Preaching the Truly Good News

2 comments Written on January 31st, 2017     
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Authenticity: Preaching the Truly Good News

First of all, our mission has to be authentic, that is, it has to be true to the goodness of the good news. For too long, the church colluded with colonial powers that committed crimes against humanity—specifically, non-Western peoples—in the name of civilizing the world. Granted, it was the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times; but the courthouse of history has not let the church off the hook for its role in the colonial project. For hundreds of years, mission was not necessarily “good news” for native peoples, as they were subjected to forced evangelism and Christian education, which had the goal of Western assimilation. Not very good news!

We might be tempted to say that the colonial era of missions is behind us now, but the truth is, old ways die hard. Critical, condescending attitudes toward host peoples, manipulative evangelistic tactics, Christo-American exceptionalism, and alien forms of church—all are realities that still exist today. In our postcolonial world there should be zero tolerance for such practices.

For too long, the church colluded with colonial powers that committed crimes against humanity—specifically, non-Western peoples—in the name of civilizing the world.

Covenant missionaries are well aware of these concerns, and they are committed to bearing witness to the good news of God’s saving love, unconditional mercy, and true peace with justice. Mission today needs to be a conduit of the truly good news of Jesus Christ. It needs to be authentic to the gospel.


This article is part of the  Companion’s “Reimagine That” series, which includes, stories, interviews, and commentary about shifts in various areas of ministry throughout the church.


For further reading, see Our Global Families: Christians Embracing Common Identity in a Changing World. Authors Todd M. Johnson and Covenanter Cindy M. Wu provide a foundation for understanding our shared Christian identity in the world—and then explore practical ways that identity impacts the church, interfaith communities, and the world’s need for justice and peace.

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2 comments “Preaching the Truly Good News”

Thanks Al. Looks like an interesting series and I couldn’t agree with you more on your first point of authenticity. I live and minister in a country where colonial style evangelism was practiced for a very long time and signs of it are still readily evident in the church. In light of your strong demand: ” In our postcolonial world there should be zero tolerance for such practices” the question we face is how to deal with the reality of a national church deeply rooted in and influenced by such practices. Can you undo the stuff of history? If so, what is the role of foreign missionaries like myself? When the entire society and culture has been shaped by a history of colonization, what does it mean for a national church to embrace truly indigenous forms and practices and still remain relevant and tangible for today’s people? Put into everyday context, the majority of Christians in my country of service came to faith in Western styled churches, were often introduced to the faith when they started attending English conversation classes taught by a missionary, have sung Western hymns all their life, were given “Christian” names at their baptism (like Paul, Martha, Joshua etc.), and deeply cherish their spiritual journey because it has led them to a personal walk with Jesus Christ and an experience of God’s kingdom here on earth. How does one, especially an outsider, practice zero tolerance for colonial evangelism and yet honor and embrace these people who make up the bulk of today’s church in this country?

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jim, thanks for engaging. the questions you raise are the right ones, and if there were standardized answers, i would give them! i don’t know what zero tolerance might look like in japan, but i hope that that it is what both missionary community and national church aspire toward. generally speaking, forward-looking efforts to reform church and mission have greater impact than backward-looking efforts to try to undo history. having said that, i believe repentance and confession on the part of western missionaries would go a long way in establishing true and equal partnership in the gospel, as would assuming a genuinely humble posture and relinquishing power where possible from now on. moreover, if reparations can be made, then we need to make them. i would also encourage japanese church leaders to address questions, such as: what would a truly japanese community of jesus followers look like? what songs would they sing? what instruments would they use? what elements would they use for communion? how would this community engage with the larger community? etcetera. thanks again for your comments, jim.

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