Ten days ago we concluded our international leadership meeting, a European leaders meeting, and 40th anniversary celebration near Lausanne, Switzerland, where the first International Congress on World Evangelization was held in 1974.
Amidst our prayer and collaborative planning for the future of Lausanne, we paused to remember and thank God for all that he has done in the past 40 years of the movement: launching mission strategies such as Unreached People Groups and holistic mission; birthing hundreds of networks and partnerships around critical mission issues; connecting leaders geographically, theologically, and generationally; and much more.
About twenty participants from the first Lausanne Congress in 1974 attended our anniversary celebration on Wednesday night. It was an honor to hear the unique stories of how God brought them to the Congress and the ways in which he impacted their lives and ministries through it. The animation and joy with which they spoke of the Congress carried the significance and excitement of that historic event afresh to the present.
We also heard about the impact of that Congress on the city of Lausanne. Today, churches and ministries from the city come together once a month in prayer, again connecting across denominational, ethnic, and generational lines.
European leaders from nearly 40 countries also joined us this week, focusing on the challenges and progress of evangelization across their continent. Though the challenges are many and complex, leaders from Albania, Slovenia, Germany, France, and others shared reports about God actively at work in the youth, among women, through evangelistic meetings and church planting.
One of the most powerful and moving moments of the week was having the privilege of joining our Ukrainian and Russian brothers in prayer as they knelt together, asking God to use this time of conflict as a unique opportunity to bear witness to Christ in both Ukraine and Russia.
As we reflected on and celebrated God’s work in the past, we also met to plan for the future. What will God do in the next 40 years of the movement? I saw a glimpse of this when I met with the Younger Leaders Team, who gathered from all regions of the world to plan the next Younger Leaders Gathering to be held in 2016. Seeing them was a representation of our hope not just for the event, but the larger hope for their generation across the globe to be connected for powerful impact in God’s mission today and in the future.
One of the younger leaders said that the most meaningful part of this week was meeting global leaders who embodied the ‘spirit of Lausanne’ as inherited from Billy Graham and John Stott—a spirit of humility, friendship, and wholehearted commitment to world evangelization. An important part of the movement’s future lies in the mentorship of emerging leaders by current leaders and the passing down of this ‘spirit’.
Another look to our future includes Mission China 2030, an initiative of the Chinese church to mobilize and send out 20,000 missionaries by 2030. As their gift to the global church, the Chinese church envisions sending out one missionary for every missionary received in their country.
We’re moving forward with greater clarity, enthusiasm, and unity. For the past eight months, we listened to past and present leaders on their thoughts and hopes of the future impact of the movement, and I had the opportunity to share these results during our time in Switzerland. Out of this process has emerged a much clearer way of expressing the who, what, and why of The Lausanne Movement, and I look forward to revealing more of these results this summer.
There is much to be thankful for and much to look forward to!
We declare again the call from the 1974 Congress—Let the earth hear his voice! 40 years ago and now, we commit to collaborate globally for the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ to all nations.
Till the whole earth hears his voice,
Till the trumpet sounds,
Till every people group on earth knows his salvation,
Let’s labor on.