I recently returned from the Lausanne’s 2006 Younger Leaders Gathering which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. To be in one place with followers of Christ from 110 nations, was a privilege. Rarely have I had the opportunity to meet, hear stories and learn from such a racially and ethically diverse group.
Paul Steinke, Chris Keller (The Other Journal) and I traveled together both to the conference and back again; and our times of processing what we were hearing and experiencing was more than worth the price of admission.
There are a number of descriptions of the event; lyg06blog, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, and Sivin Kit 1, 2, 3.
Having studied with both TV Thomas and Robert Coleman I’d heard many Lausanne stories and was familiar with both the Lausanne Covenant and the Manila Manifesto prior to the last week’s gathering.
One of the phrases used throughout the conference was, “The whole church, bringing the whole gospel, to the whole world.” Ramez Atallah, who was one of the plenary speakers and the person chairing the programming portion of the congress in the works for 2010 was the first person from the front to challenge Lausanne’s use of the phrase. Ramez suggested that to be more accurate the Lausanne network represents “the whole evangelical church” at best, as Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox voices not well represented. Later, during a meeting of delegates interested in further theological engagement, the concern around the assumed meaning of “whole church,” “whole gospel” and “whole world” was brought up. Concern over the term “evangelical” was also highlighted as the term has morphed significantly since this network was formed.
From my perspective, a number of important issues current in missional work were scarcely given time: America’s abuse of power, postmodern critiques of power, contextual theology, mission in a post-Christendom era, the gift post-colonialism, let alone issues of globalization, and the exportation of capitalism.
Now the question I’m wrestling with is, “what, if any, role do I play with the Lausanne network of the future?”
I don’t have a solid response yet; it’s a significant network and the possibilities for it to serve, connect, and resource is unique.
There is so much more I could say, but for now . . .