fpimage.jpg (14684 bytes) topnewarc.jpg (18624 bytes)


April 1988


Editorial Comment

The Momentous Question

Leadership '88: It's Time for a New Generation to Join Tegether

Leadership 88: Will Confusion Give Way to Cooperation?

Around the World

Can God No Longer Afford North American Missionaries?

Regional Mobilizers' Workshops Off to a Good Start!

Los Angeles '88: Heir Apparent to the Spirit of COMIBAM

Fred & Margaret Achenbach-- Pure Gold for the Kingdom

bar1.gif (57 bytes)


Leadership 88: Will Confusion Give Way to Cooperation?

About six months ago, thousands of younger, “‘emerging’ Christian leaders” around the U.S. began receiving packets of material inviting them to attend Leadership ’88, a Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE)-sponsored conference to be held June 27th through July 1st in Washington, DC.

Recipients’ responses ranged from dismay to anger to confusion.

The biggest item in the packet—an 8 1/2 by 11-inch blue, white, and black folder—boldly asked, “For five days next June, a select group of leaders will gather to guide the church into the 21st century. Will you be one of them?

“You have an opportunity to help shape an historic movement. . . . The time has come to rekindle the spirit of Lausanne in the hearts of a new generation.”

“. . . Over 2,200 men and women from across the country will be gathering . . . to consider the awesome changes that will sweep our planet in the century to come. And to begin to build the character and strategies they need to meet the challenges of world evangelization in the years ahead.”

Glandion Carney, Leadership ’88 chairman, wrote: “The shape of the church in the twenty-first century depends on your participation. . . . Together, we’ll begin to form new networks for completing the task of world evangelization.”

Too Costly
For the privilege of attending, recipients of this invitation were asked to invest $594, travel not included.

Thousands of young “emerging” Christian leaders tossed their invitations in the trash. As Grace Dyrness, director of Harbor House, an inner-city ministry in Oakland, California, put it: “I was aghast at the cost.” As chief fund-raiser for a small, mission-style agency, she simply could not justify the expense and so decided not to go.

“I thought, ‘When will (the Lausanne Committee) learn?’ It’s a repeat of Pattaya ’80” (a Lausanne-sponsored meeting held in Pattaya, Thailand). According to Dyrness, Pattaya exhibited total disregard for non-Western attendees in that it was held in “one of the most luxurious resort areas in east Asia”—albeit at a reduced cost.

Who’s it For? Not Me!
Finances were one problem. Another was confusion as to who actually was being addressed. The brochure’s vocabulary, filled as it is with words like “influential,” “important,” “leadership,” “leader,” “vanguard,” and “historic” (as in “historic meeting”), left many readers cold. “Who are they talking to?” they asked. “Certainly not me!”

One woman felt the brochure’s approach was “pure snob appeal.”

Others merely tend to think of themselves in other ways than as holding or aspiring to positions of power and influence.

Maria Henderson, administrative assistant to the Mission, Evangelism and Students Department at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Bel Air, California, said she is going to the conference, but not because she thinks of herself as a leader.

“I’m not sure inside myself that I’m really the kind of person they want. I mean, I could see other people I’ve worked with—Jay Gary (program director for the conference), Gordon Aeschliman (editor of World Christian magazine), and the like—going, but I don’t see myself in line to receive (the honor of being designated an emerging leader) . . . . Like Billy Graham is going to hand me something! ‘What? Who? Me?’”

Several of the conference’s organizers—personal friends of hers—have had to encourage her repeatedly that she really is the kind of person they think should attend. Yet still she wonders . . .

Dyrness said the program leaves out poor people (partially by its expense, but for other reasons too) and, for that reason, “it leaves me out. It isn’t aimed at the kinds of things I’m interested in or involved with.”

Further, she said she thought the brochure exhibited an insensitivity toward those who are not white, Anglo-Saxon, and male.

She criticized the fact that the conference is scheduled for Washington, DC: “I guess the organizers thought that city has the feeling of ‘leadership.’ . . . It’s not the kind of leadership I’m interested in.”

“They’re not hearing the voice of the very poor because there’s not a poor person on the (organizing) committee,” she philosophized. “And what about women?”

She pointed out that there is only one woman on either the Leadership ’88 Conference or Executive committees. There are only two ethnic minority members. “And they’re both black.” (“And I’m not even sure they can accurately represent the black community in the United States.”)

She called it all a case of tokenism: “It’s thinking in terms of ‘we’ve got to have representation from the women and the blacks.’ But it’s not thinking strategically.

“If there had been someone on the committee from the Mien and the Cambodian communities, and two, three or four from the Hispanic community, and a similar, proportional representation from among the Blacks and women—then you’d see a program truly representing the needs of the church.”

The High Cost is a Regrettable Mistake, But . . .
With respect to the cost of the conference, organizers are apologetic. It never should have been planned for Washington, DC. Concerning who the conference is for, however, . . . well, that’s another story.

Mike Aldrich, vice-chairman of the Leadership ’88 Committee, said he thinks the confusion arises from the name of the conference itself. He said that when the organizing committee had its first meeting, they spent half their time debating the meaning of “leader” and “leadership.” “

If I had it to do over, I’d do away with the name ‘leadership,’ ” he said. “The focus is not ‘leadership’ but ‘joining together.’ It’s a networking conference. The speakers, the plenaries, everything we’re doing is designed to promote involvement and activism on the part of the delegates.”

Pam NiCastro, women’s concerns coordinator and lay recruiter for the conference, said the use of the word “workshops” to describe the hour-and-a-half long afternoon sessions is also misleading.

“They won’t be one person making a pre-sentation. They will be very open-ended discussions. They will be panel-led and very dialog-oriented. Participants will bring their own stories and examples. We’ll have everyone involved. Even when talking about pastors, the panel will consist of laypeople and pastors, women, ethnics . . . .”

She noted that the schedule calls for free time immediately after the workshops. “That way, if people want to continue their discussions, they can.”

Yes, This Conference Is for You
In the end, Leadership ’88, like a large party, will be as good or bad, as helpful or unhelpful, as significant or insignificant as those who come make it. A host or hostess can have great plans; it’s the guests who make the difference. Said NiCastro: the greatest value of the conference will be found in “the participants, the dialog, and the networking.”

As important as the participants are to the final outcome of the program, however, Jay Gary, program director, said he is looking for several results from Leadership ’88.

1. Networking. As might be expected, foremost among his goals is networking between younger leaders. “Strategic relationships begun at Leadership ’88 must continue after the conference at various levels,” he said. “Among peers in common spheres of ministry. Within ethnic lines. Across ethnic lines. Between lay and pastoral leaders. . . . All must be done for the purpose of the Great Commission.”

2. Mobilizing. Besides networking, organizers want to see younger leaders mobilize their constituencies for world evangelization. Gary expressed it in terms of alumni of Leadership ’88 being “better equipped to lead their people toward practical involvement in world evangelization—whether by praying, giving or going.”

Eric Watt of AIMS (Association of International Mission Services) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, said his main purpose for going is to help mobilize the church. “Most conferences you go to, it’s just singing to the choir. The people you’re talking to are already interested in missions. At Leadership ’88, most of the people will have very little interest at all.”

Conference organizers are looking for a one-third/two -thirds mix in that regard: one-third mission enthusiasts, two-thirds people with only moderate to no interest in missions.

“I think their ambition of bringing together people who are over-educated with respect to missions and those who aren’t—that will create an interesting dynamic,” said Henderson.

3. Partnering between churches, agencies, and other institutions. “There needs to be increased cooperation between local churches and mission agencies; better relationships between mission agencies and national churches; and closer, coordinated working relationships with non-western mission agencies as we all seek to reach the unreached peoples,” said Gary.

He hopes that by the time they leave, Leadership ’88 alumni will be “more sensitive to the kind of strategic relationships needed between institutions and agencies if we are to effectively evangelize our world.”

4. Carrying On the Lausanne Tradition. Finally, someone—someones—must be found who are committed to carrying on the Lausanne tradition—people who are willing to “join together to fulfill the Great Commission.” The current leaders of the movement are in their late 60s and 70s.

Lausanne: Working Together for World Evangelization
Leighton Ford, speaking at the Lausanne Committee’s Senior Advisory Council in December 1986, said one of the greatest blessings of the Lausanne movement to him has been “talking and honestly sharing with each other, and praying together and understanding each other.” These are the things that the Lausanne movement, guided by the Lausanne Covenant, has stood for.

One of the primary goals of the Lausanne movement is to pursue unity in the body of Christ so that evangelical Christians, no matter what their giftedness or what their more specialized calling may be, may work together toward completion of the Great Commission.

Too often the Christian movement has been fragmented into competing camps: evangelists vs. missionaries; those more concerned with social justice vs. those concerned with family and home issues. Whatever the calling, whatever the gift, it’s been an occasion for battle. As the Lausanne Covenant proclaims, however, “. . . Our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our gospel of reconciliation.”

Unity Takes Work
Ford mentioned several situations where dialog and understanding—unity in the body—were achieved only at the cost of a great amount of time and emotional energy. For instance, he said, at the first Lausanne Committee meeting following the 1974 Congress, the discussion was so heated, the idea of continuing as a committee was almost killed before it started. “We almost had to go home.”

“A very significant Christian leader was in his room packing. He said, ‘I’m leaving. I don’t have time for all of this.’ I was 15 years younger than he was but I physically stopped him and said, ‘You are not going!’

“. . . Another fellow from Africa, with tears coming down his face, said, ‘I didn’t realize Christian leaders could be like this!’”

But, said Ford, “God met us there.”

“I saw Peter Wagner and John Stott sit down together and, with different cultural understandings, work through a statement of purpose and mission that has enabled (the Lausanne Committee) to stand together and say, ‘We are committed to the evangelization of the unreached peoples of the world. We are also committed to the total biblical mission of the church. It’s in that context that we carry out evangelization.’”

These experiences, Ford said, are what Lausanne is all about.

“. . . I think the vision (for Leadership ’88) is that God would give young men and women a vision for the world, new relationships with each other, and a deeper sense of commitment to be men and women of God.”

Dr. Arthur Glasser of Fuller Seminary has suggested there is a progression of interaction among Christians. Beginning with a base of communication, they can then move to fellowship, to cooperation and, finally, to association.

“We have to join together first in spirit and purpose,” said Gary. “Cooperation is several steps down the path.”

Diversity Among Participants
Conference organizers—the Lausanne Committee itself—envisioned from the start that Leadership ’88 should include a broad variety of participants. The Lausanne network, they felt, had to be expanded.

And so, by design, a quarter of all participants are expected to be women. A quarter will be from non-white ethnic groups. A third will be lay people. A third from para-church organizations. A third from churches. A third will be mission enthusiasts. Two thirds will have only moderate interest in missions.

And the purpose for this diversity? “To develop relationships across lines,” said NiCastro.

To those who wonder if they should come to Leadership ’88 because their personal or organizational concerns are not part of the agenda for the meeting, Leadership ’88 coordinators say it is precisely because of their concerns that they should come.

“As we approach the year 2000, there’s no way we’re going to see the kind of cooperation we need to complete the task of world evangelization unless we start communicating now,” said Gary.

“I think there’s going to be a fork in the road. We may face it in ’88 or ’92 or 2010, but we’ll have to face it. There are a lot of streams out there. The question is, will they come together to form a river? Are we going to be committed to calling the whole church to take the Gospel to the whole world? Or are we going to be going our separate ways?

“We’ve missed the opportunity in the past to create networks and relationships. Will we miss it again now?”

Preliminary indications are that Leadership ’88 may indeed succeed in bringing together representatives from diverse groups. Not merely into physical proximity with one another, but into personal and spiritual interdependence and involvement.

Women’s Concerns
Dyrness, having initially rejected the idea, has since decided to go to the conference. (A woman gave her $75 to cover the registration fee. “Your voice needs to be heard,” said the woman.). She made application and was invited to participate in a Women’s Dialog Weekend held in late February. The purpose of the weekend was to bring women together to discuss what issues they were concerned about and thought should be addressed at the main conference in June.

Conference organizers paid her way, Dyrness said, “and I thought it was a good opportunity to assess the situation and determine if God wanted me to go” to the main conference.

That weekend convinced her that the Leadership ’88 organizers were, indeed, interested in what she and others had to say, and they wanted to make changes as a result. The experience has given her higher hopes for June. High hopes and two reasons for going to the main meeting:

“First, to stand in solidarity with the issues we presented on that weekend. It’s my way of saying, ‘These are important issues.’

“Second, I realized (during the women’s weekend) that many, many women felt they had no adequate female role models for their lives.

“I feel God put me in a home with two very, very powerful female models: my grandmother—co-founder with my grandfather of Latin America Mission; and my mother, who followed in the footsteps of my grandmother. I go representing my grandmother and my mother—representing them to other women as role models.

“I also go representing Harbor House and our concerns as an organization.”

Ethnic Leadership Development
A similar pre-conference meeting was held for ethnic leaders last fall. Attendees included 102 emerging leaders and 20 senior leaders from 12 ethnic communities in the United States.

Rick Gray, ethnic leadership development coordinator for Leadership ’88, said the objectives for the meeting were 1) to help establish mentoring relationships between emerging and senior ethnic leaders; 2) to provide an introduction to world evangelization concerns; and 3) to provide opportunities for cross-ethnic networking.

By the time the two-day meeting was over, he said, “feedback suggests that it exceeded all expectations with regard to all three objectives.”

The participants came with mixed expectations, said Gray. “Some came desiring ethnic-specific groupings. Others wanted an opportunity to fellowship beyond their ethnicity. Initially, this caused the conference to be viewed with a sense of suspicion by some. Questions began to surface about hidden agendas or preconceived notions of cooperation.”

When the participants discovered that they were the ones who would determine the level of cooperation, “they took ownership of the conference and began breaking down barriers and walls.”

“You don’t realize what’s going on here,” said Nancy Clark, a mentor to Laotian and Cambodian immigrant communities in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “A real healing is taking place between groups that have been factionalized since their arrival in this country.”

“This is the first conference we’ve been in where we were allowed to be ourselves. We don’t feel as if anyone tried to use us,” declared John Maracle, an Assemblies of God pastor, chief of the Mohawk nation, and chief of the North American Native Christian Council.

Gray said participants at the meeting are now beginning to “tip-toe toward cooperation” with one another. Cooperation, however, is built on “trust and relationships.” Trust and relationships, in turn, are built on a foundation of communication. And communication—talking and listening—is what Leadership ’88 is all about.

Clark and Maracle provide two testimonies: maybe the Leadership ’88 theme—“joining together to fulfill the Great Commission”—is a feasible goal. Maybe Leadership ’88 will lead to cooperation. If the people who’ve been invited show up. And if they’re willing to listen.

bar.JPG (1889 bytes)


bar2.JPG (1819 bytes)