One World, One Mission… is not enough

With its theme of ‘One World, One Mission’ the recent 2010 British Baptist Assembly offered vibrant and truly inspiring moments in the main venue, Prism venue, and seminar venues. I hope regular readers will forgive my referring to my own church family but I think that our own short-sightedness and amnesia are shared by other church and Christian traditions in terms of our commitment to mission in Europe.

One glaring omission seems to have bypassed the Assembly programme committee and it points to a serious malaise that is characteristic of too many Christian communities, confessions, and denominations in Europe. Why was there no reference, given the theme, to either of the two major World mission conferences about to take place in 2010? The Lausanne III event in Cape Town will even offer a chance for revisiting the theme of ‘The whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world’. There’s more than a little overlap with the Assembly theme: yet there was a complete absence of discussion of either Cape Town or of the Edinburgh 2010 conference taking place in a little over four weeks.

All the more amazing that both events will commemorate the 1910 World Mission Conference, a conference for which William Carey had fervently dreamed of nearly a century earlier and – oh yes – Carey founded the Baptist Missionary Society! It was the Edinburgh 1910 Conference that launched the contemporary ecumenical movement and which continues to inspire the evangelical Lausanne movement.

British Baptists will be present at both the Edinburgh 2010 and the Cape Town 2010 Conferences and the lack of mention, presentation, discussion, or debate at the annual Assembly leaves them ill-prepared to adequately represent the views of Baptists at either of the Mission Conferences. The omission represents a missed opportunity and has, I fear, not served well our sisters and brothers who will speak as Baptists in either place.

It’s also disappointing because the theme of ‘One World, One Mission’ can only take us so far. It is vital that British Baptists consider the part they play in taking the whole gospel to the whole world alongside other labourers in the harvest. These may be Baptists from other countries (and BMS World Mission reflects this reality well) but they will also be Christians from other parts of the worldwide church. There is a worldwide church but Baptists are not it, merely an essential part of it. If we truly proclaim one mission then we have to take this reality utterly seriously.

Oh yes, and if you’re not Baptist, try inserting your denominational name into the appropriate gaps. I suspect that too many denominations are still struggling to come to terms with the nature of contemporary mission in Europe – that it is from everywhere to everywhere and gloriously diverse.

One world, one mission, one church under Christ.

Explore posts in the same categories: Edinburgh 2010, europe, Gospel, Lausanne, mission

One Comment on “One World, One Mission… is not enough”

  1. Nigel Coles, Regional Minister for the West of England Baptist Association, picked up on my comments on the floor of the Baptist Assembly and which form the basis of this blog. You can see the rest of his blog at

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