Autor: J. D. Payne
Category: Compromiso con Las Escrituras, Grupos Humanos No Alcanzados, Verdad y Pluralismo
The following was originally posted this week at my blog: www.jdpayne.org.
If you have been following me on Twitter, Facebook, or this blog, you know that I am a supporter of the Lausanne Movement, including Cape Town 2010. Yesterday, I posted several links to assist you in keeping up with the happenings of October 16-25. I also posted this podcast to download. For the past several months, I have been serving as a Lausanne Subject Matter Expert on the topic of Diaspora, and as part of the Cape Town 2010 Blogger Network.
I share this information with the hope that you will hear my heart on my concern regarding Cape Town 2010 and the Great Commission. I recognize that such a concern may seem strange since it is a congress on world evangelization. Here is my story as to why I am raising the issue.
Two years ago, I was attending the annual Evangelical Missiological Society in Broomfield, Colorado when a major announcement was made regarding Cape Town 2010. As with everyone else who has followed the outcomes of Lausanne I (Lausanne, Switzerland) and Lausanne II (Manilia, Philippines), I was excited to know that a third congress was scheduled to occur. However, as I became familiar with the numerous topics to be addressed, mainly dealing with social and ethical challenges facing the Church, I wondered where was the emphasis on evangelism. I simply filed the matter away in my mind, wondering if I had been hyper-sensitive to the issue (After all, I am a professor of evangelism.).
As time passed, I still did not hear a great deal of emphasis on the topic of global evangelization. I heard about a multitude of other extremely urgent and important matters such as migration, human-trafficking, urbanization, globalization, poverty, Islam, bioethics, AIDS/HIV, and the Majority World Church. I heard a great deal about the need for the Church to address the major humanitarian issues of the day. Again, very timely and important topics to which the Church should respond.
But where was the spirit of 1974? Where was the emphasis on reaching the unreached people groups? Where was the emphasis on evangelizing the different population segments of the world? Where was the focus on church planting?
By this time, I was concerned but still decided to remain silent (Again, many of the leaders at Lausanne I have influenced my missiology. Also, as a church planting professor, I can be hyper-sensitive when church planting is not on the agenda, even when the church’s Women’s Sewing Committee meets!)
And then in August of this year, I read an article in Christianity Today that contained a chart comparing the four world missions conferences of 2010. My eyes were drawn to what the author interpreted "The Future of Missions Is" for Cape Town 2010: "Mobilizing Christians for ’global solutions’ to HIV/AIDS, poverty, Islam, and other global issues."
By now my concern had deepened, and while I was not ready to make any comments, I chalked matters up to the fact that beneath the surface of these contemporary issues the emphasis of reaching people with the gospel will be present.
As time elapsed, my heart became more troubled.
As a part of the blogger network, I participated in two different events. One related to the 12 Cities 12 Conversations and the other an interview with one of the plenary speakers. Now, because some of our brothers and sisters related to these events will be reading this post, I am not going to reveal any names or location. Such would not be profitable for the building up of the Body.
During the 2 hour meeting in one of the 12 cities, I took approximately eight pages of notes of the discussion. Now, while I did step out for five minutes to speak to my family and tell my kids goodnight, I participated in the entire session.
At the time, I was so troubled about the content that I decided to refrain from blogging about it out of fear that I had misunderstood something. For two hours, very little was said about the gospel and even less about evangelism. The most I heard about the latter topic was when one of the sponsors of the event was able to share about his organization. He mentioned the importance of evangelizing children.
So, what was said if global evangelism was not to be found?
I heard that the western Church is dead, particularly the Anglo church. That the only vibrant churches in America are 1st generation immigrant churches. The church in the West simply needs to turn over the reins to the Majority World Church, and then get out of the way and learn from them. The importance of ethnic diversity was stressed, and evangelicals need to get out and help their communities. Disunity in both the church local and global is a problem. And that we need to make better consumer decisions, for our purchases in North America affect our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
I felt that if we had removed the word "church" from our conversation, we could have been talking about the humanitarian efforts of a multitude of organizations.
Don’t get me wrong. All of the matters discussed that evening were extremely important matters to address. The problem was that they were given front-and-center stage in relation to a congress on world evangelization, with the topic of evangelization not being addressed.
While the interview with one of the plenary speakers also addressed some very important matters, the topic of global evangelization was not discussed.
Knowing that I had not attended all of the 12 city conversations and interviews, I was beginning to wonder if anyone was also sharing the same concerns, or if I was simply at the wrong places at the wrong times, and my hyper-sensitivity was kicking in.
And then yesterday I read the following at the blog Koinonia, where upcoming, plenary speaker, Ajith Fernando, made the following statement on his thoughts regarding Cape Town 2010:
"The evangelical church faces some big challenges at this time. . . . Though Lausanne ’74 helped clarify the relationship between Social concern and evangelism, evangelism often gets sidelined or loses its place of supreme importance as the church responds to the plethora of social challenges it encounters today.
We need a return to the urgency of evangelism that comes out of a realistic understanding of the lostness of humanity apart from Christ and of the glory of the gospel. There are complaints that some recent high profile evangelical mission conferences, which previously had a high emphasis on the need to preach the good news to the lost, are now focusing so much on other issues that evangelism has become just an "also ran." Some fear that this will happen also in Lausanne III.
I am however hoping that out of Lausanne III will come a strong cry for commitment to and passion for evangelism, while at the same time challenging the church to engage in meeting some of the other challenges the human race faces. The horror of lostness of people apart from Christ is as serious now as it was before, and it is the greatest human need."
It is my hope that the speakers and leadership attached to Cape Town 2010 will read and heed Fernando’s words. He is exactly right here.
While the Church is called to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20), we must recognize that calling people to repentance and faith (Acts 20:21) is the first step in our obedience to our Lord’s commission. If evangelism is not intentional, evangelism will be replaced by a multitude of other important, albeit secondary, matters.
If Lausanne III is a congress on global evangelization, then I hope (and pray) with Fernando that evangelism will remain where it should be according to Lausanne I but most importantly according to the Scriptures.
What will Cape Town 2010 be known for? I don’t know. Ask me after the concluding events on October 25.