Missionary theologian Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998) believed that the Spirit rather than the church is the prime mover and “active agent of mission,” who “goes before the church in its missionary journey.” It is in this context that Newbigin spoke in an intriguing phrase about the “previousness of the kingdom”; the reality that God was already there in the local situation before we ever arrived, and continues to be there ahead of us as we seek to discern the way forward in mission. This will often come as a surprise to the church, and challenge leaders to change their perceptions and renew their commitment to the surprising ways in which God is actually at work. In short, the Spirit in Newbigin’s thought is often beckoning the church to play catch-up in an ever-unfolding story.
So how do we learn to discern this movement? And what kinds of people is God asking us to become? Join us in July as we explore these themes under the title “Discerning the Spirit in Mission.” Looking through the lens of Newbigin’s profound theology and practice, we’ll be helped by leading scholars and practitioners to discern more about the Spirit’s vision for the places we inhabit. And we’ll be seeking to learn more about what God is calling us to become.