I am in Cape Town for the Lausanne congress. The third of its kind – and largest ever Christian conference to be held in Africa. As the saying goes – anybody who is somebody had to be here (I count among the ‘nobodies’ – someone needs to be in that number also). Indeed, it is a rare opportunity to get to the Christian leaders some kind of recognition (apart from the crown waiting in heavens) – by putting their name in a Congress book, or giving them a badge of a different color to the most of the people, or getting them a VIP status. Major donors are here – our benefactors, seminary presidents, superintendents, bishops and alike, creme de la creme.
But, in spite of my cynicism, this Lausanne is a milestone of a new era in the evangelical Christianity. The divide between evangelism and social action, so strong in the past and tackled by John Stott already at Lausanne I (1974), seems to be growing smaller every year. Then, the age of speedy and voluminous evangelism is gone along with modernity times, there is more emphasis on discipleship nowadays, to try to keep up the GC of our Lord – Mt 28:18-20; and a meeting being held here is deliberately putting Africa on a missions agenda again – and rightly so.
This is a Congress of the age of social networks who will continue to function after this week – it would be interesting to find out how many FB and Twitter, YouTube, and YouNameIt entries will be done with the Lausanne word in it these days. It is also noticeable that there are less speakers from the Western world and that the country/continent representation is being done more in accordance with the real situation, for example, showing how the Western world got estranged from its Christian heritage in the last 50 years or so, how much are the Global South and Global East dominant nowadays, the participation of women, and so on.
The Congress leaders are preparing the Statement. Is it going to be a confirmation of the Lausanne covenant from 1974 or a step to unknown waters we will learn in a week from now. Is Lausanne from a movement going to become a pillar of ev. Christianity? An unmovable one? Will it establish itself as a some sort of super denomination, with administration at al, or will it attempt to continue to be a loose association of like-minded people? Can it bring us back from a ‘dollar per convert’ cost efficiency model of missions to the ‘reaching the unreached,’ to go where missionaries can rarely or never go, to bring the Message of Hope to the needy? Will find that out. Soon.