The Baptist World Alliance launched the Global Baptist Mission Network during its annual meeting in Stavanger, Norway, on July 2-5.
This year’s theme was “A Global Family on Mission,” and more than 500 Baptists from 82 countries met for worship and to discuss their shared work and witness as well as share in plenaries, Bible studies and regional ministry updates. The annual meeting, coupled with the European Baptist Federation’s SENT Global Mission Summit, was full of activity.
Mona Khauli received the 2023 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award for more than 60 years of human rights advocacy. Attendees were also treated to a thoughtful discussion followed by a Q & A with Croatian Protestant theologian Miroslav Volf.
Volf’s description of Jesus as “a moral stranger” because “what matters to Jesus doesn’t matter to us and what matters to us doesn’t matter to Jesus” prompted more questions and even a call for examples.
Volf’s first example was money and then Jesus’ appearance. Focused on reputational and aesthetic capital, “we are people who have become obsessed with the means of life — but never living,” he said.
To be clear, “Christianity functions as a means,” according to Volf.
Critical of the near-obsessive discussion of means rather than the end, Volf used the example of one who pursues paint and tools but never paints. “We have become experts in means but amateurs in purpose,” he told the audience.
Wheels were turning as participants reflected on time spent on Point A rather than moving to Point B. “What’s the Point B that’s worth getting to?” Volf asked. Class was in session, and the audience turned students leaned in.
“Take what moves people and shed the light of the gospel on it,” Volf said. Either effortlessly or due to decades of teaching experience, he moved them from Point A to point B.
It was clear from the start that the mission was to ensure the gospel of Jesus was moving throughout the world. The meeting was Point A.
“We are a missionary people, the good news from everyone to everywhere” was repeatedly expressed to attendees by Elijah Brown, General Secretary and CEO of the Baptist World Alliance.
It’s part of the Global Baptist Mission Network’s vision “to see the good news of Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated across the globe — from everyone to everywhere,” he said, asking attendees to step away from old paradigms and “join together in Holy Spirit creativity.”
Brown enthusiastically shared that the Global Baptist Mission Network would begin with representation from all six BWA regions, 23 inaugural member-mission organizations from 17 countries and more than 7,000 missionaries.
It aims to support projects that are “missionally and culturally relevant, financially stable, impacting and collaborating,” according to the brochure given to participants. Connecting mission-focused organizations and leaders, “this the largest Baptist mission network in the world and the most diverse,” he said.
A global mapping project, “the future of world evangelization requires new missiological collaboration,” Brown said. The focus is networking and collaboration between mission organizations and enterprises to encourage more effective and efficient ways to evangelize unreached populations through proven “activities.”
It is a part of BWA’s mission statement: “networking the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ.” Likewise, it is not a new endeavor but rather a renewed emphasis. During the Baptist World Congress held in Seoul, South Korea, in 1990, the Seoul Covenant was adopted and reaffirmed their commitment to evangelism.
With 253 Baptist conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories, the Baptist World Alliance has reached 66% of the world. With the launch of this new multi-centered and multilingual network, it seems that the group is looking to move to Point B.