Gathered to Scatter: Raising Up the Next Generation of Leaders

This past summer and fall, I had the privilege of meeting with ministry leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Australia/Oceania who are all committed to the cause of world evangelization. A few weeks ago, I was also able to meet with our Lausanne international deputy directors at The North American Consultation on the Role of the Church in the HIV/AIDS Pandemic. One concern consistently raised in these meetings was the necessity for a younger generation of Christian leadership to be raised who will meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.   

The global Church needs leaders with Christ-centered integrity, biblical vision and demonstrated leadership competence who will lead the Church forward. Unfortunately, this leadership is in short supply with respect to the global mission enterprise. This is a concern even with the HIV/AIDS pandemic; today’s Christian leaders must understand how HIV/AIDS is impacting the world, affecting families, communities and economies. From the pulpit, leaders must be able to challenge the Church to better understand the devastation of HIV/AIDS and to move in compassion in real and tangible ways.

As we look around our world today, the Church is increasingly fragmented at the same time that the world is being increasingly globalized and plagued with global issues.  Additionally, many younger leaders are being influenced by the idea that in order to be successful, one must operate in a business-model or mega-ministry type context. These are not the ideals modeled by Christ.

Historically, the Lausanne movement has played a key role in uniting the Church around the world in the task of world evangelization. As we face the challenges of a new millennium, the Lausanne movement recognizes the need for a new generation of leaders to strengthen both the movement and as a result the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. We desire to infuse the leadership of the Church around the world with the Ì¢‰âÒspirit of Lausanne,Ì¢‰âÂå a spirit of prayer, humility, partnership and hope.

The Singapore ’87 Younger Leader’s Conference, sponsored by Lausanne, was successful in bringing leaders together. Many of us who were at Singapore ’87 would refer to it as the most significant conference we ever attended. It was the Singapore ’87 conference that God used to expand my horizons and open my eyes to the realities of the world. It also served to connect me with outstanding younger leaders who have become lifelong friends. Two of these leaders, Peter Kuzmic and Ajith Fernando, would both say that God used the conference to launch their international ministries. Singapore ’87 shaped the thinking of many leaders, including myself. Many of the leaders have today forged enduring partnerships and friendships.

In the same way, we pray that God will use the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering 2006 in similar and in even greater ways. As a global gathering, the event serves as a catalyst for an ongoing development of younger leaders committed to world evangelization. A team of recommenders from around the world are in the process of selecting 550 leaders between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five to attend the gathering. If you would like more information about this event or would like to recommend a younger leader, please go to and click on Ì¢‰âÒYounger Leaders Gathering InfoÌ¢‰âÂå at the bottom of the page.

I thank you for your partnership in the gospel and for the fellowship we enjoy through the Lausanne movement. It is my prayer that this issue of Lausanne World Pulse may enlighten and challenge you to think further on the global issue of HIV/AIDS and what it may take to develop a younger generation of Church leaders who will boldly and compassionately face such a challenge. May God continue to wonderfully bless you.

Doug Birdsall is executive chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He served as president of Asian Access from 1991 to 2007 and continues to serve on their board of directors. Birdsall is a graduate of Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Harvard University. He is co-publisher of Lausanne World Pulse.