In this missiological, creative, and contextual case study, the use of the slogan or watchword, ‘the evangelization of the world in this generation’ is problematic and a new slogan is sought. The main concern is the God-image developed upon a vanquishing Christ ‘bent on conquest’. The slogan propelled a rapid growing denomination (1979–2003); the International Church of Christ (ICOC) is depicted in the study as an expanding global train, followed by a trainwreck. The inner workings and consequent collapse of a USA-born and funded Christian denomination, termed a religious branded organisation (RBO), and the effects on a satellite congregation, ICI Colombia, are explored. The primary focus is the subsequent regrouping of the congregation as a gathered community (2004– 2021).
The concern around the concept of this slogan has been addressed within missiology from different denominational perspectives for over a century, such potential ethical considerations considering the need for self-imposed limitations when furthering the message of Christ from Global North to Global South. The study views these from a triad thrust of expansion: main message or interpretation of biblical text; decision making over funds/resources; and use of structure—including legal and media (propaganda). The study is grounded in a triad of conversation partners (David Bosch, Ivan Illich, and Roland Allen) for a view from the inside, by an insider/outsider creative researcher. The researcher sought a radical shift in her positionality within the congregation due to the lessons of the collapse. Creativity is applied in various manners such as the development of data visualisation through constant images (i.e., train, trainwreck) and four vignettes. A maternal-thinking perspective, based on personal life experience and a Colombian matricentric society, is used throughout. This thinking-with-the-womb allows for a view of reality with an understanding of an interconnectedness of the universe.
The findings of the study, which focused primarily on grassroots participants using semi-structured, in-depth interviews, reveal the shifts of self-understandings and practices of mutuality that have shaped the mission and ministry of the congregation since the forementioned trainwreck. After collecting the empirical and interpretive data, these results are conspicuously observed: Resilient spirituality and togetherness or conviviality. A new slogan is developed, an expressive poem inspired by the compiled data. It is an alternative application of a God-image inspired by Illich’s account of the boundary-crossing Samaritan parable, and Bosch, Illich, and Allen’s view of Luke´s mission theology of table-fellowship. The findings primarily fit into theology of mission, a sub-discipline of missiology, as aqueous challenges to mission effort we contend will offer test grounds for developing a contextualised transforming mutuality as a theology of mission. The applicability could be broader: spirituality, managerial missiology, World Christianity, and Mother Studies.