The Meeting of the Century is announced
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)More than 400 plans exist among Christians to evangelize the world by the end of this century, and the authors of many of them will meet next January in southeast Asia to find ways to cooperate.
The Global Consultation on World Evangelization by A.D. 2000 and Beyond will be held January 5-8, 1989 in Singapore. The agenda is remarkably open-ended: many of the sessions will allow participants to interact and find out exactly what others are doing to carry out world evangelization.
Most historical attempts to evangelize the entire world have failed, mission researchers say, primarily because of disorganization, isolation, and competition among Christians themselves.
What's happening now is very different, especially in the last few years, said Thomas Wang, the Chinese chairman of the consultation's steering committee and International Director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. Wang was in Richmond, Virginia June 4-6, meeting with a small program committee to plan an agenda for the January world consultation.
All of a sudden it seems many of God's servants all over the world have begun to take the end of this century, not as a magical number, but as a target, a goal, a stimulation for world evangelization, Wang said. Is something happening? What is God trying to say to us? There has never been an age in the history of the church that is more qualified to tackle this task of world evangelization in terms of manpower, resources, technology, communications, and transportation.
The multitude of plans set to climax in the year 2000 include world strategies of the three biggest international gospel broadcasting agencies, Southern Baptists' Bold Mission Thrust, and Campus Crusade for Christ's New Life 2000, among hundreds of others.
Some are weak and some are inactive, Wang admitted. But some are really pushing forward, and among those active ones about 20 really have a global overview being actively pursued.
No single group is sponsoring the gathering. An informal steering committee of 12 international mission leaders met in Los Angeles May 18, coming from such agencies as the Lausanne Committee, World Vision, the 2-million-member Evangelical Churches of West Africa, the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, Partners International, Campus Crusade, and the U. S. Center for World Mission. They adopted five purposes for a proposed world Consultation:
1. To accelerate the growing interest, attention, momentum, and prayer in the Body of Christ for world evangelization by A.D. 2000.
2. To promote mutual encouragement and the exchange of information among denominations and agencies which are planning for world evangelization by A.D. 2000.
3. To promote cooperative efforts in world evangelization among those planning around the milestone of A.D. 2000.
4. To encourage denominations and agencies which have yet to set A.D. 2000 goals to set ones that are Biblical, measurable, and strategic.
5. To lay the foundation for further consultations to be held at later dates at the regional and national level.
Invitations to the consultation are going to key denominational, parachurch, and mission groups by region, continent, and movement, with an emphasis on full representation from the fast-growing Christian Church of the Third World and Southern Hemisphere.
We're trying our very best to say this movement has an international ownership, Wang stressed. The Third World must not feel this is something from the West alone. It is the whole Body of Christ that together has given birth to this movement, although God has used the Lausanne people and Southern Baptists and many others.
Another non-negotiable element is the primary importance of world evangelization itself, according to consultation program chairman Bill O'Brien of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.
We're saying very openly from the outset that the consultation is for those who already have plans or have shown a commitment to world evangelization, O'Brien explained. If you're going to debate whether world evangelization is valid or not, you would not feel comfortable at this meeting. So some may select themselves out. But they will do it; we won't. Erich Bridges