Exactly 40 years ago, in July 1974, the first Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization was held. In his opening plenary address, Billy Graham focused on the key question of Why Lausanne? expressing hopes in four points:
“1. I would like to see the Congress frame a biblical declaration on evangelism…
2. I would like to see the church challenged to complete the task of world evangelization…
3. I trust we can state what the relationship is between evangelism and social responsibility…
4. I hope that a new ‘koinonia’ or fellowship among evangelicals of all persuasions will be developed throughout the world.”
During the Congress the Lausanne Covenant was drafted by the 2,700 participants from 150 countries. The main purpose of the Lausanne Covenant was to broaden the worldview of evangelicals and facilitate partnership and unity among the body of Christ for the purpose of world evangelization.
The event lasted for 10 days and consisted of discussion, fellowship, worship and prayer. Given the range of nationalities, ethnicities, ages, occupations and church affiliations, TIME magazine described it as “a formidable forum, possibly the widest-ranging meeting of Christians ever held.”
The statement of faith of the Lausanne Covenant includes the following topics:
- The purpose of God
- The authority and power of the Bible
- The uniqueness and universality of Christ
- The nature of evangelism
- Christian social responsibility
- The Church and evangelism
- Cooperation in evangelism
- Churches in evangelistic partnership
- The urgency of the evangelistic task
- Evangelism and culture
- Education and leadership
- Spiritual conflict
- Freedom and persecution
- The power of the Holy Spirit
- The return of Christ
The Lausanne covenant acknowledges the failure of many contemporary churches caught up in the prosperity gospel and in bondage to culture rather than Scripture. It is for these reasons that the church today can greatly benefit from the Lausanne Covenant.
Since Lausanne I, two subsequent congresses have been held: Lausanne II in Manila in 1989 and Lausanne III in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010.
The full text of the Lausanne Covenant can be found at the following link: http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/lausanne-covenant.html
Where do we stand today, as evangelicals, 40 years from that event?