How can we make sure that the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering will move beyond theory and talk, to become a gathering that will bring collaborative action and commitment toward the Great Commission? The Planning Team has sincerely struggled with this question for the past three years.
A year and a half into the planning, the selection of participants was complete. Someone joked that if we had no programme at the YLG and simply brought these participants together in one place, we would see incredible fruit. This was also partly serious, as we witnessed the Father’s hand in the selection process to send us participants of character and humility, with exceptional potential and great willingness to be used by God for kingdom work. This is a unique combination that God continually uses throughout history.
Now, a little more than a week away from YLG2016, I’m convinced of God’s gracious and powerful work—beyond what we have dreamt—taking place in this generation. What makes me say that? In this year of preparation leading up to YLG, I have seen young influencers listening and learning from previous generations, and seeking to be mentored. At the same time, they have a strong desire to actively participate, to take what they have learned and received, and turn everything into practice. They are responding to God with the same attitude the people of Israel had when they told Joshua: ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go’ (Joshua 1:16). They are moving into new areas of ideas, issues, and collaboration—wherever the Lord is calling them.
This attitude is reflected in the words of a YLG2016 participant, Cameron Henrion, who launched a new community on Facebook for participants interested in Business as Mission. ‘I have been to or spoken at conferences that lacked a consistent movement afterwards. To have motion, there has to be a focused direction of some sort. So when we started, I basically asked if people wanted to just connect and learn about each other, or if we wanted to use this movement as a starting place for discussion.’
Cameron is currently running a business that has branches globally. This business is committed to God’s plan for an economy that is built on limitless resources, in contrast to man’s world of limited resources. He’s building this Facebook community and coming to YLG with specific goals in mind. ‘A certain amount of people will likely join this movement, and we will likely add groups in various nations even before YLG. And in August we can get face-to-face and define synergies within and outside of what “I” am doing to what “we” are doing.’
Another great example is from participant Jason Lee. Jason comes from a pastor’s family with significant experience in the tech world. He too saw an opportunity to partner with others and started a Facebook group called Faith + Technology. This community has the purpose of raising the awareness, adoption, and application of tech in the practice and sharing of our faith. This international group is moving into projects in faith and tech which could potentially be game-changers in global mission. He refers to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ ‘What if God is using technology to advance this?’ he asks.
Beyond movement in issue-specific areas, we are also seeing geographical cooperation activating and strengthening. For example, participants and Lausanne leaders in Australia have already had three national gatherings in preparation for YLG2016, followed by a national call led by the head of the Australian Lausanne Committee, Julie-anne Laird. In anticipation of the momentum coming out of the YLG, they have already scheduled a post-YLG meeting in November with the purpose of sharing the fruits from the gathering with their wider networks and looking ten years into the future for priorities in Australian re-evangelization.
So how can we be sure that YLG2016 won’t just be about theories and talk, but also moving in active collaboration toward fulfilling the Great Commission? I believe God has already started to answer our prayers and to reveal what he has in store for this generation in global mission. Please join me in praying to this end, and for YLG2016 in these final days of preparation.