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Mission-shaped Unity, by Colin Marsh and Jim Currin

About this bookmission shaped unity pic

This booklet has been written to give a theological and practical exploration of Missio Dei and how it is currently shaping changes taking place in Churches Together at national, regional and local levels.

Colin Marsh is the Ecumenical Development Officer for Birmingham Churches Together, and provides the background and analysis to Missio Dei with an exploration of its relation to mission and unity. Colin has a research doctorate from Edinburgh and has ministered in Liverpool and Zambia. He taught mission at the United College of the Ascension, Birmingham

Jim Currin is a Church Army evangelist and currently serves as Secretary for Evangelisation at Churches Together in England. Jim has written several books for Grove including Paradox in the Gospel? and The 360 Gospel of Jesus. Here Jim responds to Colin’s invitation to comment on Missio Dei with practical and biblical observations.

Colin and Jim write to raise questions that will inspire readers to bring about new ways of being churches together.

Preface from Mission-shaped Unity

Mission Shaped Unity is a challenge to those whose background is mission and evangelism - today we see in many practical examples that Christians now assume to do it together, often in new ways, and whether or not they understand the theology of Missio Dei.

Mission Shaped Unity is also a challenge to those whose background has been shaped by the quest for ‘full visible unity’ of the church – a quest which is now being shaped by Missio Dei.

What we are finding is that, in many various contexts, new ways of being churches together are emerging in fulfilment of Jesus prayer in John 17:20-23.

Introduction from Mission-shaped Unity

From the prayer of Jesus in John 17 onwards, mission and unity have been linked to two sides of a coin. Here Colin Marsh and Jim Currin show that, in recent years, they have come together in a new way. Already the effects are far reaching. Further, this has particular implications for groups of churches working together.

Colin Marsh charts the theological development of Missio Dei, in its international and UK context, and how it both shapes mission and unity into a whole, while Jim Currin adds some comment about how it particularly relates to evangelism. The changes are dramatic and the future unknown, but it is clear that the way we now generally understand the Missio Dei has changed the way we share the good news of Jesus Christ in the UK today.

Colin and Jim are particularly grateful to the Very Rev Dr Mark Beach who is now Dean of Rochester Cathedral. Mark wrote a paper for the ‘Revive Rugby’ website  which illustrates how this town in the Midlands has changed the model of ‘Churches Together’. These changes are being seen in many other places, whether rural, towns like Rugby, or urban such as the Birmingham Churches Together context in which Colin works. This is all in fulfilment of Jesus prayer that we may be one that others may believe.

‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who believe in me through the message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me’.
John 17:20-23 
New International Version

Note re views expressed

Colin and Jim contribute in their personal capacity and the perspectives they offer do not necessarily reflect the views of Churches Together in England or Birmingham Churches Together.


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Blog for conversation

Colin has set up a blog to encourage conversation about Mission-shaped Unity:


Jim Currin, 19/03/2014
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