Missiology can be defined as “the science of the cross-cultural communication of the Christian faith.” In the Great Commission, the Lord Jesus told us to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). That command forms the crux of missiology, as it seeks to understand and explain biblical values for evangelism, such as the role of culture in giving the message, both declaring and demonstrating the message of the gospel as it goes “into all the world.”
Three disciplines direct and enable the study of missiology: theology (mainly biblical), anthropology (including primitive religion, linguistics, cultural dynamics, and cultural change), and history. Missiology seeks to intelligently articulate the gospel and its power to change lives in a culturally appropriate context.
Five missiology-related issues that Christians through the centuries have wrestled with in applying and adapting the command to world evangelization are as follows:
• Apostolic practice - How does the church carry on the method of sending out laborers into the harvest field?
• Church structure and mission - How does the church most effectively reproduce itself? What does local church leadership look like in a given region, whether in the United States or in the recessed corners of the world?
• The gospel and other religions - What is the relationship between the good news about Jesus Christ and other religious systems which do not acknowledge His lordship? Is there validity to the religious experience of their devotees, or do they have to give up their religious practices?
• Salvation and non-Christians - Are the heathen really lost? What is their destiny if they have never heard the gospel and die without ever hearing it?
• Christianity and Culture – The same God who provided the gospel for all peoples has also prepared all peoples for the gospel. How does the church present the gospel to those who have never heard it, in such a way that it makes sense, culturally speaking, and answers their primary spiritually related questions?
Missiology seeks to “further the understanding and performance of the Christian mission in our day.” To summarize, missiology is the study of how to best do missions.