This is an article from the January-February 2011 issue: Discipleship Revolution

Lausanne, Cape Town 2010

Lausanne, Cape Town 2010

I'm sure millions of words have been written about the third Lausanne congress, held in October in South Africa. My friend and co-worker Paul Emery (who is starting a Center for World Mission in Gainesville, FL) was there as a steward on the 'data-mining' team sifting through massive amounts of information coming from the event and from Web postings globally, not to mention other sources.

When you have 4,000 delegates/observers, 1,200 stewards, and hundreds of GlobalLink sites, you certainly have a range of opinions to consider.

I was able to observe the event with seven others in the Statement Working Group, who, like the full range of congress participants, were from around the world. The group, led by Chris Wright, produced the Cape Town Commitment. Part one was produced before the event. We are still working on the second part as I write this.

Seeing the event, often from a room with video feed, meant that we could interact with each other, then spread out to daily multiplexes, meals, seminars and discussion forums and come back to debrief. It helped me in thinking through issues and the focus of various sessions. We realized that we were trying to see and hear this event for everyone.

So what was the focus?

One way of describing it, in bullet points, would be to say that we in the global, evangelical Church need to:

  • Deal with spiritual weakness within. Not only is there Bible 'poverty' both within the Church and among the least reached, but those who have the Bible and use it donít fully obey, which leads to the second point.
  • Take seriously our commitment to Christ. For too many, faith doesnít match actions. Truth, Reconciliation, Integrity, Partnership; these were some of the themes at Cape Town.
  • Confront the issues of our time in a much broader way than we have. These include human trafficking, poverty, environmental; it is a long list.
  • Deal with the remaining frontiers of the gospel, where there is no viable church and little or no effective witness.

These were highlighted during two days in various ways.

The conference sought to model a way for believers to get into the Word and to get the Word out! By starting each day in small groups in the study of Ephesians, the underlying message demonstrated the significance of being in the Word. All 4,000 participants were around small tables in every main (plenary) session. Everyone was encouraged to read through and study Ephesians ahead of time. After study and discussion, someone presented on the section of the day for 20 minutes or so, then it was back into groups for application and prayer.

You could hear in the verbal and dramatic presentations, and in the videos, a clear underlying theme to each day: a call to serious discipleship. Many would say, 'Good, but was that a surprise?' No.

John Stott, a foundational figure in the Lausanne movement, wrote his farewell book on this subject: Radical Disciple (InterVarsity Press). The last issue of Mission Frontiers highlighted the book Radical by David Platt. In this issue we pick up lessons on discipleship from people like Avery Willis and Jim Downing.

But the question remains: Can we do it? Will we?

What will it take to see people walking by faith rather than by sight?

Living (or walking) by faith is part of it. But not walking by sight seems wholly other. Most of us canít imagine not being able to seeóespecially in our visual world with instant information and opportunities all around. But isnít that what we are talking about here?

So I'll close with the questions Dawson Trotman used each day of his life: "Why am I doing what I am doing?" And "Why am I doing it the way I am doing it?"

He was not trying to be creative merely for creativity's sake. He was trying to get past patterns that might lead to dependence on his own gifting and ministry experience, or that might lead him away from a life of faith and 'disable' him from hearing from the Lord in any moment.

Why not discuss those questions and your life patterns (good, bad and indifferent)with your family or small group? Let me know how it goes.


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