Being Mindful and Deliberate in Training Younger Evangelists

In today’s world there is a dizzying array of messages and competing voices, but one voice that cannot be ignored is the voice of the younger generation. With (1) the exponential expansion of global migration and mobility, (2) global communication and information technology and (3) global problems and epidemics, the youth are not only one of the most affected, but also the primary means of impacting the future. The area of Christian world evangelization is no different.

As vision sets the trajectory for any movement, leadership provides the very energy and momentum to move in a specific direction. Thus, every movement must be mindful to constantly bring up and incorporate a new generation of leaders. History reminds us that vibrant movements that have neglected to bring up new and younger leaders through the ranks have subsequently subsided and disappeared. One must constantly replenish the ranks or a war will never be won.

The Lausanne Movement is not only seeking to focus on key ideas and issues; it will also focus on who the key people are who God is raising up. The 2006 Younger Leaders Gathering in Malaysia is being convened specifically for the purpose of raising new leaders for world evangelization. YLG ’06 is not intended to be a one-time event; rather, it is meant to be a process that will include mentoring small groups and hosting subsequent Lausanne Younger Leaders Global Connections around the world between October 2006 to May 2007.

Many of the current senior Lausanne leaders, including yours truly, emerged from Lausanne’s Younger Leaders Gathering in 1987 in Singapore. Participants from Singapore are now planning a twenty-year reunion to celebrate the relationships established and to reflect on the strategic impact of that gathering on their lives and ministry.

Every movement needs (1) the experience of those who have gone before us (2) the commitment of those currently engaged in ministry and (3) the leadership, enthusiasm, vitality and promise of a new generation. In Budapest in June 2007, these three dynamic streams of leadership from the past, present and future will be brought together during Lausanne’s biannual leadership meetings. In addition to the convening of the Lausanne III executive leadership team, Leighton Ford will be organizing a meeting of senior statespersons and Brian Stiller will be organizing the Singapore reunion. A new generation of leaders emerging from YLG ’06 will also be incorporated into this motley crew.

As we plan and pray for the future, let us be mindful and deliberate in the development and refinement of the youth who are to energize and lead us into the next era of world evangelization.

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.