WEA International Director Issues Fresh Call for Authentic Christian Mission at Edinburgh 2010

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Director of the WEA Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe addresses delegates at the
opening celebration of Edinburgh 2010, Thursday June 3, 2010.
(Photo: WCC/Gary Doak)

June 4th, 2010

The International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance has told Christians at the Edinburgh 2010 conference in Edinburgh that an authentic Christian mission in the world today must go hand in hand with witness to Jesus Christ.

Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe issued his call in a seven-minute address delivered during the opening celebration of Edinburgh 2010 on June 3, 2010. The conference has brought together more than 300 Christian leaders from across the traditions and denominations to mark the 100th anniversary of the historic World Missionary Conference held in the Scottish capital in 1910.

Dr Tunnicliffe said: “I hope that in these few days we will not lose sight of the fact that we are celebrating the centenary of a missionary conference. This conference’s theme is ‘Witnessing to Christ today’. We are not talking about some vaguely theistic or humanist agenda, but bearing glad witness to Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity.

This is the Christ to whom the Scriptures bear witness, and central, in person and work to the good news of the gospel. There is no authentic Christian mission that does not bear witness to him in word and deed and character, both individually and corporately.

And there is no authentic church that does not have a passionate commitment to mission, reflecting the heart of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Dr Tunnicliffe reminded Christian leaders that there is no corner of the world today where the mission of the church is complete and that there are many communities and people groups that have still not had anyone to bear witness to Christ among them. Europe in particular, he noted, is in desperate need of re-evangelisation.

He said: “God’s calling to the whole church is to take the whole gospel to the whole world, and that call comes anew to us in every generation. I hope that in these few days we will ponder that, with humility and repentance, and with a renewed commitment to bearing witness to Christ in every corner of the globe.”

Dr Tunnicliffe concluded his address with a reminder that disunity in the church is making it harder for the world to believe in Christ. He appealed to Christians at Edinburgh 2010 to “listen to one another with love and respect, build bridges rather than create chasms, pray together, learn together, and establish new friendships”.

Also representing the WEA at Edinburgh 2010 is the Rev Bertil Ekstrom, Executive Director of the WEA Mission Commission. He spoke on the issue of witnessing to Christ in Latin America in a parallel session on the afternoon of June 3, 2010.

He noted that the failure of Latin American Christians to take a united stand on issues affecting the continent, such as corruption, violence, social injustice and democracy, and the lack of overall unity among the different traditions and denominations is “certainly a hindrance for the greater impact on society and on our governments”.

Mr Ekstrom said: “A question we often raise is how can it be that the Church is so big and our influence on society, including different levels of leadership, media and governments, is so weak? There is certainly an important lack of discipleship and a dichotomy between life in church on Sundays and life in the community during the rest of the week.”

He said, however, that there are signs of improvement in the relations between the various traditions and that they have taken concrete steps towards closer co-operation, one example of this being their recent collaboration for the Fraternity Campaign, which advocated responsible stewardship.

At the 1910 World Missionary Conference, it was suggested that Latin America did not require any further missionary investment - although no Latin American leaders were present at the conference to put forward their opinion. Although Latin America today is home to one of the largest and strongest Christian churches in the world, Mr Ekstrom contends that there are still many people in Latin America who have not yet been reached by the gospel of Jesus Christ, including 200 indigenous tribal groups, immigrants, and a growing secular middle-class.

Mr Ekstrom concluded: “We celebrate the growth of the Christian Church in our continent, not so much in terms of numbers but the increasing desire of seeing the Kingdom of God coming to our countries and the rest of the world, with an impact that has positive consequences on society, transforming individuals and communities.”

To read the speech of Geoff Tunnicliffe in full, visit: