Cliff College

Names - CliffGroup - close up

Group - close up

The Group at Cliff College

The Group at Cliff College


More to talk about

More to talk about

Let's think about that

Let's think about that

Talking ...

Talking ...

Those who attended the conference:

Nick Bowman

Richard Briggs

John Butt

Julie Coates

Judy Diatta

Linda Egerton

Usman Habib

Ralph Hanger

Gudrun Harries

Jim Harries

Rev Johnson Makoti

Allen Matsikiti

Richman Ncube

Deji Okegbile

Gill Thompson

Mike Thompson

The Keynote papers presented are found in reports of other conferences. The paper by Julia Pring was read in full, and then Jim Harries summarised the paper by Stan Nussbaum.

Stephen Skuce Response 10 March 2009 Cliff College

There are three broad issues I wish to raise in this brief response.

1 English as a global language

English is, of course, far more than the language of certain nations but has become an international language of communication. It is commonplace to find communication in English when none of the participants has English as their first language.

An additional layer is where the use of English in a nation that does not official use English may enable mission. The example is from my own ministry in Sri Lanka where two of my congregations used English, partially so that the Sinhala and Tamil members could worship together, rather than be divided in worship on linguistic grounds. In a country where there has been an ongoing civil war between elements of the Sinhala and Tamil communities, this is a very important Christian statement. There is no western involvement in this context. The use of a common language may be much more important in a city, where people have migrated from various linguistic backgrounds, than in rural areas that tend to be more mono-lingual. In such contexts English can unite rather than divide.

2 Inconsistency of Vulnerable Mission

The western missionaries who seek to live and work by VM principles are not normally tent making missionaries and so are funded by western support to live in their ministry context. Western funding is essential in such cases and to argue that western funding can be used for general living expenses, medical, visits to home country, pension provision etc, but not for particular ministry costs is somewhat inconsistent.

3 Mission to Europe?

If Nigerians working missionally in Britain are exempt from VM principles due to the very limited nature of the VM understanding as being from the west to the two thirds world, then this very limitation points to the irrelevancy of VM. There is so little mission from Britain to the two thirds world involving long term missionaries, when compared to the missionary thrust coming the other way, that VM’s self limitation is in itself a weakness not a strength. I am not convinced that VM is the way to do mission everywhere by all, but if VM has caught onto something important the question of language and resources needs to be considered more widely. If not, from a European perspective, VM will be an irrelevancy.

(Steve Skuce’s questions were addressed in the discussion that followed his response, and then in the course of the rest of the day.)