This is a rough sketch of the history of missiology in the 20th century and how the conversation has evolved in the West. This is strictly a Roman Catholic and Western Protestant conversation. It leaves out the Eastern Church and the global movement of Pentecostalism, not to mention the entire church of the Global South.
Missiology has evolved through three basic forms in this time period:
1. Theology for Missions. This comes from two hundred years of European colonialism and Christendom. The church was thought to be a location to which people were to be brought, and a cultural norm to which people were to be converted. The church existed primarily for the perpetuation of God’s People, and secondarily for the sending of missionaries to bring the Gospel to the heathen in the dark places of the world. The first meeting of the International Missionary Council sparked conversations about the theological and biblical basis for missions. Several books were written tracing the story of the Biblical narrative, demonstrating that God is a missionary God and has called, first Israel, and then the Church to go into all the world and preach the good news of repentance and salvation.