Author: Cody C. Lorance
Category: Evangelism Training, Partnership
Question #5 – Am I ridiculously naïve to think that God could actually give us (the Church) a lasting and significant common ground at Cape Town that we will be so deeply compelled by that we then univocally, unswervingly, and perseveringly take back to the whole Church?
I’m excited to see how conversation is beginning to pick up around the excellent paper submitted by the Lausanne Theology Working Group. If you still haven’t had a chance to read the paper, please link to it here or download the attached PDF. Now on to today’s reflection:
A final reflection/question on the "Whole Church" section, I just want to stand and applaud for the entire second paragraph on page 21 (full version). “History shows us that haste breeds shallowness.” This is so true and so critical. And yet, my heart just sort of groans within me. How do we get fully behind such a statement? This is very much related to what I said before about my concern that we might in Cape Town get excited and feel supportive of such ideas but then not have the follow through to really bring about change. The reality is these 4,000+ delegates at Cape Town actually represent the whole Church and every segment thereof. The potential to bring about real change is undeniable. But is the will there? Is there the level of commitment necessary to faithfully and perseveringly speak these things back into the global Church? Or will we come back to another Lausanne gathering years from now and simply repeat, “haste breeds shallowness” and confess that nothing has changed? Am I just a naïve little boy? Let me share an experience I had recently.
I sit on a council that provides some level of administrative governance for a large group of local churches. I’m one of the youngest at the table so I try to simply serve, to do what I’m told, to be a help:
"Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use ..."
But in this past year, I was asked to lead a subgroup focused on helping to elevate the local-global value of the entire body of churches. The idea (at least as I saw it) was, “How can we become collectively more valuable to the global Church and more connected to the wealth of the global Church?” Well, as our subgroup began the process of brainstorming ideas about how to accomplish this, I heard the news that the Lausanne Global Conversation was soon to be launched. I knew that this was at least part of the answer for our organization.
I began spending hours studying the site and considering different ways in which we could use it in our organization. After some time, I brought a full report and recommendation to the council. All seemed convinced. There was a unanimous vote of affirmation to pursue our organization’s full engagement with the LGC. I drove home feeling excited. All members of the council were to create profiles, add content, create profiles for their churches, and together plan to introduce it to the full body of churches in our organization. I waited, waited . . . nothing happened. Not one individual from that council followed through with creating a profile after that meeting. It was extremely disheartening.
Now this story serves to illustrate two issues. First, will our Cape Town experience be just like that? Will there be great swells of affirmation and a massive “getting-behind” certain ideas and calls and priorities and then no follow through? Will our commitments have any teeth? And secondly, if we do have the passion and commitment to actually go home and call our organizations, churches, etc. to these commitments, will we be able to persevere when they look at us as say, “Ummm . . . well, not sure if we really want to do that.” For myself, I simply wanted to write off that council – a verse about pearls and swine came to mind. But I know I don’t actually have the liberty to do that. I cannot simply drop these things when they are met with opposition or (worse) apathy.
"Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say: ’That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all.’"
Here is the feeling that swells in my heart right now. As a worker in God’s global mission, I feel in myself a great dependency on my 4,000+ brothers and sisters to not only verbally affirm those things that we agree on at Cape Town, but to use every opportunity and platform God has given them to announce, explain, and defend these things to the larger Church. I am absolutely counting on my brothers and sisters from the U.S., Europe, Latin America, India, and elsewhere. I’m counting on the 30-40 from Nepal, the hundreds from Africa, the one from Bhutan. I’m counting on them to go home and proclaim and teach with perseverance to the church where they are that “haste breeds shallowness” and all the other things that God lays on our hearts. And I’m working under the assumption that you are counting on me. I take that responsibility quite seriously.
"Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it toward some overwhelming question, To say: ’I am Lazarus, come from the dead Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all!’"
In short, Mr. Prufrock . . . yes!