Seeing a group of American preachers trying to decipher the London “tube” (subway) system, and helping a pastor translate “prawn” from the restaurant menu (we call them shrimp) were just two of the reminders that Americans and British are two peoples divided by a common language.
The International Congress on Preaching was held this spring at London’s historic Westminster Chapel. (But then, what isn’t historic in London? OK, the Hard Rock Cafe doesn’t qualify, though they do seem to have the most popular t-shirts in Great Britain.) Some of the world’s great Christian communicators were on hand for a tremendous program that emphasized our mutual call to proclaim the Word of God. For me, having the opportunity to meet and hear preachers like John Stott made the trip a memorable ministry moment. (The article in this issue by George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, was the keynote address for the Congress.)
One of the other highlights of the Congress was the opportunity to see preachers from many nations all gathered together in one place to celebrate preaching. They came from Brazil and Belgium, from North America and Asia and Europe. It was a vivid reminder of the truth of the hymn:
“In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no north or south,
But one great fellowship divine
Around the whole wide world.”
As we enter the twenty-first century and the third millenium of the church’s life and work, it is more important than ever that we recognize Christ’s body extends beyond any boundaries of nationality or denomination, beyond race and geography.
For those of us who live in the industrialized western nations of North America and Europe, we are about to recognize a startling new reality in the coming century: we who have been the missionary “sending” nations may soon become the “receiving” nations, as the axis of Christian ministry and missions moves to the nations of Asia, South America and Africa where the church is exploding in growth, at the same time the western church is plateaued or even declining in many areas.
As church leaders, we can ignore that reality, or we can choose to be partners with God’s activity in these emerging areas. We who have been “in charge” of the missionary enterprise can respond with resentment and obstruction, or with celebration and cooperation.
What a wonderful thing it will be if we western Christians will reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ with encouragement and financial support as they assume a new role of missionary leadership. Are we willing to give generously and faithfully if it isn’t “our people” who are carrying the gospel to distant lands? And how will we respond when those “foreign mission” fields turn out to be New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago?
May God help us to join hands and hearts with our Christian brothers and sisters around the globe, as together we “hold high the Word” into a new century, claiming the world for Christ.
(By the way, if you missed the London Congress, then plan to be part of the National Conference on Preaching in Dallas, Texas, February 24-26, 1998. You’ll enjoy a wonderful opportunity to worship and fellowship with fellow ministers from around the United States as well as several other nations. Mark your calendar and plan to be with us!)

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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