Transforming Mission – Chapter 1

March 12, 2009

When the infant Jesus was presented to God in the Jerusalem temple, so Luke tells us, the aged Simeon blessed him and said to Mary, “This child is set … for a sign that is spoken against” (Lk 2:34). So even the signs that he did erect and the sign that he himself was were ambigious and disputed. It was not possible to convince everybody of the authenticity of Jesus. He ministered in weakness, under a shadow, as it were.  This is, however, how authentic mission always present itself –  in weakness. As Paul says, in defiance of all logic: “It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).

Bosch (1991:49)

It’s been two years since I told Roger that one thing that I belief the South African emerging conversation can give the world is to really engage the work of David Bosch. This morning we started discussing Transforming Mission. Tom,  ArthurJoeChris, Marina and Annemie joined the discussion. The feel under us was that this discussion was neccesary to root our theology in South Africa again (both for the South Africans and the Americans).

What stood out? First I think was the quote above. Mission in our churches seem to be discussed using battle terminology and metaphors, looking like political rallies, and always in a triumphant tone. Our consumer culture require from us that we use this kind of talk, that we share the amazing success stories. But for Jesus is was grounded in weakness, it ended in the cross. It’s difficult to translate this into our world though… Annemie shared a story of someone from a communist country that they knew that became a Christian, and went to a local Charismatic church years ago, and then reporting that this looked exacty like a communist pollitical rally.

It remains impossible, however, to fit Jesus into a clearly circumscribable framework. Schweizer rightly calls him “the man who fits no formula”

Bosch (1991:47)

This was the other thing that stood out for me. Jesus pointed to a “different way”, we however struggle to interpret this for our day and age. The honesty within the group really stood out here, how we struggle to know what to do within our context.

So, lot’s of questions after this discussion. But it really was a brilliant discussion! Even without the triumphant answers you get the feeling that their is something real in this discussion, a willingness to be challenged on what it really means to live in the way of Jesus in South Africa today.

Other bloggers on Transforming Mission, Chapter 1:

Tom Smith

Chris Kamalski

Joe Reed

Arnau van Wyngaard

(list would probably still grow)

5 Responses to “Transforming Mission – Chapter 1”


  1. […] the book and then they blog about their findings. You can read more about this exciting venture here. I’ve asked Cobus to allow me (and I assume others would also be welcome) who do not have the […]


  2. […] *Cobus’s thoughts; *Tom Smith’s thoughts; *Arthur Stewart’s thoughts; *Joe Reed’s thoughts […]

  3. Johnny Oommen Says:

    I am a medical doctor working in a mission hospital in Orissa, India. I just came across David Bosch’s book, and I am amazed by it. So many of the questions i have been chasing in my mind and in dialogue with friends, have been addressed so thoroughly and systemmatically here. I am still working my way through it, with much gratitude and learning. I wish that the Gospel of John had been one of the biblical pillars he had chosen to delineate the understandin of mission from – it would be different in many ways from the Mathew, Luke-Acts and Paul position taken. But thats another story. I just write in to say the issues you discuss are ever so relevant even in extremely differnt settings such as mine. God bless. Johnny Oommen

  4. cobus Says:

    It’s so good to know that his writings can help to make sense out of mission in these totally different contexts! Would love to here more of your thoughts as you work through the book.


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