Last Wednesday I was invited, with about 35 other leaders, to a lunchtime conversation with organizers of the next Lausanne Congress (in Cape Town October 2010). The historic Lausanne Covenant of 1974 propelled evangelicals into a global commitment to share the holistic gospel, bringing together evangelism and social concern -"the whole gospel for the whole world."
In preparation for the next congress, we were challenged about needing God's help to engage with what is happening in our ever more rapidly changing world. We were handed material with headline issues facing the gospel today: global poverty; injustice, othe world faiths, HIV/Aids and religious persecution. A leaflet spelt out other details:
- massive people movements
- the advance of other faiths
- political violence
- techno-driven ethics and lifestyles
- increasing preference for visual images and the spoken word
- a parallel virtual universe.
At first sight some of this seems far too big to handle. They are global issues after all. But in rapid-fire conversation a panel of seven showed just how practical and urgent these questions are. They ranged over the challenges of globalization, the Muslim world, new atheism, justice for the oppressed, "the right way of doing church," what the W. church can learn from others, relationships between church and state, and how do we live with differences? And so much more! I was struck that though these subjects are large and complex it is of immense value to listen to others. That's the ongoing prayer for Lausanne - that a global Christian community may learn from the insights Christ has given in many different cultures for God's sake.
I cannot attend Cape Town, but I am going to try to remember these global conversations in prayer - that a truly global partnership in Christ will bring forth fruit.