Strategy and Spirituality in Global Mission

One of the blessings of my role at Tabor is getting out of Adelaide and engaging with mission-minded leaders elsewhere in Australia and overseas.  Recently, I attended Mission Interlink’s ConNEXTion conference in Sydney.  Missions Interlink, an organization I have been associated with since 1991, is the peak body for global mission agencies in Australia.  The theme in the plenary sessions and 24 workshops was strategy and spirituality in the global mission arena from the perspectives of the Scriptures, godly practitioners and formal missiological research.

Some of the key ideas and reflections are worth sharing to maximize the impact of the gathering.  Here are four takeaways that have relevance for the missions industry and for churches at the local and denominational levels.  Much is being learnt about encouraging God’s people into mission that integrates strategy and spirituality.  Click here for a link to the Missions Interlink website where further information can be found.

Number 1 – Diversity in Making Missional Decisions

Eddie Arthur from Global Connections in the UK was the keynote speaker. He gave three excellent Bible-focused presentations on the following theme: In the footsteps of the Spirit: Rethinking Mission Strategy from Acts of the Apostles.  He explored key missional figures in the growth of the early church in the Gentile world (Philip, Barnabas and Paul) and how they approached strategy in response to persecution, new contexts, the direction of the Holy Spirit, the need to monitor and support the growth of the church in new geographic locations, and listening to God’s people.

Number 2 – Imagery for Mobilizing for Global Mission

A forthcoming book from WEA Missions Commission on mobilizing for mission entitled Mission in Motion by Malcolm Gold and Jay Matenga calls the global church to fan the flame so God can thrust out workers into the harvest. They have identified four interacting ideal types for mobilization (pragmatic, educational, formulaic and relational) and use fire as a metaphor to explore the key accelerants (influential relationships and education), retardants (funding mission agency, sending context, spiritual opposition and gender), and ignition for global and local mission.

 Number 3 – Theologize or Mobilize?

Over the past 40 years the evangelical mission community has created specific compelling narratives and constructs to aid the mobilization for global mission such as Unreached People Groups, Homogenous Unit Principle and the 10/40 Window.  Darrell Jackson challenged us to evaluate these stories, to address the blind spots they create, and to contemplate and validate other strategies and compelling narratives for mobilisation, thereby encouraging healthy contextual innovation.

Number 4 – Challenges Facing the Australian Church in Regards to Global Mission

The Australian data from NCLS reveals that clear challenges exist for global mission agencies.  The aging nature of the financial supporters of agencies, the strong focus on social action type activities rather than evangelistic and church planting type activities, and the declining presence of younger generations will put pressure on agencies in the next decade. Tackling and engaging these national trends will be vital for churches and agencies to minimize their potential impact.

These four takeaways provide challenges. If you want to converse with me further about them, then don’t hesitate to contact me at Tabor as I am willing to pray and explore innovation and creative responses.


David Turnbull


Sharing in the Hospitality of God

espinetaa4pdf_page_01The Christian God is inherently hospitable- open hearted and welcoming. This is who he is. This is what he has always been like. This is what theologians mean when they say that God is Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Michael Reeves says in his book Delighting in the Trinity that “It is only when you grasp what it means for God to be Trinity that you really sense the beauty , the overflowing kindness, the heart grabbing loveliness of God.”  It is also where all talk of Christian hospitality should begin, for it is only in receiving the hospitality of this wonderful God that we are freed to join in his hospitality towards others. Becoming hospitable is not something we have to work at, but something we share in.

Jürgen Moltmann says that ono before he called the world into existence with the command “Let there be,” the Father’s nature was always to “let be”  – to grant space and room for the other. Early theologians referred to the Father as a fountain forever overflowing with life and love.  A fountain that did not overflow could not be called a fountain, just so, the Father would not be the Father if he was not inherently life-giving and loving. This is his nature – essential to who he is. Karl Barth says the Christian God is the self-giving Godthe God who is himself in his self-giving.

That the triune God is forever giving is disclosed to us in the way that he acts towards us. It is why Jesus said “As the Father has loved me so have I loved you” (Jn 15:19), and why Paul assures us that “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:32). It is also why Tom Smail calls the Holy Spirit the “Giving Gift,” or “the Gift that keeps on giving,” and why Michael Reeves speaks of the beautifying work of the Spirit in our lives as an act of divine sharing – “Through the giving of the Spirit, God shares with us – catches us up into-the life that is his.” It is also why, the early Church Father Irenaeus said long ago, the Son and the Spirit are the two hands of the Father reaching out to gather us up into the Father’s embrace.

What greater expression of hospitality could there be: the hospitable God receiving us, welcoming us, granting us a share in his own divine life? By the grace of God alone, we, sinners as we are, have been taken in by God himself. C. S. Lewis says that we have been “welcomed into the heart of things.” Through the Spirit we too experience the Father’s delight in his Son.  We actually share in the Son’s belovedness – “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6). Our one great sin, then, is to refuse the hospitality of this God – to say no to the God who loves us, to close ourselves to the one who has opened his life to us – or, having received from him, to refuse to pass on this hospitality to others.

What does sharing in the hospitality of God towards others look like? I can find no better illustration than in Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Miserables, where Bishop Monseigneur Bienvenu (his name means “welcome”) surprises the ex-prisoner and now destitute Jean Valjean by receiving him as an honoured guest into his house. The dialogue between the two goes like this:

“Monsieur Cure,” said the man, “you are good: you don’t despise me. You take me into your house; you light your candles for me, and I haven’t hid from you where I come from, and how miserable I am.

The bishop, who was sitting near him, touched his hand gently and said: “You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome. And do not thank me; do not tell me that I take you into my house. This is the home of no man, except him who needs asylum. I tell you, who are a traveler, that you are more at home here than I; whatever is here is yours. What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it.

The man opened his eyes in astonishment:

“Really? You knew my name?”

“Yes,” answered the bishop, “your name is my brother.”


MANNA magazine

Welcome to Manna the magazine!

The teaching faculty of the School of Ministry, Theology, and Culture at Tabor is committed to serving the church by thinking about the gospel. We believe that individuals and the church can be transformed by the renewing of our/their minds.

Sometimes college lecturers are accused of “living in an ivory tower”, “being too theoretical”, and “not concerned with the life of the church.” This stereotype doesn’t apply at Tabor; we are part of the church, and we want to see it grow in faithfulness to Jesus. This is why we have committed ourselves providing this magazine for free distribution to the churches of South Australia. We plan to publish three issues of Manna each year; we hope you find them insightful.

Click for digital flip magazine

If you have any questions or would like hard copies for your Church, please contact Samantha Owens

Dr Aaron Chalmers

Head of the School  of Ministry, Theology and Culture


Today would be a good day to be in Tokyo

Thinking Out Loud ...

Tokyo was the first city I visited on my first big overseas trip. I only had a few days there, and at that stage I hadn’t really figured out what kind of traveller I was, what I really loved to do. I stayed with some friends who were living there and had a fantastic time, including celebrating New Year’s Eve. But I think it would be great to go back there now, over a decade later, when I have much more travel experience under my belt and I know why I love travelling so much, and see more of what this amazing city has to teach me.


What did I love about Tokyo?

Probably the initial reason I have been thinking about Tokyo this week is because I have discovered a great little Japanese restaurant right near my house that does really yummy okonomiyaki. It was definitely my favourite food discovery of…

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What do you do when you realise you’re not living out what you say you value?

Thinking Out Loud ...

My friend Sarah wrote a great post last week called “When the exceptions to your routines become the rule” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s well worth a read!

Her key point is that our lives can change and without realising it we find there is a disconnect between our ideas about the way we routinely live and the reality. And it has challenged me to consider where this might be true in my own life.

For example, I think of myself as a person who is always on time to things. But my life is currently a whole lot busier than it has been in previous years, and that perspective I have of myself is no longer entirely true. My Book Club friends could attest to this as for some reason they bear the brunt of it – I’m nearly always late (although come to think…

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