It’s been a fascinating few days at the BMS “How to mission” event; designed to help folk in the UK to listen to voices from the world church and consider what lessons can be learned for mission here in the UK
Some of sessions covered ideas familiar to readers of this blog but there is something powerful about hearing people from different parts of the world speak of their own experience and reflection.
For example, Prabhu Singh used his sessions to explore 5 contemporary themes from his particular Indian perspective:
- We live in an era of glocal connectivity
- We live in an era of heightened cultural sensitivity (desire to get back to our roots / protect our heritage)
- We live in an era of exciting gospel receptivity with people groups coming to Christ.
- There is an alarming rise of religious animosity
- There is widening economic disparity.
However, his own experience as a college principal in India, of churches affected by the unrest in Orissa a few years ago and of the ongoing challenges takes these themes and gives them a real practical edge.
So what did I get from this? I was particularly struck by Elie Haddad sharing lessons in leadership from his context in Lebanon; of how the church is moving from a place of retreat to prophetic engagement in wider society, prompted largely through their response to the influx of refugees. Of the need for leaders to have a theology of the cross and of suffering rather than of prosperity: his throw away comment was that ‘if it is not dangerous it’s probably not God’
One of the discussion themes that emerged was the question of whether we preach Christianity or Christ. I blogged about Paul Pennington’s book before but questions of what it means to follow Jesus in a culture where people are put off by traditional expressions of Christianity is worth pondering.
Overall a great event and well done to BMS for taking the risk and putting this on. I’ve no idea if they will repeat it but I’m convinced that we need to create opportunities for Church Leaders in the UK to hear, interact and learn from leaders from the world church in order to think about how we witness in our own changing cultural context.