In a July 2008 Episcopal Life article, my colleague Ian Douglas quotes the Archbishop of Canterbury as saying, in reference to the upcoming Lambeth Conference:
The main focus I long to see at this conference is the better equipping of bishops to fulfill their task as agents and enablers of mission, as co-workers with God's mission in Jesus Christ.
Clearly it would be good thing for the bishops to improve the quality of their own collegial work. However, what is most important, when they leave Lambeth and return home to their dioceses, is that the work continues with a different set of co-workers: the rest of the church: laity, deacons and priests. Mission isn't just about God and the bishops. God does not appear to intend a model of trickle-down mission, but rather grass roots. Jesus, after all, came to fisherfolk, not the hierarchy, to choose his missionaries. So the bishops need to be prepared not only to work with their episcopal colleagues, domestic and foreign, but with all of the other missionary members of the church, not lording it over them, but as Christ did, working among them. To paraphrase John the Evangelist (1 John 4:20),
If you cannot work with your brothers and sisters in Christ, whom you have seen, you cannot work with God, whom you have not seen.
I understand that the work of the Apostle John is to be part of the substance of the Lambeth Bible study. May the words of the Scripture enlighten the minds of the bishops, to strengthen them in the mission they share with the whole church.
Tobias Haller BSG