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25 MARCH – 5 APRIL 2004.

The visit covered two countries:

  1. Livingstone, Zambia, to participate in the conference “Mission in the 21st Century. Mission as Evangelism in Tension with Mission as Development”, 25 March to1 April 2004, organised by the United Theological College of Zambia (UTCZ).
  2. Johannesburg, South Africa, 2-5 April, hosted by the SACC (South Africa Council of Churches).

I. The Mission Conference in Zambia

1.1 Introduction (quote from the preparatory papers).

As we move into the 21st Century what are the needs of the church that we as people of God need to consider and what are the needs of the world to which we as the church feel called to respond? What is our role as Christians living in a world that is becoming more diverse, more abusive and violent, more centrist and less caring, less thoughtful, uncaring of the injustices that are all around us, immobilised by the enormity of the challenges before us?

The church is growing in some parts of our world and the church is struggling for survival in other parts of the world. The church is involved in the political life and struggle for liberation of its people in some parts of the world and the church is insular and considered not terribly relevant to the life of its people in other parts of the world. The world continues to grow in a way that the rich are getting richer and fewer, as the poor become more poor and grow in number. The church in all parts of the world continues to ask itself "what is the appropriate role of the church in this world?"

For many years the church has equated mission with evangelisation [winning or converting people to Christ]. Today we tend to have a wide variety of understandings concerning the concept of mission. What do these understandings contribute to the breadth and depth of our understanding and what understandings of mission are needed in the church today? What can we learn from one another as we come with our different cultures and our different life experiences and our different understanding of mission.

1.1 Purpose, Aim, Goals and Sub-Themes

With this background, the purpose of the Conference was to explore and examine the commonalities and tensions between mission as evangelism and mission as development as it has been, and is being experienced in many of the once politically colonised and the now economically colonised countries of the south.

As we explored why some churches are growing while others are diminishing we aimed to:

  • Explore the tensions between mission as evangelism and mission as development.
  • Examine the implication for our international context and contexts.
  • Challenge and be challenged by one another as we strive to discern the role and practice of mission in, and for the 21st century.
  • Examine the role of interfaith dialogue and its relationship to mission.

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