Global Missiology English, Vol 4, No 16 (2019)

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Transforming Analytical Paradigms

J. Nelson Jennings

Published in Global Missiology,, July 2019

The subtitle of David Boschs iconic 1991 Transforming Mission is Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Applying Thomas Kuhns paradigm theory about periodic scientific revolutions, Bosch argues how similarly there have been theological and missiological paradigm shifts, or revolutions, throughout the epochs of the Christian Scriptures and of Christian history. Hence many contemporary understandings and practices of Christian mission are qualitatively different from, rather than cumulatively resting upon, previous frameworks or paradigms of mission. Per Boschs double entrende of transforming mission, mission not only transforms the world but mission itself is transformed from age to age.

However we might evaluate Boschs analytical framework of theological and missiological paradigm shifts, the reality of Christian missions ongoing, multi-generational transitional phase - including changing from a Euro-based monodirectional phenomenon to a multi-based multidirectional movement - is difficult to deny or dispute. Despite lingering impressions among some to the contrary, missionaries are no longer just white Westerners, and Christianity is not a western religion.

It should thus come as no surprise that how to analyze Christian mission - historically, currently, prescriptively, sociologically, and otherwise - continues to transition. Just as David Bosch almost 30 years ago saw Christian mission being transformed, and accordingly discerned a pattern of such transformations throughout history, so are various mission analysts today discerning new paradigms for how to analyze what has happened, what is happening, and what should be happening. Just as mission paradigms transform, so do analytical paradigms - especially in the midst of transition periods like what continues today.

This issues articles offer their particular paradigms for analyzing Christian mission, and readers can be grateful, stimulated, agitated, and spurred along in our analyses of how Christian mission is proceeding. Enjoy and feel free to contact me at with any comments or questions you might have. The authors would be happy to interact with you!

(Lead image taken from, accessed July 11, 2019.)