What is Missiology?

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Defining and discerning what missiology is—and how it can help you.

The gospel message never changes.

We can’t improve upon it.

It’s the once-for-all hope for humanity.

Cultures, however, are ever-changing. Communicating the gospel in a timely way in a given cultural context matters even more in a time of rapid change like today. Therefore, an ever-present reality for the church––from pastors and staff, to leadership in denominations, networks, and movements, and including all believers––is becoming more effective in communicating the gospel in culture. This is why the work of missiologists and the field of missiology matter so much. But what do we mean by missiology?

And what is the work of a missiologist?

What Missiology Is NOT

Let me start by describing things missiologists are not, though people often assume these traits describe the work of a missiologist.

First, missiology is not simply giving an angst-driven look at current church norms.

Sometimes missiologists are perceived in this way because they are constantly asking questions about how we can most faithfully and fruitfully engage in God’s mission in this time. When we ask these questions, we sometimes find that the church is not being so faithful or fruitful. Most of us would rather see our church through rose colored glasses than really assess how we are doing. When the church is not being faithful at living an embodied mission or being fruitful in seeing people come to Christ, some may believe that missiologists who ask hard questions about these issues as being angst driven. No, they are simply doing their job.

Second, missiology is not merely being critical of what doesn’t work in the church.

Criticisms about the status quo can certainly arise when questions about faithfulness and fruitfulness …

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