I agree that the concept of the mission should be re-thought as appropriate as possible. In our contemporary context, this concept has to be revitalized, that is changing our traditional understanding about it inheriting from the colonial era to the new concept concerning our life today. We can no longer conceive it as a process of Christianization for bringing people to become Christians. For me, such a traditional concept is potential to make conflict within the plural society where Christianity is not only religion in the world. When mission is considered as so, the riot will be possible to occur among religions. The question will be raised here; what should Christianity do today to keep its purpose for doing mission? Are there any alternative approaches for being church in the contemporary context without trying to evangelize people outside their community to be a part of them?
When Christianity cannot use traditional approaches, which are baptizing and preaching, they can actually take a practical approach. In this context, what we have to do is not dealing with how to make Jesus be known by people through our preaching, but through what we have to do. The language we use should be an action, which shows our involvement in the deepest human’s problem. We are called to do mission together with people in suffering and struggling for life. We as Indonesians are facing so many problems, either economically, politically, socially, ecologically, and religiously. Such contexts become a basis for Christianity to tell about Christ. What I am trying to emphasize here is the concept of social ethics. This also reminds us that Christianity or church is not only about a religious community which bring a pray and praise to the Lord, but can also become a community of the largest social community who are called to respond what is going on within their society and then participating in thinking and acting to solve those problems. Moreover, social issues have to be their main concerns, instead of making people embrace Christianity.
In the context of Indonesian, I am going to argue that we need to identify our problems in order to take a misiological action. Here I will describe some dominant Indonesian contexts:
- Poverty and Suffering
Poverty is one of Indonesian faces today. It has been so since a long time ago and threatening humanity. Almost a half of Indonesian people are living under poverty; they cannot get an access to the better life (education, health, occupation, houses, etc.). It can be predicted that more than 100 million people live in survival economy. The unjust systems are then seen as the causal factors of that reality. So, what can the church do with this? The church will find her essence as the true church which is the follower of Christ through responding such a reality, starting by criticizing the unjust system and then take an action to prevent the poverty. Those who are in suffering need to be encouraged to keep survive in it. Here we are called to bring hope, and for this reason we are doing mission.
- Ecological Challenges
The second context is ecological crisis. Because of mission is not only about saving people, so this problem should also become our concern. We need to save our ecology, the home for all the creatures. Christianity and the other can do nothing without ecology or nature where they are living now.
- Discrimination against Women and Children
Another challenge today is the gender injustice. The patriarchal culture has been constructed in order to maintain men’s importance, while women and children are discriminated and being inferior. If we understand what mission really is, we have to say that this is also a challenge to mission. Jesus himself who was sent forth by God, as the agent of mission, coming in to the world to set human free from injustice, inequality, discrimination, and violence against not only men but also women. Our misiological concern should be at this point too. Church cannot seek for the people from outside to be Christianized, for Christianization is about how to manifest Christ’s mission as stated above.
As I mentioned before, those contexts have to be our basis to do mission. The church herself will be meaningful when she can appear as an agent of God to struggle with and for the suffered, the poor, the needy, nature, women, and children. They have not more time to think about Christianization in the traditional manner, for it is ineffective and irrelevant to our own context today. Only through this way, that is the social participation as a social ethics, the church can be the true church. Nevertheless, it does not mean that Christianity becomes similar with other social institutions whose main concern to the social issues, but it becomes a part of their responsibility, even social actions should be grounded on the theological perspectives.