The Meeting of the Waters: 7 Global Currents that Will Propel the Future Church

by Fritz Kling

The Meeting of the Waters is not your usual “mission textbook,” but it is the kind of trends analysis that is indispensable for anticipating future church and mission.

 David C. Cook, 4050 Lee Vance Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, 2010, 256 pages, $16.99.

Reviewed by Grant McClung, president,; missiological advisor, World Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.

A few years ago Gary Corwin (Evangelical Missions Quarterly) provided the Great Commission community with an excellent model for interaction between the various leaders and respresentatives of  (1) the assembly (local church pastors/mission leaders), (2) the agency (parachurch mission agencies and denominational mission departments, and (3) the academy (mission training systems and missiologists). Recently, Monroe Brewer (CrossGlobal Link) added a fourth: (4) the agora, lay mission activists in the marketplace. All four conversation partners are needed in “mission quadralogue.”

Here is one of those books that fits perfectly as a strategizing resource with all four entities. In fact, one could envision a weekend retreat or special consultation where mission leaders from the assembly, the agency, the academy, and the agora could be called together after pre-reading this innovative contribution from Fritz Kling.

Kling, who would best represent the agora category, is a foundation executive who distilled the lessons learned from multiplied on-site visits around the world into a provocative and visionary discussion of seven global currents flowing into the wide river of the world mission enterprise. The insights are not concocted in a think-tank or ivory tower, but gathered in scores of conversations in dozens of places around the world. They represent the descriptions and prescriptions of a good listener who also communicates with clarity for the sake of the wider community. We are indebted to him for this gift.

Kling’s observations are organized around seven “Ms,” each representing broader trends and current developments that are moving the church and mission into the future: (1) mercy—concerns for social activism and justice; (2) mutuality—partnership vs. paternalism in the global Christian community; (3) migration—the international challenge of populations on the move; (4) monoculture—globalization and the homogenization of a shared world culture; (5) machines—how technology and scientific research are assisting world evangelization; (6) mediation—the Church’s role in peacemaking in a world of polarization; and (7) memory—speaking with relevance into current realities by remembering the unique “back stories” (historical events and circumstances) of peoples and nations.

All of the seven global currents are set in the context of a backward look to the past and a forward-looking preview of the future with the assistance of two fictional caricatures: “Mission Marm” and “Apple Guy” (descriptions are reserved for surprise for the reader, but well worth checking!). Very helpful at the end of each of the seven “M” sections is a listing of organizations that are actualizing the descriptions/prescriptions of each section. These provide the reader with excellent connectivity points for additional networking, involvement, and research.

The Meeting of the Waters is not your usual “mission textbook,” but it is the kind of trends analysis that is indispensable for anticipating future church and mission. It comes from a well-traveled and well-read global listener and is a resource that should not be overlooked by conversation partners in the “mission quadralogue.” Most “mission trends” books come from the agency or academy, with occasional contributions from the assembly. This voice from the agora may be indicative of a new genre of mission literature to come.  

Check these titles:

Adeney, Miriam. 2009. Kingdom without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press.

Guthrie, Stan. 2000. Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century. Waynesboro, Ga.: Paternoster Press.

Pocock, Michael, Gailyn Van Rheenen, and Douglas McConnell, eds. 2005. The Changing Face of World Missions: Engaging Contemporary Issues and Trends. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

Walls, Andrew F. and Cathy Ross, eds. 2008. Mission in The Twenty-First Century: Exploring the Five Marks of Global Mission. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.  


EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 4, pp. 508-509. Copyright  © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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