Contribution Feature: “Missiology” by Dr. Michael Goheen

Date Published

April 22, 2024

Home / Blog / Contribution Feature: “Missiology” by Dr. Michael Goheen

Published by Calvin Seminary

On April 17, 2024, Calvin Theological Seminary officially announced its partnership with Missional Training Center, located in Phoenix, Arizona. As part of this partnership, we are grateful to learn from the expertise of faculty such as Dr. Michael Goheen, whose study and teaching of missiology serves students at a local and global level. Dr. Goheen recently contributed a chapter on Missiology to the T&T Clark Handbook of Neo-Calvinism (Bloomsbury, 2024). Keep reading to learn more about Dr. Goheen’s education and experience, passion for missiology, contribution to the Handbook of Neo-Calvinism, and desires for the Church in light of this topic. 

Why Missiology?

Dr. Goheen was raised in a context where a contagious passion for evangelism and missions compelled him to share the Gospel with others. After graduating from Westminster Theological Seminary, Dr. Goheen’s career began in pastoral ministry, where he planted a church in the greater Toronto area.

While serving as a pastor, he also taught a university course on missions, drawing upon the work of Harvie Conn and JH Bavinck. A few years after teaching that university course, David Bosch published his ground-breaking book Transforming Mission, inspiring Dr. Goheen to investigate the academic study of missiology and its potential to equip the church vocationally. Almost twenty-five years later, Dr. Goheen’s book Introduction to Christian Mission Today would put this combination of missiology, vocational training, and the neo-Calvinist tradition–inspired by Conn, Bavinck, Bosch and others–into words. 

After this time teaching and pastoring, Dr. Goheen realized his love for teaching, and began his PhD at the University of Utrecht. Early on, he focused on Herman Bavinck and systematic theology, but later switched to missiology, writing his doctoral dissertation on Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiology. The combination of pastoral work and academic training would prove useful to his career over the next few decades, particularly his involvement with Missional Training Center. 

An Introduction to Missional Training Center 

Dr. Goheen spent the early years of his academic career teaching worldview, biblical theology, and missiology at Dordt University, Redeemer University, Trinity Western University, Regent College, and Calvin Seminary. While teaching, he received a phone call from leaders of a large church network in Phoenix (now known as Surge Network), who were intrigued about his approach to missional church. Over the course of many conversations, a program focused on training Phoenix-area ministry leaders was born: Missional Training Center. 

Since its founding in 2013, Missional Training Center has wrestled with how the centrality of mission in Scripture shapes theological education, including the disciplines of biblical studies, systematic theology, church history, and pastoral theology, while always building on past traditions. In a small, cohort-based model taught in a home setting, Missional Training Center students have the ability to know and be known by their peers and faculty, while continuing their respective ministry careers in addition to their education.

The partnership between Calvin Theological Seminary and Missional Training Center is exciting to Dr. Goheen for two key reasons: relationship and theology. Given his teaching history at Calvin Seminary, Dr. Goheen enters this partnership with warm relationships with Seminary President Jul Medenblik, and faculty members Dr. David Rylaarsdam and Dr. Cory Willson. From a theological standpoint, Dr. Goheen is delighted by the neo-Calvinist roots shared by the two institutions, and is grateful to partner with a school that’s closely aligned with Missional Training Center’s theological convictions.

Contributing about Missiology to the T&T Clark Handbook of Neo-Calvinism

Dr. Goheen’s extensive background in missiology from a neo-Calvinist tradition compelled the editors of the Handbook of Neo-CalvinismDr. Nathaniel Gray Sutanto and Cory Brock–to ask him to contribute his reflections on Missiology to the volume. 

In his contribution to the Handbook of Neo-Calvinism, Dr. Goheen’s writing focuses on how the neo-Calvinist tradition influences missiology in five key ways: the importance of the Bible as one story and centered in the Gospel of the kingdom; the breadth of mission in all of life based on a comprehensive Gospel; the relationship between the Christian faith and the religious nature of culture; the importance of bringing the insights of mission to bear on the church in the powerful global culture of the West; and the growing religious pluralism that dominates the world. His contribution draws on his own research work in biblical hermeneutics and mission, the missiology of Western culture, and missional ecclesiology. 

While handbooks like the Handbook of Neo-Calvinism are often tucked away in libraries and faculty bookshelves at seminaries and universities, Dr. Goheen has several hopes for the formation of those who read it, both scholars and laypeople alike. He hopes that readers will understand the breadth of resources for mission and missiology in the neo-Calvinist tradition and even consider an academic career in missiology. He also hopes his contribution will compel readers to reflect on the issues that missiology addresses and why those issues are crucial for the health and advancement of the Gospel today.

The Impact of Missiology in Phoenix and Around the World

Going forward, Dr. Goheen hopes that his contribution to the Handbook of Neo-Calvinism will be academically and missionally formative to readers, both scholars and laypeople. On a research level, he hopes to continue his research on the relationship between missions and systematic theology, with his background in missiology as a framework for these studies. On an academic level, he is excited to see the neo-Calvinist tradition and approach to missiology continue to be shared with cohorts at Missional Training Center and abroad.

Whether from his writing or teaching, Dr. Goheen hopes to leave readers and students with three core takeaways about missiology and the Christian faith:

  • The Christian faith is structured around the narrative of Scripture, telling the story of God’s work to restore the world, ultimately accomplished in Jesus Christ.
  • A missional trajectory is woven throughout Scripture, moving from one family to many families, from one nation to all nations, from one location to the ends of the earth. In that missional trajectory, God’s people have a role in making Him known to all people.
  • The missional vocation of the church should be primary and central–not secondary–to the identity and operation of the church, calling each believer to be faithful to what God has called them to do.

We are grateful for our partnership with Missional Training Center, and look forward to witnessing how God uses the research and teaching work of professors, such as Dr. Goheen, to train and equip church leaders who are mission-minded in all things. To read Dr. Goheen’s chapter on Missiology in the Handbook of Neo-Calvinism, visit the Bloomsbury website, and to learn more about his work and publications, visit his faculty profile!


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