Original Research

Migration crisis and the church: A response to lacunae and considerations for Christian ministry engagement

Christopher Magezi
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1671 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1671 | © 2017 Christopher Magezi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2016 | Published: 31 January 2017

About the author(s)

Christopher Magezi, Department of Theology, North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus, South Africa


This article critically assesses some theological-ecclesiological responses and approaches to migration challenges in order to ascertain lacunae within Christian ministry engagement. Although other academic disciplines such economics, politics, geography, demography, sociology, psychology, law, history, anthropology and environmental studies shape the discourse of migration, theology boarders the migration debate as if it does not have anything to offer. However, this does not necessarily mean there are no existing theological-ecclesiological responses and approaches to migration challenges. Thus, this article proceeds to categorise the theological-ecclesiological responses to migration challenges into four approaches: (1) the approach that focuses on practical responses from pastoral care that is limited to particular social contexts, (2) the approach of theological motif and ministry praxis from narrow and single biblical texts, (3) the response that focuses on Israel as a paradigm of how the native churches and hosting nations should treat migrants and (4) a systematic approach which focuses on doctrinal formulations that respond to migration challenges. In considering these positions but moving beyond them in response to migration challenges, this article exposes a theological debate and agenda for migration ministry. In doing so, this article identifies some lacunae for further exploration in Christian migration ministry engagement. It concludes by underscoring the need for a meaningful and responsive theology that shapes the discourse of migration, as well as the formulation of operative ecclesiological responses. This article thus contends and paves the way for theological research to become central to migration studies in a manner that demonstrates that theology transcends spiritual reflection to include practical psycho-social, emotional, economic and other dimensions. The contribution of this article lies in its examination of the existing theological-ecclesiological responses and approaches to migration challenges and therefore identifying gaps in theology of migration that can be placed in the theological agenda.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article outlines theological research agenda for theology and migration ministry. It considers migration theological gaps from a systematic theological and missiological nexus, and as such it is a theological interdisciplinary article integrating systematic and missions. The article contributes to mapping a theological research agenda for the topical issue of migration and refugees in order to develop and inform church ministry designs.


migration; church; theology of migration; theological-ecclesiological responses; holistic ministries; operative ecclesiology; migration ministries and lacunae


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