Archive for the ‘Lausanne’ category

Edinburgh 2010: Continuing before beginning

June 2, 2010

The legacy of Edinburgh 1910 was, among other things, the establishment of a continuation committee. Out of its activity sprang, as just one example, the International Review of Mission, still widely read and consulted today by students of mission. Informal conversations with delegates here have already raised the question of ‘What next?’ It might seem a bit premature to be thinking about this even before registrations for the 2010 conference have opened, but it seems that the mood may well turn towards the best way of dealing with the differences that still exist among delegates and the Christian traditions they represent.

I suspect that Edinburgh 2010 will be far from the mythical ‘cosy ecumenism’ that critics like to believe exists. I hope we will allow our differences to show, will acknowledge them with honesty, and pray for a future together that will not allow simplistic harmonising ‘Statements’ to obscure the important and necessary work of  developing ways of living and witnessing together that are faithful to Christ and his church.

Within Europe it is possible to point to many ways in which joint witness has enriched the witnesses and equally many areas in which co-operation in mission has struggled to produce any meaningful fruit. Speakers and delegates here in Edinburgh are likely to reflect together on what we can learn from both success and failure. If Europeans are to be more effectively ‘introduced to Christ’ in a non-partisan or non-nationalistic fashion,  ‘introduced to our Christ’, then churches are going to have to begin the painful task of finding ways of co-operating in mission.

What has to live beyond June 6th 2010? In reality I’m not sure, but the mission legacy of Edinburgh 1910 deserves more respect than the prospect of multiple celebrations, even more than the current two or three main alternatives, in the year 2110. Many delegates here in Edinburgh will be making the journey to Cape Town later in the year for the Lausanne meetings. At the very least it ought to be possible for national European reviews following both events to be joint reviews, drawing on delegates who have attended both events. That may not quite be a strategy for a continuation committee, but it would be a good way to start.

One World, One Mission… is not enough

May 4, 2010

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.