This thesis deals with the complex question of how global Christian mission
organizations must learn to function, especially the Wycliffe Global Alliance (WGA). I
summarize how the Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) began in 1942 as the
resourcing organization for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now called SIL
International) and how their mutual founder, American William Cameron Townsend,
was influenced by Western mission strategy and conservative evangelical theology.
The changing global context is impacting how the missio Dei takes place and this is
influencing how mission agencies interact with each other and the church worldwide.
This is leading to new paradigms of how mission is conceptualized around the world.
The thesis outlines how the changing global context has forced Wycliffe to reevaluate
its place in the world because, half a century after its formation, the church
has new homes in the global South and East. It follows that as a Western mission,
Western resources have decreased and this has shaped how Wycliffe Bible
Translators (International) has now become Wycliffe Global Alliance (WGA).
However, this goes beyond a mere change of name and has resulted in a type of
structure that enables it to better engage with the church worldwide.
The thesis also examines the complexity of contextualization in the global
environment, noting how different languages and cultures are involved, each with its
own rules and subtleties. I show how the shift of the centre of gravity of the church to
the global South and East presents new theological challenges for the Bible
translation effort and these directly impact WGA.
There are many missiological implications for WGA that come from influences in
church history regarding the importance of language, the translatability of the gospel,
the history of Bible translation and how missional reflection is necessary in various
situations. These merge together to provide new implications which are influenced
by globalization for mission agencies such as WGA.
The thesis also emphasises that WGA is a global mission movement, so I have
identified methods of leadership development and structure, all of which are critical
to WGA’s effectiveness and involvement in the missio Dei. I show that forming global
mission leaders is unique and complex, and how the leaders must embrace a wide
variety of qualities, skills and capabilities, especially in responding to greater cultural
diversity. Since most leadership principles are culturally bound, this creates
obstacles in cross-cultural situations. Therefore, I emphasize that a successful
multicultural organization like WGA must learn to focus on both worldwide and local
The thesis outlines how theological, missiological, cultural, contextual and leadership
values converge and therefore reshape a mission movement like WGA. My
conclusion is that none of these influences can be ignored – all are relevant. Each
must be reflected upon in order to provide directions for WGA as it seeks to be
faithful to its vision and serve the global church.
Dissertation (MA Theol)--University of Pretoria, 2012.