Thursday, 22 March 2018

Modern Mission & Evangelism

Albin Hillert/WCC Albin Hillert/WCC

I was blessed to represent the Uniting Church in Australia at the World Council of Churches’ conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania.

Over a thousand participants came together from all corners of the globe to engage in mission and evangelism from different Christian traditions.

Having just spent the last 10 months living and working in Tanzania, it was a great opportunity to actively take part in such an historic conference.

The conference attended to the ‘signs of the times’ that particularly affect African people and their lands. Through Bible study, prayer and worship, and sharing stories together, we grappled with the meaning behind the conference theme: “Moving in the Spirit: Called to transforming discipleship”.

The theme offered a prophetic message amidst the messy complexities of today’s world and gave us some important questions to answer:

  • What will it mean for us, as individuals and churches, to be transformed in the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • What will it mean to join the Spirit in transforming and healing a broken world?

When I reflected on transforming discipleship, I discovered three profoundly different yet closely related meanings:

  • discipleship needs to be transformed
  • we are called to be disciples who are constantly open to being transformed, individually and communally, in our following of Christ
  • we are called to be disciples who are ourselves transforming, and as such we are privileged to join in the mission of the triune God, working together towards life, living out the values of the kingdom of God, and engaging in mission from the margins.

The conference ended with a sending service and the ‘Arusha Call to Discipleship’, a statement of intent to all disciples of Christ.

My time at the conference reminded me that the Holy Spirit continues to move in our time, and urgently calls us as Christian communities to respond with a commitment to communal conversation and transforming discipleship. 

Emily Evans is also the Uniting Church in Australia’s representative on the World Council of Churches Executive and Central Committees.