Servant Mission in a Troubled World

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A consideration of theological, ethical, and missiological implications of political violence, human dislocation, economic inequity, and religious ideology as contexts for Christian life and witness.


Class sessions will include time for discussion of the issues raised in the lectures and in the readings. While reading the sources listed in the bibliography will benefit class participants, the most important reading will be the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and select passages from Job, Timothy, and Acts. These texts will be read in class, in small groups, as a basis for reflection and discussion.  God’s mission, in God’s world, must be done in God’s way. Our primary source of understanding, evaluation and guidance is the Bible. Not only is Jesus “the way, the truth, and the life,” but by word and example he taught his followers what the principles and priorities of their mission on earth should be. His followers are his body on earth, commissioned and equipped to do his will, in his way.

Resource Person

Dr. Jonathan J. Bonk is executive director emeritus of OMSC. A resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, he was editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research. Dr. Bonk is research professor of mission at Boston University, and director of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography 


SESSIONS 1 & 2: The Good News of interruptions: lessons from Luke

Reading: The Gospel of Luke. As you read Luke’s account of the life of Jesus, think about what it means to be a servant, setting aside one’s own agenda in favor of the agenda of those whom one serves. This is most readily seen in the frequency of the interruptions in the life of Jesus, where his own agenda was set aside and the pressing personal agendas of the men and women who needed to use him for their purposes became his focus. Take note of who these people were, and reflect on their significance in society.

SESSIONS 3 & 4: The Kingdom of God in Matthew: implications for Christian missions in our troubled world

Reading: The Gospel of Matthew. As you read Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus, take special notice of what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven, and the relationship of this Kingdom to his understanding of the Good News.

SESSION 5 & 6: Possessions, power, and servanthood in our troubled world

ReadingJob 29:11-17; Job 31:16-28; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19; Acts 20:33-35. As you read these Scripture passages, ask yourself whether, and if so, how, a rich Christian can be a servant. Make a list of the characteristics of a servant of God who is rich compared to those whom he or she serves. What are some of the ongoing dilemmas and challenges that this kind of teaching poses for you in your own ministry? What can you do about it?


  • Introductions
  • Our troubled world
  • The Church’s mission in our troubled world
  • What “servant” means
  • God’s Kingdom in our troubled world
  • Understanding the Good News as Jesus did
  • The Good News and ethics
  • Who then can be saved in our troubled world? Just how “good” is the Good News?
  • Open discussion