Last July the Association strategy, built on the four pillars of Unity, Mission, Leadership and International Focus, was launched at the annual London Event which was held in Regents Hall. We had the privilege of the then Baptist Union General Secretary Elect, Revd Lynn Green deliver the keynote address. One of the things Revd Green spoke about was looking to London as an example of pioneers within the Baptist Union of multicultural missional communities. Whether Lynn intended to or not in that one statement she twinned together two pillars of our strategy: Unity and Mission.
Earlier this year I was privileged to speak at two services celebrating the week of Christian Unity. I was privileged to meet with Christians from other traditions and to share fellowship with them. However, two things immediately struck me. Firstly, the conspicuous absence of Christians from the majority world and independent church traditions. Secondly, the ‘niceness’ that undergirded the manner in which individuals interacted with one another and that ultimately betrayed a lack of depth in relationships. Even when there was what one might refer to as substance it appears to be more about a few individuals that had ‘struck a chord’ with each other than congregations or denominations recognising their need of one another in the enterprise of the gospel.
I have become convinced that it is nearly impossible to do anything substantial in London in isolation. The city is so diverse that we need the many sided wisdom (Ephesians 3:10) of Christians from all over the world to ‘shine their light of the knowledge of the glory of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:6) into the diverse cultural groups that make up diversity of the capital city. They may not be present in our church but plentiful in the church next door, along the road or that meets in our building in the afternoon. Building relationships with them, not to be ‘nice’, but to increase our capacity to reach the lost may be what God is calling us to do despite our reticence to do so and impulses to the contrary. I believe that God has ‘many people in this city’ (Acts 18:10) and we may only be able to meet some through the partnerships in the gospel we develop with others. Are you willing to develop such partnerships? I pray that God gives you and I the grace to know where those partnerships are and how to build them for His glory. Amen