European Baptists call all Christians to Focus on Mission & Evangelism

The President of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), Billy Taranger has called on all Baptists to focus on mission and evangelism, and not leave just pastors and trained missionaries to spread the word of the gospel.

Taranger, a Norwegian theologian was speaking at two conferences in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. He spoke about how the world population of Christians was decreasing; he pointed out that in 1900 Christians made up 37.5% of the world’s people, yet by the year 2000 this percentage had decreased to 33.1%.

As a response to these statistics the EBF President made a rallying call to Christians to focus more strongly on the priesthood of all believers, and that every church member had to be taught how to speak about the Christian faith.

"Normal Christians" were the people, said Taranger, who could ensure that the two-thirds of the world’s population could hear and know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The second lecture stressed on setting up a more goal orientated mission, but at the same time ensuring that these targets remained realistic and verifiable. Taranger spoke about how this was especially vital for those working towards God’s Kingdom, and he said that missionaries must always be asking which ethnic groups are open to the Gospel, and that all age groups had to evangelise.

The conferences were arranged by the Baptist Union of Moldova, which has a powerful standing in Europe, consisting of 21,000 members and 390 congregations. The first conference was held on the topic of Home Mission for EBF-member churches, and the second for native and non-foreign missionaries financially supported by the EBF.

Otniel Bunaciu, a Baptist pastor and a Dean of the Baptist Theological Faculty at Bucharest State University called for a new modern way of teaching on mission. He pointed out that some Western mission societies remained too old-fashioned and were still classifying the formerly communist world as "unreached", which was simply no longer true.

Bunaciu pointed out that Christian congregations were now set up almost everywhere and were now beginning to play important roles in missions. He also emphasises that it was more appropriate to train these native Christians to be missionaries rather than to simply send foreigners.

Church work also should be into the national culture, said Bunaciu, and he told how separation just for the sake of separation was wrong; this, he told, had previously led to church divisions.

The Director of the EBF’s "Indigenous Missionary Project" (IMP), Daniel Trusiewicz of Poland described a vision for modern mission. He told how the goal should be that newly-founded congregations should become self-supporting and self-administering after five years of support from EBF. Then in turn, these congregations should go out and form other new congregations in the same way, and in this way the word of God would spread to unimaginable levels.

The EBF currently is supporting 39 missionaries in 16 countries of the former Eastern and Middle-East bloc through its IMP-programme.

Trusiewicz pointed out that the Moldovan Baptists have stated their intention to found a strong congregation in every single city and village in their country, and used as an example that one EFB-funded missionary formed a congregation and in turn it has already founded two further congregations. Using this as an inspiration the IMP Director urged other missionaries to follow this and to write a beautiful history of mission.