British pastor calls the church to be on mission - Word&Way

British pastor calls the church to be on mission

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — At his conversion, Malcolm Duncan believes he was given an “innate” sense that the gospel must permeate all aspects of life. For that reason, the London, England, pastor insists the church must touch every person God sends to it with the Good News in as many ways as possible.

British pastor Malcolm Duncan, left, visits with worshippers after a recent Wednesday night service at Memorial Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo. (Photo by Bill Webb)

Duncan was in the United States recently to meet with supporters and volunteers in Missouri and Texas. He visited several area pastors and preached at Memorial Baptist Church in Jefferson City while in Missouri.

Many Baptists from both states served with members of his congregation, Gold Hill Baptist Church, to minister during last summer’s Olympic Games in London. Rather than concentrating on visitors who poured into Great Britain, the congregation reached out primarily to locals.

Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Duncan turned down the Gold Hill pastorate five or six times before finally agreeing to serve. He wanted to work with the urban poor, but Gold Hill sits in an affluent London suburb.

When he finally agreed to talk with the church, he challenged them: “What would you do about missions?”

During the discussion, he told them to take a look around them. The church was one of the most influential, but with a largely older congregation, members spent more time talking about the church’s heritage rather than its legacy.

Then he told them that if the church called him as pastor, “I will lead you to a place where the mission is the center of everything.” He became pastor in 2010.

A friend counseled him to “hit the ground kneeling…prayerfully and powerfully so that your words on mission will mean something.”

From his first day, missions and outreach have been his mantra. “Our members had a global mission understanding” but not as much of a local one, he said. “But our church has risen to the challenge.”

Now about 37 percent of the congregation’s budget is spent on missions, which Duncan called “highly unusual” in the United Kingdom. He has concentrated on “making missions easy” by involving members as much as possible.

The church is like a casserole, Duncan said. When a warm casserole is placed into a refrigerator, “the fridge wins.” Regardless of how hot the casserole, the cold climate drops the food’s temperature.

The “temperature” in the church “heats up” for about a month whenever some of its members do a mission activity. “But then the fridge wins. The fridge must become an oven,” he said.

Now from the handshake at the door to events such as the London Olympics, “missions are embedded in every decision we make,” he said. “Ours is a values-driven church, not a program-driven church.”

Duncan is a driving force behind Catalyst Mission. The website ( promotes the ideal of “churches of all traditions gathering relationally around mission.” Congregations are encouraged to develop and share resources, and connect to one another. The concept also concentrates on God’s releasing the church in the Holy Spirit to build the kingdom.

Duncan is founder and director of Church and Community, a ministry to provide resources for “helping Christians serving others.” Previously, he was the leader of Faithworks, a social action movement in the United Kingdom.

A prolific writer, Duncan has published Building a Better World: Faith at Work for Change in Society, Kingdom Come: The Local Church as a Catalyst for Social Change, Unstoppable: God’s Great Purposes for the Church and his most recent, Risk Takers: The Life God Intends for You. His blog, Thin Places: Where Faith and Life Meet, is found at

Concord Baptist Association in Missouri will begin a partnership with Gold Hill in 2014.