Can refugees win the West?
Are expatriate churches reaching wider UK culture?
How might they engage in cross-cultural mission?
What challenges can they expect?
Based on ground-breaking research
‘An invaluable tool.’
Rev Dr Martin Robinson, Principal of ForMission College
It is now recognised that mission is no longer from the West to the rest but is from anywhere to everywhere. But what does that mean in practice? In an article last year, Christian Today reported that black African majority churches are growing rapidly in the UK while white majority churches continue to decline. In the article it was noted that there is a ‘greater concentration of African Christianity in south London than anywhere in the world outside Africa.’
While church growth of any kind is good news, not all expatriate churches seek to reach out to the diverse population around them, including the host culture. The emphasis is frequently on preserving their own culture and ways of doing church. As Hirpo Kumbi, an experienced Ethiopian church-planter and cross-cultural missionary in the UK, says, ‘In the Ethiopian/Eritrean congregations there is a passion for ministry without great understanding of the priority of mission – the prime reason for any church’s existence, whatever its cultural background.’
So how can immigrant and refugee churches move from cultural preservation to cross-cultural mission? If they were to embark on such a task, what obstacles might they encounter and what measure of success could they expect?
In Mission and Movement, Hirpo Kumbi charts the history of the Ethiopian and Eritrean church in the UK. He shows how expatriate churches can leave their comfort zone and engage in cross-cultural mission.
Hirpo says there are small ripples of change taking place but they ‘are straws in the wind. What we need,’ he adds, ‘is a full-blown gale of change and it is my hope that this book will at least be a starting point, a catalyst for revolutionary adjustment.’
In his foreword, Dr Richard Whitehouse, writer and lecturer at ForMission College, says, ‘Kumbi asks some difficult questions as he explores these issues through field work and in-depth interviews that throw up some puzzlement and uncertainty on the part of some Ethiopian church leaders. The sheer variety and forms of diaspora church plants – Brazilian, Colombian, South African, Korean, Asian, Iranian and Chinese to name but a few – suggest that more concentrated studies like this one will enhance our understanding of multicultural missional movements and enhance our ability to “win the West” for Christ.’
Based on Hirpo’s MA thesis, this is an informative work which examines the complex questions of identity, intergenerational tensions and practical obstacles that must be faced. The success of the church in twenty-first-century Britain will depend upon non-indigenous congregations successfully adapting to reach wider British culture, and Mission and Movement will help make this become a reality. The invaluable insights into issues faced by any immigrant and refugee congregation make it essential reading for all leaders involved in cross-cultural mission.
What reviewers say:
‘Mission from “the rest” to “the West” is one of the major features of church life in Europe today. The issues that such mission raises are many and complex. Hirpo Kumbi’s practical experience and well-researched reflection makes this work an invaluable tool in this vital area of mission practice.’
Rev Dr Martin Robinson, Principal of ForMission College; author
Mission and Movement (ISBN: 9781909728899) by Hirpo Kumbi is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 21 September 2018 from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online retailers. Non-fiction, paperback, 176pp, £8.99.