Over There,” George M. Cohan’s rousing World War I anthem, captures much of the Western church’s perception of missions over the last century. The field was abroad. And we, the Christianized West, sent the word—through missionary personnel, resources, programs, and institutions—over there. Nowadays, our “here” increasingly resembles foreign territory, as the Western church finds itself on the social and cultural margins. In Exiles on Mission: How Christians Can Thrive in a Post-Christian World, Paul S. Williams, CEO of the British and Foreign Bible Society, calls us to embrace the opportunities this new position affords. Evangelism as Exiles author Elliot Clark, who works with Training Leaders International, spoke with Williams about serving as God’s ambassadors to our own culture.
You have a unique combination of ministerial and marketplace experience both in the UK and North America. How does that background inform your writing on the challenges facing the Western church today?
In my twenties I was wrestling with how to relate my faith to my work. I had grown up in a Christian family, walked away from the faith, gone to university, and grown very ambitious in a worldly way. Then I had a fairly dramatic encounter with God that brought me back to faith. This was the 1980s, and I was caught up in London’s “Big Bang,” a time of massive growth in finance and investment banking. Huge sums of money were being thrown at young graduates like me. Money and power were the worlds in which I’d been formed to succeed through my education.
I knew, as I returned to faith, that if Christianity meant anything at all, it meant the lordship of Christ over all of life, economic ...1
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