Original Research - Special Collection: Graham Duncan Dedication

Polycentrism in the missio Dei

Kirk Franklin, Nelus Niemandt
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 1 | a3145 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i1.3145 | © 2016 Kirk Franklin, Nelus Niemandt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2015 | Published: 31 May 2016

About the author(s)

Kirk Franklin, Science of Religion and Missiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Nelus Niemandt, Science of Religion and Missiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Structures for mission have been under review as a result of many factors. In particular have been the widening influences of globalisation, and to a lesser degree, glocalisation. Various models of leadership praxis and structures have been proposed along the way. As Christianity moved farther away from the Christendom model of centralised control to other models of structure and leadership, other paradigms have been proposed along the way. However, one possibility, called the concept of polycentrism, has not been considered with any significant effort. In order to understand polycentrism, this research covered a literature review of seven spheres: (1) the urbanised-economic context; (2) political-ideological associations; (3) globalglocal socio-cultural situations; (4) organisational-leadership contexts; (5) missional movements; (6) the global church; and (7) the journey of the mission agency called the Wycliffe Global Alliance. The application of the concept of polycentrism to the specific context of the Wycliffe Global Alliance has enabled conclusions about the relevance of polycentrism in mission structures that are part of the missio Dei. The study concluded that polycentrism was a very helpful methodology that understood and resolved the inherent tensions and influences brought about by globalisation upon structures in God’s mission. The implications shaped what leadership communities look like in terms of values and ideals because of the benefits of polycentrism. Through polycentrism, there has been a deliberate movement away from established centres of power, so that leadership occurred among and with others, while creatively learning together in community.

Keywords: Polycentrism, globalisaiton, glocalisation, mission leadership, global church


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