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July 1988


Editorial Comment

What Happened at LEADERSHIP 88?

You Will Have to See it to Believe it!

The Meeting of the Century is Announced

The Zwemer Institute. A Story Waiting to be Told.

Christians and the New World Order.

The Year 2000 and Bolivia's 65% Unreached

Retired? We've Got a Job for You!

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What happened at LEADERSHIP ’88?

The Enigma of LEADERSHIP ’88
Why was it an enigma? It was not an enigma to the 1600 who attended. And I am sure it was perfectly clear and logical to those who so efficiently ran it. It was a truly beautiful and marvelous week, filled with excitement and rich spiritual adventure. Ken Medema was fantastic. So also Graham Kerr.

It was an enigma only to me, perhaps, or to anyone who is clearly beyond the groping age of career confusion, who is not a child of this present generation (at this conference I was labeled ‘older generation’), and who does not share all the nuances and hopelessness of our time. (I should say “of the West” now that Sanneh has given us new perspective.)

Yes, those who ran LEADERSHIP ’88 knew exactly what they were doing, I’m sure. Their boldest move (after people got there, note) was to hoist a great banner that said “Joining Together to Fulfill the Great Commission.” Otherwise the people they did attract might have stayed home. It was not exactly what you would call a mission-minded bunch of younger leaders. These younger people have been brought up not to be led but to lead, and they are still hoping to find out how that works.

They are eager to take over—take over from the older generation. Only a few of them have discovered that the fastest path to power lies in joining the oldies rather than bypassing or out-maneuvering them.

Indeed the week, for me, was profoundly disturbing, for it pulled me out of my usual sphere of contacts and introduced me to the grim reality of the average church leader’s almost total exclusion of the great realities I think about night and day. What do I mean? I’ll tell you if you don’t take this as a criticism of a conference that was carefully designed for its intended audience and, as such, was an accurate barometer of where we are in the U.S. today. OK? Here goes:

In the exhibit room not a single normal mission sending agency was represented. I guess they understood who was coming.

Among the plenary speakers I do not recall a single mission executive or mission statesman.

Most astonishing, there was very little if any recognition of the amazing growth and power of the Christian movement all over the earth, from the Soviet Union to Singapore, from Samoa to Zanzibar. In other words, this audience was clearly not well prepared to be exposed to either the mighty works of God all over the globe, nor the mighty instruments of God in the form of the world’s 3,000 mission agencies. They couldn’t have gained a clear impression of the concrete, growing enterprise that is actually doing the work of world evangelization right now. Whom, then, will they join?

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