Archive for the ‘education’ category

Vista 15: On reflection

October 30, 2013

on reflectonThe last edition of Vista highlighted that one person’s viewpoint alone however well informed, can never give a true picture of what is happening; particularly in a continent as diverse as Europe. What is needed are thoughtful and perceptive insights into the realities of mission practice across Europe – from those engaged in mission. In other words, Europe needs “reflective practitioners”.

This term was coined by Donald Schön as recently as 1983. He defined reflective practice as “the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning” (Schön). Other educationalists have observed that, consciously or not, learning often takes place through a series of stages. The Kolb Learning Cycle, for example, isolates these as concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation.

kolb_cycleThe key insight was that we don’t automatically learn from our experiences. Reflection on experience is fundamental in order to obtain generalisations which might then be applied to new situations. And this is no less true for Christian mission.

Mission in Europe doesn’t need gurus; it needs reflective practitioners who have been equipped with the tools to think deeply about their own immediate context and mission practice. That has certainly been the ethos of the MA in European Mission at Redcliffe College. And Vista is one forum for highlighting examples of good reflective practice.

The articles in this issue of Vista are all written by practitioners who are combining their work with a period of academic study. James Cochrane, who has lived and worked in Portugal for a number of years, researches the relevance of the missiological conversation for Portuguese church.  Redcliffe MA student, Rosemary Caudwell brings an understanding of the workings of the European Parliament to her refection on the churches’ engagement with the EU.

David Roche, also a Redcliffe student, as well as a policeman in London, writes about how London City Mission is approaching the issue of homelessness amongst migrants, balancing practical care with sharing the Gospel with this growing population.  And Australian pastor James Sutherland compares three very different ministries he encountered on a study tour of Europe this summer with Darrell Jackson & Mike Frost.

The concept of missio Dei reminds us that “the missionary initiative comes from God alone” (Bosch). It is God’s mission, not ours. And yet, not only in active participation in the experience of mission but also in the acts of reflection, conceptualization and experimentation, “the marvel is that God invites us to join in” (Wright)

Vista 15 October 2013

Protestant Armenians

March 16, 2010

A Norovank Foundation article, dated 16th March, offers an Armenian view of Protestants within Armenia and among the global Diaspora.

The first Protestant community of Armenians is recorded in Istanbul in 1846. By 1914 there were an estimated 60,000. After the post-Soviet political changes the Armenian Evangelical Church was re-registered in 1994 and has continued to expand gradually. Expansion has given them a higher national profile and Armenian Evangelicals have worked hard to establish that their Christian tradition can be understood as culturally Armenian.

Evangelical protestants in Armenia generally see their roots in one of two alternative sources. Some trace their origins to two medieval Armenian sectarian movements, the Pavlikians and the Tondrakians, whereas a second group look back to seventeenth reform movements within the (Orthodox) Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC). The point of connection between the two emphases is that the Reform movements within the AAC also drew inspiration from the sectarian Pavlikians and the Tondrakians.

Armenian evangelicals are widely seen to be making valuable educational and cultural contributions to Armenian society (including their invaluable role in translating the Bible into contemporary Armenian) as well as playing an important role in the preservation of national identity. Their missionary activity among Armenian Muslims during the Ottoman period in Turkey was welcomed by the AAC during that period.

Despite this positive reporting of the Armenian Evangelical Church, Baptists and others keep a close watch on the Religious Laws of Armenia through which there exists the tendency for nudging it little by little towards a closer relationship of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian State.

The original article can be viewed at

Germany: conversion and mission

March 15, 2010

Special report cover‘Older and Wiser’ a 16 page report on Germany, published in this week’s Economist, is also available as a free pdf download on their website at In addition to the usual economic discussion, there are maps outlining current levels of  unemployment by region plus graphs and articles dealing with education and migration. Includes a useful updated assessment of German re-unification.

In terms of mission in Europe, Germany is frequently overlooked, but the high levels of atheism in former East Germany continues to prove a challenge. The Research Institute for Evangelisation and Church Renewal (IEEG) at Griefswald University belongs to the German Church (EKD) and is currently engaged in an important piece of research on ‘conversion in Germany’. It’s appointed field workers with special responsibility to work in the east of Germany as a way of trying to understand how better to engage the gospel among them. We will continue to cover this important work when more research findings are released.