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“New bridges between diaspora and autochthonous churches needed for mission in Europe”

Missiologist Jim Memory analyses the main trends in church and society. He will be one of the speakers at this week’s Lausanne Europe 20/21 gathering.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 15 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2021 15:34 h
Missiologist Jim Memory, in his interview about the trends of society and church in Europe. / [link]7 Días, Protestante Digital[/link].

Understanding the trends in economy, politics, culture and migrations, is much needed to understand the present and future of mission in Europe, missiologist Jim Memory said in an interview ahead of the Lausanne Europe 20/21 gathering happening 17-20 November. 

He believes churches face obstacles for “not understanding the local context in which we live”, and that is why “challenges and opportunities of the specific circumstances on one's place” need to be “seen from the lens of larger cultural categories”.

“Actually, no one lives in Europe. We do live in a neighbourhood, in a city, etc. This is the real context for our churches”, he said in a conversation with Spanish nres website Protestante Digital based on the ‘Europe 2021’ he published earlier this year.

In Spain, where the church planter has lived for many years, “for example, it is obvious that Catalonia (in the north) is different from Andalucía (in the south), and even towns in Andalucía are different from each another. Differences can mean a world”.


Nationalism and Christian values

Jim addressed nationalism and the voices that speak of a lost Christian culture. Many of these narratives are a “trap” in which believers should not fall, he believes. “Nationalism is like a virus that reappears often in history” and the “danger” is that these “populist movements” often “present themselves as defenders of the Christian values”.

But “the real identity of a Christian does not lie in a national feeling”, and the gospel collides with nationalism because the good news “is both for ‘us’ and for ‘them’”, Memory says.


Gender identity and climate change

The LGBT movements and their influence in Europe were not on the first draft of his analysis, admits Memory, but he included them after becoming incrasingly aware of the influence these movements have had in the last years.

“We need a clear and open preaching of a theology of the body and sexuality”, says the author. “We do not often have the courage to preach and talk about the issue, this is part of the problem (…) Jesus showed us how to address these issues: with truth and mercy”.

Another hot topic is climate change. “Young people are very concerned and if we do not include creation care in our preaching, we will lose some of them in our churches”. There have been “many evangelicals in Glasgow, these days, trying to make their voice as Christians heard”, Memory says referring to the major COP26 gathering in Glasgow.

The Cape Town Lausanne Commitment (2010, South Africa) is clear on this issue, recalls the author: “The Bible declares God’s redemptive purpose for creation itself. Integral mission means discerning, proclaiming, and living out, the biblical truth that the gospel is God’s good news, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for individual persons, and for society, and for creation”.

[photo_footer]  A moment of the interview with Protestante Digital. / PD [/photo_footer] 

The church and spirituality in a secularist context

Despite the strong secularist tendencies in Europe, “it is obvious that the church is not mortally wounded”, says Memory.

The author refers to research of Andrew Walls in this area, adding that “if today in Europe we are on the periphery of the world’s Christianity - there are many more Christians in the Majority World - this should cause us to be humble but also hopeful”.

Because “God is not done with Europe. We should be expecting the signals of the revival that,in the history of Christianity, is always birthed in the periphery”.


3 hopeful signs for the church in Europe

So, what are the good news for mission in Europe? Memory speaks of three “multiplications”: the diaspora churches (churches started by migrants who arrive to Europe), church planting networks, and youth movements.

In any city in Europe you go, you will stumble on a diaspora church. Even if you do not see them, they are there”. A “radical change in mission” could happen if diaspora churches and ‘national’ churches improve their collaboration in gospel work. Foreign Christians arriving in Europe “come with a passion for the gospel, a faith and confidence in God and a security that God has brough them here with a purpose”, says Memory.

“We need to bring together the understanding of the European reality of the European churches with the passion for the gospel of the churches coming from the Majority World”. If this combination happens, “then we will be able to see great things in the years to come”.

But for that, firstly “we need to build new bridges of collaboration between the diaspora  and the autochthone churches in Europe”.


Stepping up to the challenge

Jim Memory sees Europe in a “missional frontier”. “We should no longer back to the past and mourn that things are no longer how they used to be. We should look toward the future with hope”.

“We are in a moment in which Europeans are doubting like never before about the ‘secular gospels’: the economy, the politics, prosperity… People are more sensitive than ever to a presentation of life and word of the gospel, which truly gives a real hope that does not disappoint”.

“We should not be afraid of preaching the gospel. And contextualised church plantings are also much needed”.


The ‘Europe 2021’ report and Lausanne Europe 20/21

The 'Europe 2021' report, which Jim Memory published earlier this year, is available for download here, This document will be the basis of his plenary address at next week’s Lausanne 20/21 Gathering.

It will be the first ever Lausanne Movement Europe continental gathering, after many years of work of national Lausanne movements and issue networks.

The LE 20/21 will bring together evangelical leaders from across the continent, as well as many invited from other parts of the world. Learn more about the Gathering here and here (official website).  

Watch the full interview with Jim Memory on Protestante Digital (in Spanish).




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