Mission Doesn’t Have a Reverse Gear

EMQ » January–April 2024 » Volume 60 Issue 1

Bangui, Central African Republic: A YWAM missionary from Cameroon teaches a discipleship training school class at the YWAM Bangui base. Photo by Zeke du Plessis, courtesy of WGA.

Summary: Reverse mission is often used to describe Majority World mission movements, particularly ones to Western countries. But this way of describing mission carries baggage that encourages certain mission movements to be seen as more or less than others.

By Harvey Kwiyani

There is a great deal of controversy around the term reverse mission. Some scholars love it. They say it is an easy descriptor for the missionary movement that starts in Africa and ends up in the West. Other scholars find it difficult to justify, saying it has too much colonial and racist connotations. Whatever the case, it is here. It is still in popular use in some academic circles, though it is clearly in decline, having peaked in the years between 2010 and 2015. This decline may reflect a growing awareness of some of its shortcomings.

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