“THE TABLE GROUPS MAKE A LARGE CONGRESS FEEL INTIMATE.”
– CAPE TOWN 2010 PARTICIPANT
“Global diversity was an experiential reality as table groups responded to Scripture together and share their reactions to key issues.”
– Christianity Today, Dec. 2010
One of the most striking features of Lausanne’s 3rd Global Congress was its use of small groups. Each participant was assigned to a group of six by common language. These groups sat together around small rectangular tables every morning. In the midst of the plenary sessions, time was given for the table groups to study Scripture, to share personal experiences, to discuss presentations, and to pray.
For most, Table Groups were the highlight of Cape Town 2010. They provided the opportunity to build meaningful relationships. Participants were helped to truly listen to one another across geographic, denominational, and gender differences. A remarkable amount of pastoral care was exchanged. Mutual learning deepened the impact of the platform presentations.
Table Groups gave Cape Town 2010 a wonderful ethos:
Cape Town 2010 was designed to engage the global church around topics such as truth, reconciliation, integrity, and partnership. Table Groups enabled participants to live out those themes in the present and not just learn about them from outstanding speakers. Furthermore, the experience of Table Groups resonated with themes from Ephesians (the centrality of the international church in God’s redemptive plan, unity, reconciliation, walking in the light, right relating, etc).
Embracing the practical implications and facing the costs makes the difference between a vision articulated and a vision realized. Inherent limitations of time, money, space, and personnel require prioritizing (at times) competing objectives and values. There are a few key components that made the Table Groups at Cape Town 2010 effective.
Something powerful is made possible when God's people are helped to listen well to one another, grapple with the Scriptures, and discuss important issues together. Adequate time and physical space are essential for fostering the kind of meaningful interactions that the Table Groups at Cape Town 2010 provided. Many participants at Cape Town 2010 expressed interest in using this approach in other conferences or church settings. We hope that in highlighting these crucial factors, the Table Groups experience can be reproduced in the broader Lausanne Movement.
Did you participate in a Table Group at Cape Town 2010? If so, how did it impact your experience at
*This team should be brought onto the programme team early in the planning process.
Lindsay Olesberg directed the daily inductive Bible studies at Cape Town 2010. She works with the Missions Department of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.