The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization concluded last Monday in Cape Town, South Africa (www.capetown.2010.com). The theme of the gathering was “In Joyful Partnership, Bringing the Whole Gospel to the Whole World from the Whole Church,” based on 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.”
Billy Graham convened the first congress on world evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974. The Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization was born in 1975 and The Lausanne Covenant was published the same year. The Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering met for the first time in Singapore in 1987, with participants from over 60 nations. The Second Lausanne Congress took place in Manila, Philippines in 1989. The Manila Manifesto is launched; over 300 new partnerships began. The Lausanne Forum for World Evangelization was held in Pattaya, Thailand in 2004; it addressed 31 key issues.
In 2005, it was agreed that a Third Lausanne Congress be held 16-25 October 2010, and that gathering just concluded. 4,000 evangelical church leaders and Kingdom-minded professionals from 200 nations met to ask God’s help to engage with what is happening in our ever-more changing world: A world of massive people movements; the advance of other faiths; political violence; techno-driven ethics and lifestyles; increasing preference for visual images and the spoken word; and a parallel virtual universe. Global issues need global conversations.
The Lausanne Covenant has been a great rallying call to the evangelical Church around the world. It defined what it means to be evangelical, that is, what it means to have Scripture as final authority in what we believe and in how we live. It is a covenant with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and with God Himself. The covenant form was chosen deliberately, as a solemn and public declaration to the world of the relationship between our faith and our lives.
Covenants are serious matters, not to be entered into lightly. They are binding agreements, and we need to read the “small print” carefully, and ensure that we have understood all the implications before we prepare to sign. The Lausanne Covenant was drawn together with great care, balancing the right words and phrases and emphases, to reflect what the Lausanne participants believed to be the weight of Scripture. Will you join the global conversation?
Go to www.lausanne.org to read the Covenant for yourself. With the recent conclusion of the Lausanne Congress in South Africa, our hope is that The Church will press on to fulfill Christ’s last command on earth to “Make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20), directed and empowered by His Holy Spirit, engaging new realities, in partnership, with strategic intent.
The Lausanne Covenant is widely recognized as one of the most significant documents in modern church history. There is a study guide available, written with the sharp mind and pastoral insights of one of my mentors, John Stott, that can be used personally or in groups. Each of the fifteen sections is followed by stimulating and searching questions. I hope you will make an effort to get a study guide, read the Lausanne Covenant, and consider joining the movement.
Serve globally. In brief, we are working to obey Christ’s final command on earth, which has never been rescinded. So my question to you is this: Will you join us? For the Lord we Love.
Love is a verb,