Rev Andrew Palmer, Team Leader 

In English, the words ‘content’ (as a noun) and ‘context’ only differ by one letter but are entirely different in meaning. ‘Content’ speaks to the depth of an idea or subject contained in communication, whereas ‘context’ speaks to the situation within which something happens or exists. They are different – and complementary.  

The content of the gospel: God’s graciousness is extended to creation through the person and work of Jesus meets the context of mission: the space that this message is declared in word and deed.  

In this relationship, content is unchanging, and context is forever evolving. Context demands we find new ways of telling old truths in order that the heart of the matter may be understood. The technical term for this is contextualisation.  

2020 was dominated by COVID-19. It changed the way we met. It changed where we could (and could not) travel. It changed the manner in which we greeted one another. It changed the models we utilised in global mission.  

But it was not content. It was context. And when we confuse them we can get worried about issues of faithfulness. 

Think of it like this: context is like a solid container. It has a certain shape. The gospel is like a liquid. When water is poured into a vase, it takes the shape of that vase without any change in its composition. It remains water, just in a different shape. 

COVID-19 provided a shape that has forced us to think critically about how we speak about Jesus, how we live as Christian community and how we posture toward the world.  

Newsletters from staff around the world speak of greater opportunities to share the love of Christ as people encounter the deep anxiety of a global pandemic. 

Here in Australia, we also continue to think carefully about how we might best utilise this new context meaningfully and effectively in intercultural mission. What new lessons could we learn together, across a wide variety of cultures and traditions as we share our gleanings of ministry in the age of COVID-19? 

The Global Mission Team exists to help local Baptist Churches do this well, alongside other members of the Gen1K Mission Team and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve our Churches in this way. 

*For more detailed intercultural ministry matters, please see Global Interaction Australia Report.