The Third Lausanne Congress

On Friday this week I leave the UK for South Africa to attend the third Lausanne Congress on world evangelization.

Phil Jenkins | 21:43, Thursday, 14 October 2010

The first Lausanne Congress was held in Switzerland in 1974 and the second in Manila in 1989. It is difficult to estimate the enormous significance that these gatherings have had for world mission. It is sufficient to say that the Lausanne Covenant published at the end of the first congress has been described by many as the most influential evangelical theological document in recent church history.

If William Carey's An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens published in 1792 (they weren't too worried about snappy titles in those days!) is rightly seen as seminal in launching the modern protestant missionary movement, then the Lausanne Covenant has become an equally important statement around which the global church has rallied to fulfil her missional responsibilities.  The relatively brief 15 statements of the Covenant deliberately endorse the theology of the Nicene Creed and call the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. This reaffirming of "wholeness" was, and continues to be, a key element in the re-stating of the task of world mission.

As if by way of an entrée last Sunday we had the privilege of enjoying a delicious foretaste of what Cape Town 2010 will be like. Here at Highfields we had Dr. Joseph D’Souza as the guest speaker for our global missions focus weekend.   It was such a joy to hear another voice.  A voice from the global church – Joseph is the President of the All India Christian Council. And we certainly heard about the life transforming effects of telling and showing the whole gospel in India as thousands of dalits – those from the so-called untouchable caste - have found freedom from sin and social slavery through faith in Jesus.  We as church were encouraged to see all of us involved in mission to the whole world as we thought and prayed in our This Time Tomorrow spot of where Highfields church would be on Monday morning.

It was a good weekend and I’m looking forward to another great weekend coming up. I’m staying with friends of ours with whom we served in mission in north Namibia for a number of years in the 90’s. Pedro and Barbie Erasmus lead a growing church in Edgemead in the northern suburbs of Cape Town – it will be great to catch up with them again. And then of course there’s the week of the Congress.  I’m praying that the outcome of the gathering will be a new sense of the Spirit of God directing and empowering us as his global people to respond to the new global challenges of mission for 2010 and beyond.

Imagine what God could do as the result of over 4000 delegates from more than 200 countries coming together to listen to his voice through his word and through each other. Engaging big questions with bold faith for Christ’s glory in world transformation - that is what Cape Town 2010 is all about. 

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