The Great Commission Roundtable:
One More Step Towards De-Fragmentation
A perspective on recent progress in the globalization of partnership.
Three international movements have dominated the landscape of global mission in the last decade--the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization, the AD2000 Movement and the World Evangelical Fellowship. Sadly, participation in these networks has tended to divide the allegiances and drive the Christian mission world in difference directions.
It was the efforts of some keen leaders (including the leadership of all three of these movements) who first met together in Oslo, Norway (MF News, March 1999) that some substantial progress has been made to enhance efforts to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Most recently (March 29-31) a group of 15 international mission leaders met outside of Los Angeles in the foothills of Monrovia.
In a welcome move to make this joint effort easier to communicate, the Great Commission Global Roundtable--or GCGR as it was earlier called, was made more simply the GCR--The Great Commission Roundtable. Maybe what is most significant about the picture that the GCR is painting is actually what it isn't: It is not a picture of the body of Christ fragmenting. It is not of picture of one group looking at the other with skepticism, asking, "Who are you?" It is not one group saying to the other, "I am more important than you are."
The GCR is an attempt to work together. It is a picture of how partnership can work on a global scale. The Roundtable could be compared to King Arthur's Court where equality is evident and true partnership is being worked out between the nations--without assumptions of the First World, Second World and Third World. It is a picture of recognizing the importance of working together and exercising the Biblical truth that "they shall be one as we are one" (John 17: 22).
The GCR's effort at partnership development is a pointed effort to focus on the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This is a very welcome move. In the world mission scenario, it has become the bonding factor of these three giants that could have easily gone on pulling and dividing the loyalties of Christians on the basis of secondary doctrines, different philosophies and the funding strings that are attached to the foundations of different ministries.
The dream of the GCR is to become an international community of networks, an energizing force for world evangelism: geographically inclusive, welcoming, coalescing around shared values, connecting existing networks through bridge-building, cooperating with shared vision, interdependent, integrated, flexible, building relationship and trust across the world with different communities, sharing news, research and communicating the "best practices in missions."
A general goal that was expressed in the Los Angeles meeting, a goal to be pursued over the next five years: To stir the churches--evangelical, mainline and historical--to catch the vision for world evangelism which is the glory of the fullness of the body of Christ experienced by more people throughout the world. We seek to listen and distill from the entire body of Christ what the Lord is doing, especially from those who are very experienced but seldom heard; facilitating a network of networks and providing a forum to enhance all the above.
The participants will be in touch with each other about the progress in all these, with another meeting set tentatively for next April at Kualalumpur--concurrent with the WEF gathering.
There is a need to encourage the participation of any additional networks--and to help these networks to network with others. This will enhance the effects of what is being done in carrying out the Great Commission. Thus we, the participants, pledged to identify and encourage networks in their regions.
The participants realized that the need is not for big, centralized structures to run these efforts. Rather, there was a conviction to continue encouraging networks to meet and dialogue. The gathering of GCR is a welcome step forward toward the fulfilling of the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ in a corporate manner. If this spirit catches on, then all should encourage their networks to be pursue this joint work of the body of Christ.