Friday, October 29, 2010

Cape Town, South Africa - Lausanne 2010

Lausanne 2010. On the one hand I couldn’t help but be impressed: More than 4000 leaders from every region of the world, all converging on Cape Town, South Africa for only the third such “congress” in history. Informed, passionate speakers from those same regions gave their best take on where we are in the task of global evangelism, and where we as a global church need to go. A multitude of seminars and dialogue groups explored in great detail every conceivable aspect of mission in an age of globalization. Some of the conversation generated was profound, and some of us made important connections that may lead to very fruitful collaborations for the kingdom. My role was to help delegates build a sustainable spirituality for ministry in the city. That, and invite leaders to consider doing a doctorate in ministry with my school.

But I have many “on the other hands”. There were many gaps in the program – places where the western strings and power levers were revealed, showing that we have a long way before the whole church is valued and trusted enough to take their rightful place in what purports to be such a global event. Leadership of the event did not give full voice to indigenous Christians. The whole church was not invited to be full participants in the event., with Orthodox, Catholic and Chinese Registered Churches not invited. Not one Native American representative was invited; the few that came got there through a back door institution. There was little public dissent. The script was carefully dictated.

I do praise God for the hundreds of volunteers that made this happen, some investing months and even years to the effort. And I am quite sure that the Holy Spirit inhabited all the good intensions, all the prayers and praises, all the discussions both formal and informal. I trust that there will be both eternal and temporal fruit. But I can’t help but hear the frustration in the voices of my Latin American and Native American friends when they reflected on the opportunity missed, and the feeling of not being honored or trusted with full membership in the process.

The picture presented of a world beset by complex evils of child labor, sexual trafficking, ethnic cleansing, civil war, corporate exploitation, the poisening of the environment, and millions dying without knowledge of the one who died to set them free, is a world far too complex to reach without the whole church. The motto of Lausanne, since the first Lausanne Congress that resulted in the benchmark Lausanne Covenant in 1974, has been “Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole World.” John Stott, Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar helped draft it as a result of true and honest conversation. It will not be fulfilled until Whole Church is truly present, as they envisioned.

As I sit in the Cape Town airport, I dread the more than 24 hours it will take to get home. And 12 days later I leave again to teach in Kingston. But I know it was a privilege to be here, and the Lord will carry me on.

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