The Cape Town Commitment, Part 2: A Call to Action, a Summation

(Editor’s Note: This document was originally designed for the Cape Town 2010 participants from the U.K. Its purpose is to introduce Part 2 of the Commitment and to begin to explore how to act on the Commitment, rather than simply reading it.)

Part 1 of The Cape Town Commitment: The Cape Town Confession (CTC) was circulated at the end of the Congress, in several languages. It is primarily a confessional document, providing a foundation in biblical, theological, and missiological terms. This is the faith we profess and confess. What we do and how we do it, how we live, and our priorities and responsibilities—as individuals, congregations, agencies, or networks, in every dimension of life—should flow out of that faith and be shaped by it.

Part 2 of the Commitment: A Call to Action, should not be separated from Part 1, because to do so would leave us with unrooted activism, just as Part 1 on its own could leave us with theory, but no action. We need both parts, and to see them as interdependent. It is constructed around the topics for the six plenary days of the Congress:

  1. Bearing witness to the truth of Christ in a pluralistic, globalised world
  2. Building the peace of Christ in our divided and broken world
  3. Living the love of Christ among people of other faiths
  4. Discerning the will of Christ for world evangelization
  5. Calling the Church of Christ back to humility, integrity, and simplicity
  6. Partnering in the Body of Christ for unity in mission

Each section has various subsections, with explanatory and introductory text, followed by specific calls to action.

Please note that Part 2 is a reflection of, and on, what was said at the Congress, within the terms set for the Statement Group. So, depending upon where in the world or where along the spectrum of world evangelicalism and Pentecostalism we come from, there may be some things we personally (or even nationally) would not highlight as much, or note to be missing and wish they weren’t.

Nobody is being asked to sign this document as proof of being “in” or “out,” but as with The Lausanne Covenant, we trust it may prove a unifying statement of shared belief and commitment to action, even if any one of us might have written some things differently.

The question we need to address most of all is how we might use the Commitment within our diverse contexts. In the near future there will be study guide materials on the web, and within a few months, a Didasko file booklet containing both Part 1 and Part 2. Very likely, Mrs. Jones leading the missionary prayer meeting, Mr. MacLeod as local church deacon, or young Dave and Anna in the youth fellowship are not likely to read the whole document at a sitting—and it certainly doesn’t yet lend itself to Tweets and Twitters. But if we believe this represents some of the wisdom of the world Church, listening to God’s word and Spirit, then we need active, not passive, response.

So we have several questions that flow from this one: How do we convey the substance of each Part to our constituencies? This is a communication issue: format, method, occasion, etc. But after that:

  1. How do we interact with the substance to endorse it, dissent from it, understanding it, perhaps modifying it in our own contexts? This is an identification issue.
  2. How will this document change our understanding and praxis of mission, locally, globally, and cross-culturally? Implementing change, and persuading others, can be difficult, as well as necessary. This is an application issue.
  3. What do you think are the most urgent parts to work on within the U.K. (or elsewhere)? This is a priorities issue.
  4. Are there issues that we can work on together, bridging some of the tribal squabbles that afflict U.K. (or elsewhere) evangelicals? This is a corporate and unity issue.
  5. Are there already bodies/structures in place in the U.K. (or elsewhere) that address some of the areas cited in The Call to Action, and if so how can we strengthen them together? This is an issue of information, support, and consolidation, without re-inventing wheels or wasting resources through duplication.
  6. Are there further resources, in a variety of media, which we could produce that would help us? If so, who will do what? This is an issue of planning for ongoing momentum, and of imaginative creativity.

We need to address these questions at the level of church leadership, agency leadership, Bible and theological colleges, and each sphere of “Christian leadership” from which the majority of Congress participants came. But equally urgently we need to address the same questions to:

  • “ordinary” church members as they go about the business of bearing witness to the Lord Jesus in every sphere of life;
  • people who influence decisions in professions and councils and communities;
  • media and homemakers; and
  • the elderly and the young.

Mission is the calling of every disciple of the Lord. Can we translate Cape Town into London and Liverpool, Belfast and Bristol, Glasgow and Gloucester (and elsewhere around the world)? City, town, and village? Church and marketplace? United across our diverse ethnicities? And all to the glory of God…

Rose Dowsett is a retired OMF International missionary, having served in the Philippines, in the U.K., and in other parts of the world. She is a missiologist, speaker, and author, and wife, mother, and grandmother. Dowsett is vice-chair of the World Evangelical Alliance's Mission Commission.