2003)

Outcomes:

1. The Querétaro Declaration: Globalisation and the Poor

NB: see challenges and commitments made for Micah Network

2. A Call from Querétaro

Papers:

- The Prophetic Call – Jim Wallis

- Globalisation, that is to say, when Poverty is Always with Us – Lilia Solano

- Globalisation and Culture – Melba Maggay

- The Impact of Globalisation on the Poor – C. René Padilla

- Globalisation and the Information Revolution – Simon Batchelor

- Globalisation: Towards a Theological Perspective and Critique – Vinoth Ramachandra

- Liberating the Rich Church: Workshop Notes – Steve Bradbury

- Integral Mission and the Church – Donald Mtetemala

- Integral Mission in a World of Violence – Peter Kuzmič

- Integral Mission: humility and lifestyle – CB Samuel

- Integral Mission and Advocacy – Gary Haugen

- Integral Mission and its Historical Development – C. René Padilla

2006: Chiang Mai, Thailand (3rd)

Theme: Integral Mission in a Wold of Conflict

Challenges:

There are no blueprints for preventing or resolving violent conflicts around the globe. We are a world in transition, searching for new forms of political organization, as empires and nation-states become less relevant as well as lose legitimacy. We can view the European Union as an experiment in governance which has yet no name (it is neither a federal state nor a confederation of states) and whose outcome is in doubt. The early Church, as an egalitarian, multinational, socially inclusive ekklesia, in which the weakest members were to be the most honoured, stood as a radical antithesis to the politics of both empire and republic. But in the ensuing centuries it was quickly co-opted by  empires and republics, and even took on the characteristics of empire in many of its manifestations. If as Christians we are to contribute to the quest for a more just and peaceable world, can we proclaim the Good News of the Reign of God without a decisive repudiation of  all those forms of disunity, chauvinisms, fundamentalisms, greed and petty ‘empire-building’ that still distort the face of Christ in his Body, the Church? Isn’t this the challenge of integral mission today?

‘The role of the church in the transformation of society and its democratic reconstruction does not derive from any political power which it may have, but from the redemptive power of the Cross, the message of repentance, forgiveness, reparation and reconciliation.’ (Ramachandra, Vinoth, Global Conflict, Micah Network, September 2006)

No amounting of shouting about increasing overseas aid is going to make a real difference until a significant proportion of the voting population is prepared to live in a way that enables it to happen. (Quote from Anne Wilkinson Hayes, from David Coffey, Church and Community, Micah Network, September 2066)

One of the most urgent questions for the church worldwide is ‘How do we produce these kind of disciples of Jesus. William Abraham says the ministry of making disciples is not just a moral imperative it’s a missionary imperative. We need followers of Jesus Christ trained in the principles of discipleship who work as agents of transformation for the Gospel. (extracts from David Coffey, Church and Community, Micah Network, September 2006 – italics added.)

Papers:

- Global Conflict – Vinoth Ramachandra

- Integral Mission and Violent Conflict: Journey toward Shalom – Deborah Storie

- Peace and Reconciliation – Alexis Bilindabagabo

- Religion and Conflict – Chris Marshall

- Church and Community – David Coffey

2009: Limuru, Kenya (4th)

Theme: Creation, Stewardship and Climate Change

Challenges:

We repent of our self-serving theology of creation, and our complicity in unjust local and global economic relationships. We repent of those aspects of our individual and corporate life styles that harm creation, and of our lack of political action. We must radically change our lives in response to God’s indignation and sorrow for His creation’s agony.

Before God we commit ourselves, and call on the whole family of faith, to bear witness to God’s redemptive purpose for all creation. We will seek appropriate ways to restore and build just relationships among human beings and with the rest of creation.  We will strive to live sustainably, rejecting consumerism and the resulting exploitation. We will teach and model care of creation and integral mission. We will intercede before God for those most affected by environmental degradation and climate change, and will act with justice and mercy among, with and on behalf of them. (Extract Declaration on Creation Stewardship and Climate Change)

Outcomes:

1. Declaration on Creation, Stewardship and Climate Change, July 2009

2. Statement to World Leaders: Our Expectations for Copenhagen (UN General Assembly on Climate which took place September 2009)

 

2012: Thun, Switzerland (5th)

Theme: Integral Mission and the Community: local church, local change global impact

Watch this space