Wednesday – 2004 Forum Daily Update

2004 FORUM BEGINS WITH A BANG

Daily updates were made throughout the 2004 Forum in Pattaya, Thailand. These updates were made available online as well as in print to the forum participants. They have been made available on the Lausanne website to convey the progression of thought and events at the 2004 Forum. In addition, a Daily Blog was posted online, providing one individual’s personal reflections throughout the Forum. A number of Photos from the Forum have been made available online as well.

2004 FORUM BEGINS WITH A BANG
by Naomi Frizzell, LCWE Director of Communication

The 2004 Forum opened Wednesday night with a taste of Thai culture from the Royal Cliff Beach Resort kitchen and the Thai Christian Community. While enjoying a dinner of wonderful Thai food, Forum participants experienced poignant performances by the Thai Classical Orchestra, Christian school choirs and Thai traditional dancers.

Forum Program Chair Mrs. Robyn Claydon officially opened the Forum with the Thai custom of cutting a ribbon of flowers and banging a gong. Participants then joined in praise and worship songs led by Mr. Dave Pope.

Dr. Paul Cedar, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization Executive Chair, told the gathering that “we have come together from the North, South, East and West” to participate in the Forum “under the leadership and lordship of Jesus Christ.” Dr. Cedar emphasized that the Forum is not just a Lausanne conference but one where every international network of Christian leaders was invited to participate. More than 1,500 leaders from around the world are here at the Forum—representing nearly 130 countries and 58 languages. Rev. David Ruiz, International Coordinator of the Great Commission Roundtable, encouraged the participants to “share, learn and dialogue” as they experience “A new vision, a new heart and a renewed call.”

While unable to attend the Forum, Rev. Gary Edmonds of the World Evangelical Alliance sent a message of encouragement. Rev. Edmonds referred to the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Rev. Edmonds stressed that “We are committed to take the gospel far – to the ends of the earth. Therefore, we must go together.”
Keynote speaker for the evening, Dr. Roger Parrott, 2004 Forum Chair, urged participants to catch hold of the fresh wind of the spirit. He acknowledged that it takes certain skills “to sail where God leads us.”

Dr. Parrott stated this willingness is expressed by six benchmarks: unwavering trust; outward vision; constant preparation; gentle patience; navigational sensitivity; and complete effort. Much like the global weather patterns, he said, this wind is interconnected around the world in ways that we don’t understand or often see, starting with a slight breeze that becomes so strong it topples everything in its path.

Dr. Parrott reminded participants that this same wind of the Spirit blew at Pentecost, blew again at Lausanne 1974 and can once again blow across the 2004 Forum. He concluded by saying that the wind will blow here in Thailand if participant’s sole desire is to live, work and relate to each other at the 2004 Forum in a way that catches the wind of God.

Mrs. Vonette Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, International, offered prayers for God’s guidance for participant discussions and for the long-term impact of the Forum on global evangelization.

Today Issue Groups begin their face-to-face meetings—seeking to prayerfully complete the development of their issue-specific strategic plan.

4 1/2 Years In The Making!
By Dr. Peter Brierley, Lausanne 2004 Research Chair

LIFTING UP CHRIST
Why another Lausanne Forum, as this “event” is called? Very simply, so that the Kingdom of God may grow throughout the earth and the name of Jesus Christ be exalted. Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all to me”; the primary goal of this Forum is to do exactly that.

It was April 2000 that the Lausanne Administrative Committee agreed to recommend to the full Lausanne International Committee that another “event” be held. It was to be similar in scope and type to that held in 1980, also in Pattaya, Thailand. The International Committee readily endorsed the proposal, and thousands upon thousands of hours in preparatory work began.

Much has changed since the formative Lausanne in Switzerland 30 years ago. The Lausanne Covenant was created during that 1974 gathering, largely crafted by Rev. Dr. John Stott. It almost immediately made a huge impact on the thinking and actions of Christian people and continues to influence evangelical thinking. The fifth section of the Covenant, for example, declares “evangelism and social-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty.”

Applying the implications of the Christian faith to today’s world is still a major challenge. Some of the more noticeable changes since Lausanne include post-modernity, the AIDS epidemic and relaxing sexual morality, the noticeable decline of First World Christianity, the massive increase in Third World debt, the all-encompassing Internet, the huge dominance of the media, the ever-increasing numbers of displaced people and the increasing fragmentation of family life.

CORE MOTIVATION
The core motivation for holding the 2004 Forum was the desire to bring together the best of Christian-world thinking, drawn from every continent, spurred on by the Spirit of Christ in order to think deeply and creatively about Christian principles and Biblical values at the start of a new millennium for the benefit of the worldwide church.
But what were the key issues? A few have just been stated, but are these really the ones to which priority attention should be given? A survey of senior leadership throughout the world took place in 2002. Those surveyed were leaders of major denominations (including Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian Bishops and senior ministers, a number of key Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops and Independent leaders), leaders of international Christian agencies and groups, and Principals of Christian Colleges. Each of these was sent a simple form asking for up to five issues that they would regard as key for world evangelization in the 21st century. The results provided the basis for the topics of the 30+ Issue Groups being discussed in this Forum.

The process after choosing the topics was to think through the aims of each Issue Group and then select conveners and facilitators. Invitations were sent worldwide asking people to register their interest in a given topic. Two guiding principles were quickly established about the outcome of each Group: it must be practical; and it must clearly relate to evangelism. This Forum is not an abstract academic think-tank,  important as these sometimes are. It’s aim is to help advance the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

ISSUE GROUP STAGES
So how will the process work? There are a number of stages for each Issue Group:

  • Identify the key topics for consideration within the subject.
  • Decide which of these topics are to be included in the final paper.
  • Assign these topics to individuals or groups within each Issue Group “team,” some have done this formally by appointing “stream” leaders, other Groups have worked more informally.
  • However the work was divided, the initial thinking on the different topics has to be worked out and written down (in most cases electronically).
  • These different contributions then have to be merged into one paper.
  • That initial paper then requires its first edit and revision where necessary. This may sound a simple process but the reality is that it can take many hours of detailed work.
  • The process of the first edit and revision are likely to highlight areas where additional work is required.
  • Once this additional work is done, each Issue Group will be in a position to complete its interim draft paper.
  • The Synergy Groups will allow involvement with other Issue Groups considering related topics; such peer review could lead to further revision, before one reaches the final step …
  • Production of the final paper. Phew!

PROCESS QUESTIONS
To help smooth this process the Forum Committee (a sub-division of the Administrative Committee) has developed questions that may be helpful for you and your Issue Group to consider:

  • For consideration on Friday, 1st October—“What are the key problems emerging in this Issue?”
  • Saturday’s question then follows: “What solutions are being proposed for these problems?”
  • “What strategies are being suggested for these solutions?”
  • Hopefully by Monday each Issue Group will be in a position to start answering the next question: “What are the key findings emerging from all the work of your Issue Group?”
  • The final question then follows: “What are the resources needed to implement the identified strategies?”

Different Issue Groups will progress through their work at different speeds. Some have come to the Forum having been able to start work many months ago and have completed more than others. But each Issue Group needs to produce a final report by the close of Monday, 4th October, before the Forum’s final day, when the whole process will be looked at collectively.

So what will this week hold? Much work, yes. Much energy to be expended, yes. Much joy in the many opportunities for fellowship, yes. Much prayer for wisdom, yes. But, above all, an enormous privilege to work together for what we all trust will become a vital contribution to the evangelization of the world by the church in the decades ahead. May it be so, for His glory!

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