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Networks survey

February 8, 2017

In the next edition of Vista we will investigate the extent to which mission agencies and organisations, churches and individuals are beginning to network and partner in order to more effectively address the complex situation in Europe.

We’ve complied a very short survey for you to tell us a bit about which networks you belong to and how effective you think they are. Please use the link below to access the survey

Examples of networks might include: a mission partnership of several agencies, a regional organisation that brings together denominational representatives, a church planting network or, a denominational network. At this stage we are trying to understand what is happening on the ground, so we would encourage you to tell us about anything you might feel is  relevant.

We look forward to hearing from you!

God’s New Society: Multicultural Churches in today’s Europe

January 11, 2017

front-pageThirty years ago, many Europeans saw multiculturalism—the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society—as an answer to Europe’s social problems. Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them.” (Kenan Malik)

The demise of multiculturalism is now taken as a given by many politicians and commentators. It is seen to have simultaneously failed the minority communities it was set out to support and fuelled nationalist movements in Europe which see migration as an existential threat. From Breivik to Brexit to Berlin’s Christmas Market massacre it is easy to point to multiculturalism as one of the root causes. Surely it is time to consign multiculturalism to the cemetery of failed political philosophies and to declare “Requiescat in pace”.

So the theme of this edition of Vista may raise some readers’ proverbial eyebrows. Yet it is precisely because multiculturalism has been given such a bad name recently that we may have been blinded to perhaps the greatest example of successful multiculturalism in Europe today: Europe’s churches.

Across the continent multicultural Christian communities are thriving and multiplying. They take many different forms, from congregations of ethnic minorities that are invited to use the premises of a local church, to multi-congregational churches where ethnic difference is celebrated and maintained through regular worship in a language and form that is familiar whilst preserving unity under a common leadership, to international churches in urban centres where members from many different cultures come together to worship in English since this is lingua franca which unites them.

Such is the diversity of types of multicultural church in today’s Europe that we decided the best approach would be through a series of case studies. As an introduction, Darrell Jackson sets out a framework classifying how Christian congregations engage with the issue of ethnic diversity. As you read the rest of this edition and reflect on your own situations we would encourage you to consider where they fit along Darrell’s continuum.

The first two case studies are of international churches. The first case is located in Karlsruhe (Germany) and describes the evolution of a traditional German congregation into an international one over the course of 15 years, setting out some of the lessons they have learned. The second case study is an example of an intentionally planted international congregation in the outskirts of Geneva and highlights some of the unique opportunities that such congregations possess.

Following that there are two articles which set out examples of multicultural church different collectives, the first for Romanians living in the UK, the second for Muslims. Chris Ducker’s article on the Romanian diaspora in the UK illustrates the widely differing degrees of engagement that a single cultural group may develop within a host culture. Ishak Ghatas, a church planter amongst Arabs in Brussels, considers four different models for multicultural churches that might engage Muslims. This edition of Vista concludes with a review of Hardy and Yarnell’s Forming Multicultural Partnerships, a passionate plea for churches in the UK to reflect the greater cultural diversity of 21st century Britain by becoming more intentionally multicultural, or as they put it: “Trinity-shaped multi-ethnic missional communities”.

A few months ago I had the privilege of visiting the Reformation Museum in Geneva. During the 1550s thousands of Protestant refugees from France, Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe, arrived in Calvin’s Geneva. In ten short years the population rose from 12,000 to 20,000. The “migrant crisis” of Calvin’s day posed a similar challenge to that we face today: how do we build God’s new society whilst recognising and celebrating ethnic and linguistic differences that give us a sense of uniqueness and belonging and are part of God’s creative plan for humanity?

At a time of resurgent nationalism this is a moment for the church to speak and act prophetically, to demonstrate that in Christ there is something, or rather someone, who can overcome racial and cultural differences. Let us not forget that the Christian telos is a multicultural one. The failure of multiculturalism is not the result of a mistaken objective but an inadequate basis on which to achieve it. And that is where the gospel comes in.
We hope you find this issue of Vista stimulating and would welcome your response and challenge on our blog:
Jim Memory

1 Malik, K. “The Failure of Multiculturalism”, Foreign Affairs, (Accessed 22/12/2016)

Download Vista 26  here

Mission after Brexit

September 2, 2016

BrexitThe four co-editors of Vista are all British missiologists with a love for Europe. In our first post-UK referendum edition of Vista we take a distinctly personal approach to what has been, for us and for many across Europe, a deeply-felt and disturbing moment in our recent history.

The sense of disappointment, disbelief, anger, grief, and embarrassment, has mellowed somewhat but the note of lament is evident in every article in this edition of Vista. But just as evident is our unshaken confidence in the gospel and the need for deep reflection on the implications of this decision for Britain and the rest of Europe.

The two lead articles by Darrell Jackson and Jonathan Chaplin encourage church and mission leaders to use this moment to ask fundamental questions about their values and practice and their future political engagement in Europe.

Chris Ducker looks at the role that identity played in the decision and what this means for mission post-Brexit, and Jim Memory considers some of the controlling narratives that may have motivated many British Christians to vote Leave.

This edition of Vista concludes with three shorter articles: an abstract of a Redcliffe MA dissertation exploring the attitudes to mission in mainland Europe in UK Anglican churches; a review of “God and the EU”, Chaplin and Wilton’s collection of essays on political theology and the EU; and a personal piece by Jo Appleton that reminds us of the sovereignty of God even over Brexit and all its implications.

A future edition will feature non-British perspectives on this issue but, for now,
we would really encourage you to leave your comments below.

Download Vista 25 : Mission after Brexit 



Europe and the environment

May 13, 2016

The First Commandment

Pollarding a willow A Rocha Zwolle (Rogier Bos) web

According to the creation narrative in Genesis 1, the very first commandment that God gave was to birds, whales, fish and other creatures to “be fruitful and multiply”, to fill the seas and skies with God’s creatures (Gen. 1:22). His first commandment to humans was to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

For most of human history the subjection of creation was a daily struggle for farmers, herders and every human, as they toiled against the awesome power of nature. The industrial revolution changed all that, and today global ecosystems are increasingly “subject” to human influence in all sorts of negative ways.

It is only very recently that evangelical Christians have woken up to the part that Creation Care has in God’s mission. Chris Walley of A Rocha provides our lead article—a case for evangelicals to engage in environmental conservation then Darrell Jackson reviews mission agency engagement with this issue.

We then focus more specifically on Europe. Martin Hodson of The John Ray Initiative gives an overview of the impact of climate change on Europe, and I then give a national example, setting out the particular challenges of climate change for Spain. Jo Appleton concludes this edition of Vista by reviewing attitudes to the environment among Europeans.

We pray this edition of Vista  challenges you to think again about God’s first commandment to us.

Download Vista Issue 24 May 2016

Refugees in Europe: a fence or a bridge?

February 5, 2016

For details of the EEMA’s conference this year, which focuses on the current refugee crisis in Europe and the ongoing impact for the church in Europe, visit their website

The conference runs from 21-25 June and will be held in Bucharest, Romania