Why Global Conferences?
Understandably, a segment of the Christian world is getting tired of conferences, especially global conferences. They are asking a very pertinent question: "What is it that you are going to consider in the upcoming conference that has not been discussed in earlier gatherings?" And they are right. In terms of gaining new knowledge, it will be so small that it does not warrant the convening of yet another global conference. Then why is it that the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, in particular, is not just lending its name but actively supporting the holding of such conferences? For instance, the Global Consultation on World Evangelization 1997 in Pretoria, South Africa.
We give below the rationale for these conferences:
- The conference has to be global at regular intervals as the Gospel the Church preaches is universal. The Gospel meets a universal need (Isa. 48:22); recognizes a universal condition (Rom. 3:22-23); provides a universal prescription (Acts 4:12); offers a universal remedy (1 Jn. 1:7b) and extends a universal invitation (Rev. 22:17). The wider the challenge, the greater the company that will publish it and the greater the acceptance it will receive.
- Under God, small beginnings are productive of great ends. It is the principle of a grain of mustard seed in action (Mt. 13:31-32). Not surprising, therefore, that the 1966 Berlin Congress on World Evangelism has triggered off a series of these global meetings with a preponderance of them in the closing years of this decade, this century and this millennium.
- Knowledge of the universality of the Gospel has yet to be translated into acts of willing obedience. It is obvious that a large part of the Body of Christ are still sitting at ease, even though they have made personal professions of faith in Christ. Global conferences are a perennial reminder to the Church of its inescapable obligation to proclaim the Gospel (I Cor. 9:16)-- a means of "Calling the Whole Church to Take the Whole Gospel to the Whole World."
- The Church, by and large, has yet to graduate to people group thinking--that there are 1739 least evangelized peoples, each over 10,000 in population but less than 2% Christian; that the combined population of all Joshua Project 2000 peoples totals 2.2 billion individuals of which 85% live in the 10/40 Window. Local churches have to research these peoples through on-site teams, wherever possible; cover these in prayer, adopt them, send missionaries and tent-makers and pave the way for initiating a pioneer church-planting movement among them. Global conferences promote infectiousness as one group hears a report about the endeavors of another in reaching unreached peoples.
- There is an influential so-called Christian movement spreading far and wide advocating the philosophy of religious pluralism. It teaches that "Christians desire that a Hindu be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Buddhist a better Buddhist" and so on. Says this school of thought: "Salvation may be available to those outside the fold of Christ in ways we cannot understand, as they live faithful and truthful lives in their concrete circumstances and in the framework of the religious traditions which guide and inspire them." To them, Christ's horrible death was wholly unnecessary. Global Conferences on World Evangelization arrest effectively this kind of contamination, through publishing abroad the truth of man's lostness apart from Christ's saving grace.
- Global conferences are a practical demonstration of the fact of the corporate oneness of the Body of Christ--that unity in Christ transcends ethnic, social and sexual distinctions (Gal. 3:28); that our concerns and interests are identical (Acts 4:32); that we are willing to share our resources (Acts 4:32), to talk to each other (Mal. 3:16), and to work together (III Jn. 8).
- Global conferences show also the power of corporate witness. In his high-priestly prayer of John 17, the Redeemer prayed that the Church may be marked by the four qualities of truth (v.17), holiness (vv. 11, 15), unity (vv. 22-23) and mission (vv. 18, 21, 23). These four elements are woven together into a full-orbed whole. For example, unity at the expense of truth is both impossible and unscriptural. There is already an invisible bond that binds all genuine Christian believers, and their task is to make every effort to maintain the unity that is their present possession in Christ (Eph. 4:3).
To us is given the privilege of fulfilling Christ's petition that our unity would reflect the unity of the Godhead--all for the sake of the world believing that the Father had sent the Son and that the Father loves them and the Son (Jn. 17:21b, 23, 25). We will therefore gladly extend our right hand of fellowship to all those who believe in the basic tenets of "the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). We have embraced a simple philosophy that Philipp Melanchthon gave us over four centuries ago: "In Essentials, Unity; In Non-Essentials, Liberty; In All Things, Charity." The denominational labels do not trouble us. As long as all those associated with the AD2000 & Beyond Movement can subscribe unreservedly to the basics as outlined in the World Evangelical Fellowship Statement of Faith and the Lausanne Covenant, we will gladly use the forum of Global Conferences for challenging them to labor together in the areas of prayer, research, revival, evangelism, missions and church planting. Indeed the bonds that bind God's people are much stronger than the differences that divide us. Praise be to His name!