#1: Mission as the Spirit’s presence, not our project #TaylorTuesdays

Each Tuesday over the next couple of months, we’ll be posting a quote from John V. Taylor with some thoughts and questions for reflection. John (or J.V.) Taylor (1914 – 2001) was the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and Bishop of Winchester, and wrote several seminal books on theology of mission, including The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission and The Primal Vision: Christian Presence Amid African Religion.


The chief actor in the historic mission of the Christian church is the Holy Spirit. He is the director of the whole enterprise. The mission consists of the things he is doing in the world…

This fact, so patent to Christians in the first century, is largely forgotten in our own. So we have lost our nerve and our sense of direction and have turned the divine initiative into a human enterprise. ‘It all depends on me’ is an attitude that is bedevilling both the practice and the theology of our mission in these days…

The very mandate to engage in this world-wide mission could only be given simultaneously with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Go-Between God, pp.3-4

Have we turned God’s Mission into Our Project?

J.V. Taylor is generally credited with the idea that, at its simplest, mission is ‘finding what God is doing and joining in’. This comes from his strongly held conviction that mission is primarily something that the Holy Spirit does and is doing in the world, and not something which we do ourselves on our own.

Put simply, for Taylor mission is about presence and not projects.

He suggests that if followers of Jesus were to really get hold of what mission is about, they would let go of control and allow themselves to simply follow what the Spirit is already doing in God’s world.

Some questions to ponder:

  • Is your approach to mission about building projects, or about recognising the Holy Spirit’s presence?
  • Do you occasionally need reminding that ‘it doesn’t all depend on you’?
  • How might the Holy Spirit be already at work in your context in ways you haven’t even noticed?


What do you think? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

About the author: James Henley
James Henley
James has been with The Lab since 2007 and leads our team. He's an ordained pioneer minister in the Church in Wales.