“Millennials and The Mission of God”: An Eastern Effort

       Dr. Andrew Bush, chair of the Mission and Anthropology department, and Carolyn Wason, Eastern University graduate class of 2015, recently completed a book that will be published in October 2017, titled “Millennials and the Mission of God: A Prophetic Dialogue.” They began this project in October 2014, when Dr. Bush invited Wason to coauthor a paper with him about problems in Christian missions. Wason transferred to Eastern as a junior, and had only studied anthropology at her previous school. “When I started [at Eastern], I didn’t actually have any intention of taking classes in missions,” Wason explains. “I was here for the anthropology, and you got both.”

        Dr. Bush, on the other hand, was well-experienced in missions, having been a missionary himself. “I was a missionary for 11 years in the Philippines,” Dr. Bush shares, “and then after that, we lived and worked in the Palastinian territories on the West Bank… adjacent to Israel.” He is still very active in that area, and he spends most school breaks overseas.

       Dr. Bush and Wason collaborated on the paper, bringing together their different experiences and thoughts about missions to create a coherent and thought-provoking dialogue about Christian missions. After finishing the paper, Dr. Bush and Wason went on to present their work at a conference hosted by the Evangelical Missiological Society in New York. The paper was well-received at the conference, since it was one of the only papers that addressed a millennial viewpoint on missions.

      As a millennial, Wason focuses on  newer qualms with missions.

      She wrestles with issues of privilege and culture, and asks if Christians can share the gospel without forcing Western culture on other peoples. Dr. Bush, however, takes a more traditional stance on the value of Christian missions.

       After realizing the depth of interest on this topic, Dr. Bush and Wason decided to continue writing about millennials and missions, eventually turning their paper into a book. The book is structured as a conversation between Dr. Bush and Wason, who represent two generations of Christians with conflicting ideas and opinions about the validity of Christian missions. They explained they had a “critical reader,” Dr. Betsey Morgan, who previously worked in Eastern’s English department, who helped them learn how to listen to each other, since they were both coming at Christian missions from very different angles.

       Dr. Eloise Meneses, the director of the culture and anthropology program at Eastern, wrote the introduction to the book as well. Dr. Bush explains, “There’s a real sense that this is an Eastern effort. This is really coming out of the missiology and anthropology program.”

      Dr. Bush goes on to describe the structure of the book, stating that it “isn’t written as a textbook, but as a conversation.” Wason adds that this was a challenge at the beginning. Having a generous, charitable conversation is hard. “I think, as we got further and further along,” Wason shares, “…[the book] becomes more about how to listen to people you don’t agree with.”

      Wason and Dr. Bush describe the challenges of having a charitable conversation that others will read. “We’re not just talking to each other,” Wason says. “It needs to make sense to [the readers], and be graceful and kind.” Dr. Bush and Wason expressed their desire for others to continue the conversation they have started. “We’re just two voices out of two very large generations,” Wason expresses. “From my perspective, a lot of the purpose of the book is to start a conversation… Us taking the microphone is really just so we can hand it to other people, to use it to start a discussion with someone else.”

      “Millennials and the Mission of God: A Prophetic Dialogue” is published by Wipf and Stock Publishers and is available for purchase at wipfandstock.com.

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