It was a wonderful privilege to be able to take part in the Lausanne III World Congress, Cape Town 2010, from 16-25 October.
The gathering brought together over 4,000 evangelical leaders from 198 countries for a week of teaching, fellowship, worship and dialogue around the theme ‘The whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world’.
A busy programme (all main sessions still available on line) included morning Bible readings on Ephesians from leading international expositors, plenaries on issues relating to world mission and a whole variety of ‘multiplex’ sessions and dialogues (seminars) on a myriad of topics relevant to Christian mission today.
This was the third such conference on world evangelisation, following on from similar events in Lausanne Switzerland in 1973 and Manila, Philippines in 1989.
The ‘Cape Town Commitment’, currently being finalised, will be issued in the New Year outlining the challenges for world mission in the next decade.
There were so many encouragements from this event, and every delegate will have taken away their own precious memories, have made their own special friendships and their own specific challenges, but particular highlights and perceptions for me included the following:
•The explosive growth of the church in the ‘global south’. Those countries with the largest number of evangelical Christians, after the US, are now in order: China, India, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea. The UK barely makes the top ten.
•The challenge from Chris Wright, Director of the Langham Partnership and Chief Editor of the Cape Town Commitment, that the greatest barrier facing mission today was not persecution, ‘other faiths’, or resistant people groups, but rather moral compromise of the Christian community. He challenged us to be HIS people (people of humility, integrity and simplicity).
•There were wonderful testimonies from Christians facing intense persecution in the hard places – particularly the Muslim world, North Korea and Northern Nigeria. A testimony from an 18 year old North Korean girl who had lost both of her parents but was wanting to return to her country to serve Christ was a turning point in the conference. Not a dry eye in the house.
•Richard Stearns’ powerful challenge to the western church to live simply and give generously (Richard Stearns is the US President of World Vision). US Christians give on average 2.5% of their incomes to church and charitable work and 98% of this is spent in the US. ‘Imagine’, he said, ‘if they gave 10% and half was spent in the global south what impact it would have.’
•The strong emphasis on ‘integral mission’, - Christ’s ‘Nazareth Manifesto’ call (Luke 4:18, 19) to the ministry of ‘preaching, mercy and justice’ with the aim of bringing God’s people to full maturity in Christ.
•A growing recognition of the importance of ‘workplace ministry’ equipping Christians to be witnesses in the workplace.
•New opening doors to world mission into previously closed countries through the roots of business, education, government, media and medicine (BEGMM). Doctors are perhaps unique in having an open door to every country on earth, many where traditional avenues to missionary work are closed.
•‘Turning Points’: After a glimpse of the opening of the conference, this video traces in two segments the growth of the Church from Pentecost to the present in the face of many obstacles.
•‘Best practice’ models of whole person ministry of the church to local communities. An HIV/Aids project I visited in the Cape (Living Hope) is seeing many people converted and the community transformed through practical Christian love at all levels including hospice and clinic care, schools education, employment training and ministry to the homeless.
•The exponential progress in Bible translation and the rapidly diminishing number of ‘unreached people groups’ as para-church organisations in particular deliberately and intentionally fulfil the great commission in a systematic way.
•The wonderful experience of worshipping in a multi cultural environment - a real foretaste of Revelation 7:9, 10.
•The innovative ‘table groups’ enabling groups of four-six to have ongoing deep fellowship within the context of 4,000 strong plenary sessions.
I hope this gives you a glimpse of some of the highlights and encourages you as we move together to fulfil Christ’s great commission (Matthew 28:19, 20) and great commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) in this next decade.