Pictured L-R: St. John’s (London) Baptist Church Steel Orchestra during the School of Evangelism Opening Celebration
As cultural and technological trends shifted at the turn of the century, the Baptist World Alliance convened the “Summit on Baptist Mission in the 21st Century” in Swanwick, England, in 2003. The BWA Declaration on Mission was borne from this five-day event, calling Baptists to a renewed commitment to win the world for Jesus Christ and work in partnership with mission groups around the world.
From that moment, the global Baptist family saw spectacular growth of the Church in Asia, Africa, and Latin America yet also bore witness to the emerging challenge of a post-Christian culture in large parts of Europe and North America. BWA statistics for the last decade bear testimony to the emerging trends. Membership in Asia Pacific grew by 20%, the Caribbean by 48%, and Latin America by 41%. However, membership in Europe and the Middle East declined by 3% and North America by 6%. Of note, a staggering 90% of those living in the 10/40 window – a geographic area stretching across 68 countries from North Africa through the Middle East to Asia – have never heard the Gospel.
“From Genesis to Revelation, God invites us to join him in his holistic mission around the world. We are invited to live with Gospel intentionality from our neighborhoods to the nations,” said Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary & CEO. “In a world where there are still three billion people who are unreached with the good news of Jesus Christ, I encourage all Baptists to join us in a global commitment to Gospel witness.”
Compelled by the unchanging Great Commission, the Baptist World Alliance has a longstanding commitment to evangelism, rooted in the call to live out Gospel witness in every place and among all people groups in partnership with other believers.
In response to this call and in collaboration with the global GO Movement (gomovement.world), the BWA Executive Committee declared the month of May as Evangelism Emphasis Month, guided by the axiom that “every Baptist is a witness.” Throughout the month, Baptists worldwide were urged to focus on united prayer and personal evangelism with a prayer for every Baptist to lead at least one person to Christ.
“The call for increased evangelization is as urgent today as when Jesus issued the Great Commission to his disciples and – by extension – the church,” said Everton Jackson, Director of Integral Mission. “Evangelism is central to the mission of God, and it is the vocation of the Church to share the good news of Christ for the sake of the salvation of the world and the renewal of creation.”
As part of the strategic evangelism focus, the BWA launched its inaugural School of Evangelism (SOE) from April 29-May 1 in partnership with Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Offered virtually and guided by the theme “Making Disciples Together,” the initiative will be rolled out in the other five BWA regions of the BWA by 2024. SOE objectives include:
- Affirm the whole Church’s calling and gifting to bear witness to Jesus Christ.
- Emphasize the whole Gospel of Christ as the power to transform lives and communities.
- Highlight the whole world as the object of the triune God’s redemptive mission.
- Create space for Baptists to learn from one another and to mobilize the global Baptist family for greater intentional holistic evangelism.