Looking back at the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (Lausanne) compendiums and Occasional Papers, including those from the 2004 Lausanne Forum Issue Groups, I was reminded that the spirit of Lausanne is one of great breadth and depth. The idea of connecting people with a common vision is not only compelling, but is also resulting in a unity that is changing our world. The important issue in the name itselfÌ¢âÂÛthat of world evangelizationÌ¢âÂÛis central among evangelicals today. Recently, TIME magazine noted that world evangelism is “the lifeblood of evangelicals.”1 We feel a burden to reach the lost.
World evangelism is also central in leadership, a concern Lausanne has sought to take on over the years. Being a leader means having the ability to rally people to change something in order to ensure a better future.
We are not compelled byÌ¢âÂÛor dependent uponÌ¢âÂÛhuman effort and vision. In fact, our task here at Lausanne is not even our own. It is the Lord’s. Jesus said that all authority had been given to him. And this God who is doing the work is a God of purpose. Henry Blackaby once spoke of “God on Mission,” and the concept that he initiates his work through his people. John Stott once said the living God that we serve is a missionary God. Thus, Jesus is not merely a model for what we do. He is the one seeking and saving today.
The papers which the thirty-one Issue Groups (IGs) produced from the Lausanne 2004 Forum (see Lausanne Occasional Papers, seek to both continue the LCWE tradition and to expand it. The IGs include a vast range of topics, with plans on implementing action steps which will make the discussions a reality.
Many IGs processed a great deal of information prior to the meetings. Some have had subsequent meetings either in-person or via email. Various ministries, ideas and case studies have resulted. It is truly amazing what God has done and is continuing to do.
While there were some IGs that had cross-over meetings with other IGs, groups were not able to exchange papers, and thus not able to revise their own work using the insights of others.
There are a number of different action steps and training plans proposed in these new Lausanne Occasional Papers. Most of those steps either require or call for two things: (1) churches willing to act and (2) believers willing to commit.
Several questions were proposed by a number of IGs concerning how to make the above two needs a reality: (1) How do we see the church established in a given culture, especially in an area where no church is present? And (2) How do we help develop Christians who not only live out their faith on Sunday morning, but live in a Christ-focused manner throughout the week?
There are also additional types of ministry or outreach that God calls some to engage in, in order to more effectively reach a culture, region or nation. It might be helpful to decide whether the different IGs are to focus on the first category (churches willing to act) or the second category (believers willing to commit) as their primary concern.
We as evangelicals do care about the lost, and reaching them is our passion. The task God has set before us is not one in which he has left us to finish the work alone. Jesus is still moving today. He is still advancing his Kingdom. We are not involved because we happen to see a need that must be met in the world, but because God wants us to be part of his master plan. As we obey him and are empowered by him to reach the lost, we bring him glory. This is how we will see world evangelization advanced.
1. Van Biema, David. “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” TIME. vol. 165, no. 6. Feb. 7, 2005, p. 42.