Ten years ago, almost 1,000 delegates from 73 countries got together for the Tokyo 2010 conference. In this issue we look back over the last ten years to see what impact this meeting has had on the course of world evangelization and answer the legitimate question of “Why does Tokyo 2010 still matter today?” Is it really possible that a meeting of 1,000 mission and church leaders could actually be making a difference 10 years later? That is what we want to look at in this issue and to take note of what God has done over the last 10 years and see what still remains to be done. In the midst of the worldwide coronavirus situation, Editor Rick Wood reminds us that when a viral pandemic infects the world, bringing fear and isolation, we need the viral spread of trained disciple-makers and church-planters to spread the love of Jesus to a world in chaos. God is hard at work despite our uncertainties and has a plan of hope for our future. See all the articles
As I write, the world is reeling from the effects of the coronavirus. Stock markets are plummeting, restaurants, hotels and schools are closing and churches are canceling services. Mission organizations are postponing or cancelling conferences. President Trump has declared a national state of emergency. Whole countries like Italy, France and Spain are on lockdown. The world is hunkering down, hoping this “angel of death” will pass by their door. With growing travel restrictions and spreading quarantines, the global mission enterprise is being forced to rethink business as usual. In times like these we need a Church that is prepared for the worst.
The Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation was a watershed moment in mission history. The Tokyo Declaration, a product of that consultation, took what had occurred up until that time and what was occurring then, and put it into context. Discipleship became a focused commitment with an evolving understanding of what discipleship really looks like on personal and corporate levels. Before 2010 few were talking about “discipleship” as a core task in missions. Today there has been a proliferation of attention given to it.
The Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation, held May 11-15, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan was a celebration of the past and an embracing of the future. The event was hosted by the Japanese Church and sponsored jointly by Asia Mission Association, Cross Global Link, Global Network of Mission Structures and Third World Mission Association. A total of 967 delegates, representing 73 countries, attended. Another 927 observers from Japan joined and approximately 550 Japanese volunteers served participants. Approximately 75% of all participants came from African, Asian, Latin American and Pacific nations.
We are now 10 years removed from the Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation which took place in May of 2010. On the final day of that consultation, 1000 international delegates took the decisive step of adopting the Tokyo Declaration as a basis for ongoing networking and collaboration. The intent of this Declaration from its inception was not to be a stagnant document, but rather the dynamic basis on which Great Commission activities and collaboration would take place. It is therefore appropriate that the Declaration be revisited with key portions highlighted as we commemorate the consultation’s anniversary.
In 2010, I spoke at the Global Mission Consultation in Tokyo. I presented initial thoughts on the “State of the Unfinished Task.” Ten years after the Global Consultation, it is appropriate to revisit our ideas and ask how we are doing, in the Global Church, with making disciples in every people group as well as presenting the Good News of the gospel to every person. The commands of Jesus to His disciples and to us that we call the Great Commission are the basis for this inquiry.
Consultation focused on reaching the remaining least reached peoples. The Tokyo Declaration1 made it clear that we have the material resources and funding to reach those peoples. Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization provided a global forum in which evangelical leaders explored issues facing global mission. The Cape Town Commitment2 called for “self-sacrifice and generous giving as the marks of true discipleship to Christ;” interdependence in giving and receiving; and “personal compassion, respect and generosity towards the poor and needy.” But did Tokyo 2010 and Cape Town 2010 impact mission giving?
In 2010, I came to Tokyo from Nigeria to participate in the Global Missions Consultation with 1000 leaders from around the world. Through it, I gained a better perspective of the Great Commission, the unfinished task, and the many avenues through which God is gathering His harvest. I met several global missions movement leaders, whom I had only heard of “by the hearing of the ear” (to use Job’s expression). I made collaborative connections that still continue today.
Ten years have passed since the Unreached Peoples Intercession Task Force paper was released in Tokyo, outlining the state of prayer for Unreached People Groups around the world, and proposing strategies to accelerate progress in reaching, discipling and seeing transformation among these. The task force not only worked but prayed. Ten years later, it is clear that God heard and responded!
My plenary messages at Tokyo 2010 addressed one of Ralph Winter’s classic 12 “frontiers” of mission, one that he referred to as “Beyond Christianity.” This frontier comprised movements towards Jesus taking place outside the borders of widely recognized, authentic, biblical Christianity. Winter’s examples included African independent (or indigenous) churches, Jesu Bhakta (Jesus devotees in India), and later, followers of Isa among Muslim peoples. By 2010, these phenomena had been observed for some time but remained off the radar for many mission leaders. However, since then, awareness, controversy, books, articles and conferences have increased. And, the number of such movements has grown (as have the movements themselves in many cases).
The General Secretary of India Missions Association (IMA) in 2010, Rev. Susanta Patra, selected me to be part of a delegation of IMA mission leaders and encouraged me to attend the Global Missions Consultation in Tokyo. When we arrived at the conference venue, leaderscultural dress welcomed us. It gave our whole delegation an instant sense of the diversity of God’s people and the scope of what we would be part of in the days to come. The sessions informed and challenged me. Presentations and discussions about global evangelism, discipleship, and Unreached People Groups helped me to think differently about mission strategies. The consultation vision “Making Disciples of Every People in OurGeneration” rings in my ears to this day. The space for networking with mission leaders, practitioners and champions helped me to build relationships that proved valuable even after the event. And, the announcement of the Tokyo Declaration provided a unifying statement to unite every follower of Christ to obey the Great Commission.
Welcome to this edition of Mission Frontiers, which looks back at the Tokyo 2010 Conference and asks, “what has developed since then?” Before I say more on Tokyo 2010, I am aware that many of our readers were aware that plans were underway for a Tokyo 2020 conference. Given the realities of the COVID-19 crisis, that has been cancelled. While our focus here is looking back to 2010, I wanted to be sure we didn’t fail to mention this. Back to my question, “what has developed since 2010?” In a world of conferences and publications and great speeches this is a fair question, and each article in this edition seeks to give an update. Each is written by the same person who spoke and wrote on the same topics back in 2010.
Over 1,035 Church Planting Movements (rapidly multiplying groups that have surpassed four generations of church planting in multiple streams) have been documented. Together, they comprise over 73 million believers in over 4.3 million churches. When people hear this fact, they often ask: how are they counted? One implication of this question is, are they counted in a way that others can accept as credible? As a basis for an answer, let’s begin with a broader question: how do Christian denominations, in general, count their members? How, for example, do denominations in America count?
No matter your view of globalization and its influence on the world, there is no question that many major (and some minor) events ripple around the world. Two that have been in the global news recently are the coronavirus and the death of Kobe Bryant. As I write, we are just beginning to see the downstream economic impact of China’s handling of the coronavirus. Factories that shut down there have impacted supply line and production around the world. Even as the death of Kobe Bryant fades in the minds of some, many have been profoundly impacted by his life. He was their hero.
When first married, I was a terrible cook. A friend of my mom gave us a Betty Crocker Cookbook as a wedding gift. I used it for years. It’s still in my kitchen drawer, looking like it’s been through World War Two with crumpled edges and soiled pages. Full of easy recipes, it will take you step-by-step through the process needed to make a wonderful entree or dessert. Read the directions, follow the steps, and voila…something delicious to eat was on the table. Starting a Disciple Making Movement isn’t like following a recipe. I wish there were a few simple steps we could follow and out pops a movement. It’s not that easy. There are a host of recipes out there to compare. They may or may not lead to a movement in your location. Don’t get fixated on the DMM recipe. Starting movements is not about methods or formulas. Movements start through people.
Seeing ourselves as part of a missions ecosystem equips leaders to effectively navigate and collaborate in today’s Great Commission context. We have entered a crucial period in the progress of the Great Commission, which will be marked by uncertainty, complexity and the inability to predict or respond to overwhelming changes in our world. The global Church and its missions movements are vast, complex, and diverse. Acting with biblical commitment in this complicated situation requires individual and collective wisdom. In this new decade, participating in collaboration will be essential, and it will change missionary work. This next missional environment requires reinterpreting how missions organizations and churches from everywhere fit into a larger context, and knowing how these parts can behave, connect and interact better with each other.
I met with the planning team during the 2010 Global Mission Consultation in Tokyo and shared my belief that if we gather, plan, strategize, assemble great resources, and conduct accurate research, but fail to mobilize local churches worldwide, we will fail to do the Great Commission. We recognized then that mobilizing the whole Church to reach the whole world was our greatest opportunity. Ten years later, this remains our goal.
“We started to teach four men about business,” explained a Malawian apostolic worker. “One of them was Andres (pseudonym), a seeker. We shared the section in the training about our strengths and weaknesses. The next day they shared what they have learned and [Andres] shared that he was missing something. He doesn’t have a purpose, and he wants to know more. We shared about salvation, how to repent and meet Jesus. He wanted to learn more about salvation. He wanted to repent! We prayed for him and talked about baptism with him.”