A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action
© 2011 The Lausanne Movement. This document may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. The text should remain unchanged and an acknowledgement to The Lausanne Movement should be included. For publishing rights in English or in translation, email [email protected]. A published version of The Cape Town Commitment is also available.
The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town, 16-25 October 2010) brought together 4,200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries, and extended to hundreds of thousands more, participating in meetings around the world, and online. Its goal? To bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching – in every nation, in every sphere of society, and in the realm of ideas.
The Cape Town Commitment is the fruit of this endeavour. It stands in an historic line, building on both The Lausanne Covenant and The Manila Manifesto. It is in two parts. Part l sets out biblical convictions, passed down to us in the scriptures, and Part ll sounds the call to action.
How was Part l shaped? It was first discussed in Minneapolis in December 2009, at a gathering of 18 invited theologians and evangelical leaders, drawn from all continents. A smaller group, led by Dr Christopher J H Wright, chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group, was asked to prepare a final document, ready to be presented to the Congress.
How was Part ll shaped? An extensive listening process began more than three years before the Congress. The Lausanne Movement’s International Deputy Directors each arranged consultations in their regions, where Christian leaders were asked to identify major challenges facing the Church. Six key issues emerged. These (i) defined the Congress programme and (ii) formed the framework for the call to action. This listening process continued on through the Congress, as Chris Wright and the Statement Working Group worked to record all contributions faithfully. It was a herculean and monumental effort.
The Cape Town Commitment will act as a roadmap for The Lausanne Movement over the next ten years. Its prophetic call to work and to pray will, we hope, draw churches, mission agencies, seminaries, Christians in the workplace, and student fellowships on campus to embrace it, and to find their part in its outworking.
Many doctrinal statements affirm what the Church believes. We wished to go further and to link belief with praxis. Our model was that of the Apostle Paul, whose theological teaching was fleshed out in practical instruction. For example, in Colossians his profound and wonderful portrayal of the supremacy of Christ issues in down-to-earth teaching on what it means to be rooted in Christ.
We distinguish what is at the heart of the Christian gospel, ie primary truths on which we must have unity, from secondary issues, where sincere Christians disagree in their interpretation of what the Bible teaches or requires. We have worked here to model Lausanne’s principle of ‘breadth within boundaries’, and in Part l those boundaries are clearly defined.
All through this process we were delighted to collaborate with the World Evangelical Alliance who partnered with us in each stage. The leaders of the WEA are in full agreement with both the Confession of Faith and the Call to Action.
While we speak and write from the evangelical tradition in The Lausanne Movement, we affirm the oneness of the Body of Christ, and gladly recognize that there are many followers of the Lord Jesus Christ within other traditions. We welcomed senior representatives from several historic churches of other traditions as observers in Cape Town, and we trust The Cape Town Commitment may be helpful to churches of all traditions. We offer it in a humble spirit.
What are our hopes for The Cape Town Commitment? We trust that it will be talked about, discussed and afforded weight as a united statement from evangelicals globally; that it will shape agendas in Christian ministry; that it will strengthen thought-leaders in the public arena; and that bold initiatives and partnerships will issue from it.
May the Word of God light our path, and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us.
S Douglas Birdsall
As members of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ, we joyfully affirm our commitment to the living God and his saving purposes through the Lord Jesus Christ. For his sake we renew our commitment to the vision and goals of The Lausanne Movement.
This means two things:
First, we remain committed to the task of bearing worldwide witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching. The First Lausanne Congress (1974) was convened for the task of world evangelization. Among its major gifts to the world Church were: (i) The Lausanne Covenant; (ii) a new awareness of the number of unreached people groups; and (iii) a fresh discovery of the holistic nature of the biblical gospel and of Christian mission. The Second Lausanne Congress, in Manila (1989), gave birth to more than 300 strategic partnerships in world evangelization, including many that involved co-operation between nations in all parts of the globe.
And second, we remain committed to the primary documents of the Movement – The Lausanne Covenant (1974), and The Manila Manifesto (1989). These documents clearly express core truths of the biblical gospel and apply them to our practical mission in ways that are still relevant and challenging. We confess that we have not been faithful to commitments made in those documents. But we commend them and stand by them, as we seek to discern how we must express and apply the eternal truth of the gospel in the ever-changing world of our own generation.
The realities of change
Almost everything about the way we live, think and relate to one another is changing at an accelerating pace. For good or ill, we feel the impact of globalization, of the digital revolution, and of the changing balance of economic and political power in the world. Some things we face cause us grief and anxiety – global poverty, war, ethnic conflict, disease, the ecological crisis and climate change. But one great change in our world is a cause for rejoicing – and that is the growth of the global Church of Christ.
The fact that the Third Lausanne Congress has taken place in Africa is proof of this. At least two thirds of all the world’s Christians now live in the continents of the global south and east. The composition of our Cape Town Congress reflected this enormous shift in world Christianity in the century since the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910. We rejoice in the amazing growth of the Church in Africa, and we rejoice that our African sisters and brothers in Christ hosted this Congress. At the same time, we could not meet in South Africa without being mindful of the past years of suffering under apartheid. So we give thanks for the progress of the gospel and the sovereign righteousness of God at work in recent history, while wrestling still with the ongoing legacy of evil and injustice. Such is the double witness and role of the Church in every place.
We must respond in Christian mission to the realities of our own generation. We must also learn from that mixture of wisdom and error, of achievement and failure, that we inherit from previous generations. We honour and lament the past, and we engage with the future, in the name of the God who holds all history in his hand.
In a world which works to re-invent itself at an ever-accelerated pace, some things remain the same. These great truths provide the biblical rationale for our missional engagement.
- Human beings are lost. The underlying human predicament remains as the Bible describes it: we stand under the just judgment of God in our sin and rebellion, and without Christ we are without hope.
- The gospel is good news. The gospel is not a concept that needs fresh ideas, but a story that needs fresh telling. It is the unchanged story of what God has done to save the world, supremely in the historical events of the life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus Christ. In Christ there is hope.
- The Church’s mission goes on. The mission of God continues to the ends of the earth and to the end of the world. The day will come when the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ and God will dwell with his redeemed humanity in the new creation. Until that day, the Church’s participation in God’s mission continues, in joyful urgency, and with fresh and exciting opportunities in every generation including our own.
The passion of our love
This Statement is framed in the language of love. Love is the language of covenant. The biblical covenants, old and new, are the expression of God’s redeeming love and grace reaching out to lost humanity and spoiled creation. They call for our love in return. Our love shows itself in trust, obedience and passionate commitment to our covenant Lord. The Lausanne Covenant defined evangelization as ‘the whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’. That is still our passion. So we renew that covenant by affirming again:
- Our love for the whole gospel, as God’s glorious good news in Christ, for every dimension of his creation, for it has all been ravaged by sin and evil;
- Our love for the whole Church, as God’s people, redeemed by Christ from every nation on earth and every age of history, to share God’s mission in this age and glorify him for ever in the age to come;
- Our love for the whole world, so far from God but so close to his heart, the world that God so loved that he gave his only Son for its salvation.
In the grip of that three-fold love, we commit ourselves afresh to be the whole Church, to believe, obey, and share the whole gospel, and to go to the whole world to make disciples of all nations.
For the Lord we love: The Cape Town Confession of Faith
1. We love because God first loved us
The mission of God flows from the love of God. The mission of God’s people flows from our love for God and for all that God loves. World evangelization is the outflow of God’s love to us and through us. We affirm the primacy of God’s grace and we then respond to that grace by faith, demonstrated through the obedience of love. We love because God first loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
A) Love for God and love for neighbour constitute the first and greatest commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. Love is the fulfilling of the law, and the first named fruit of the Spirit. Love is the evidence that we are born again; the assurance that we know God; and the proof that God dwells within us. Love is the new commandment of Christ, who told his disciples that only as they obeyed this commandment would their mission be visible and believable. Christian love for one another is how the unseen God, who made himself visible through his incarnate Son, goes on making himself visible to the world. Love was among the first things that Paul observed and commended among new believers, along with faith and hope. But love is the greatest, for love never ends.
B) Such love is not weak or sentimental. The love of God is covenantally faithful, committed, self-giving, sacrificial, strong, and holy. Since God is love, love permeates God’s whole being and all his actions, his justice as well as his compassion. God’s love extends over all his creation. We are commanded to love in ways that reflect the love of God in all those same dimensions. That is what it means to walk in the way of the Lord. 
C) So in framing our convictions and our commitments in terms of love, we are taking up the most basic and demanding biblical challenge of all:
- to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength;
- to love our neighbour (including the foreigner and the enemy) as ourselves;
- to love one another as God in Christ has loved us, and
- to love the world with the love of the One who gave his only Son that the world through him might be saved.
D) Such love is the gift of God poured out in our hearts, but it is also the command of God requiring the obedience of our wills. Such love means to be like Christ himself: robust in endurance, yet gentle in humility; tough in resisting evil, yet tender in compassion for the suffering; courageous in suffering and faithful even unto death. Such love was modelled by Christ on earth and is measured by the risen Christ in glory.
We affirm that such comprehensive biblical love should be the defining identity and hallmark of disciples of Jesus. In response to the prayer and command of Jesus, we long that it should be so for us. Sadly we confess that too often it is not. So we re-commit ourselves afresh to make every effort to live, think, speak and behave in ways that express what it means to walk in love – love for God, love for one another and love for the world.
2. We love the living God
Our God whom we love reveals himself in the Bible as the one, eternal, living God who governs all things according to his sovereign will and for his saving purpose. In the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God alone is the Creator, Ruler, Judge and Saviour of the world. So we love God – thanking him for our place in creation, submitting to his sovereign providence, trusting in his justice, and praising him for the salvation he has accomplished for us.
A) We love God above all rivals. We are commanded to love and worship the living God alone. But like Old Testament Israel we allow our love for God to be adulterated by going after the gods of this world, the gods of the people around us. We fall into syncretism, enticed by many idols such as greed, power and success, serving mammon rather than God. We accept dominant political and economic ideologies without biblical critique. We are tempted to compromise our belief in the uniqueness of Christ under the pressure of religious pluralism. Like Israel we need to hear the call of the prophets and of Jesus himself to repent, to forsake all such rivals, and to return to obedient love and worship of God alone.
B) We love God with passion for his glory. The greatest motivation for our mission is the same as that which drives the mission of God himself – that the one true living God should be known and glorified throughout his whole creation. That is God’s ultimate goal and should be our greatest joy.
‘If God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess him, so should we. We should be “jealous” (as Scripture sometimes puts it) for the honour of his name — troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it. The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God) but rather zeal — burning and passionate zeal — for the glory of Jesus Christ. … Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.’ John Stott
It should be our greatest grief that in our world the living God is not glorified. The living God is denied in aggressive atheism. The one true God is replaced or distorted in the practice of world religions. Our Lord Jesus Christ is abused and misrepresented in some popular cultures. And the face of the God of biblical revelation is obscured by Christian nominalism, syncretism and hypocrisy.
Loving God in the midst of a world that rejects or distorts him, calls for bold but humble witness to our God; robust but gracious defence of the truth of the gospel of Christ, God’s Son; and prayerful trust in the convicting and convincing work of his Holy Spirit. We commit ourselves to such witness, for if we claim to love God we must share God’s greatest priority, which is that his name and his Word should be exalted above all things.
3. We love God the Father
Through Jesus Christ, God’s Son, – and through him alone as the way, the truth and the life – we come to know and love God as Father. As the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, so we cry the words Jesus prayed, ‘Abba, Father’, and we pray the prayer Jesus taught, ‘Our Father’. Our love for Jesus, proved by obeying him, is met by the Father’s love for us as the Father and the Son make their home in us, in mutual giving and receiving of love. This intimate relationship has deep biblical foundations.
A) We love God as the Father of his people. Old Testament Israel knew God as Father, as the one who brought them into existence, carried them and disciplined them, called for their obedience, longed for their love, and exercised compassionate forgiveness and patient enduring love. All these remain true for us as God’s people in Christ in our relationship with our Father God.
B) We love God as the Father, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son for our salvation. How great the Father’s love for us that we should be called the children of God. How immeasurable the love of the Father who did not spare his only Son, but gave him up for us all. This love of the Father in giving the Son was mirrored by the self-giving love of the Son. There was complete harmony of will in the work of atonement that the Father and the Son accomplished at the cross, through the eternal Spirit. The Father loved the world and gave his Son; ‘the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.’ This unity of Father and Son, affirmed by Jesus himself, is echoed in Paul’s most repeated greeting of ‘grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins…according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’
C) We love God as the Father whose character we reflect and whose care we trust. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly points to our heavenly Father as the model or focus for our action. We are to be peacemakers, as sons of God. We are to do good deeds, so that our Father receives the praise. We are to love our enemies in reflection of God’s Fatherly love. We are to practise our giving, praying and fasting for our Father’s eyes only. We are to forgive others as our Father forgives us. We are to have no anxiety but trust in our Father’s provision. With such behaviour flowing from Christian character, we do the will of our Father in heaven, within the kingdom of God.
We confess that we have often neglected the truth of the Fatherhood of God and deprived ourselves of the riches of our relationship with him. We commit ourselves afresh to come to the Father through Jesus the Son: to receive and respond to his Fatherly love; to live in obedience under his Fatherly discipline; to reflect his Fatherly character in all our behaviour and attitudes; and to trust in his Fatherly provision in whatever circumstances he leads us.
4. We love God the Son
God commanded Israel to love the LORD God with exclusive loyalty. Likewise for us, loving the Lord Jesus Christ means that we steadfastly affirm that he alone is Saviour, Lord and God. The Bible teaches that Jesus performs the same sovereign actions as God alone. Christ is Creator of the universe, Ruler of history, Judge of all nations and Saviour of all who turn to God. He shares the identity of God in the divine equality and unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as God called Israel to love him in covenantal faith, obedience and servant-witness, we affirm our love for Jesus Christ by trusting in him, obeying him, and making him known.
A) We trust in Christ. We believe the testimony of the Gospels that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the one appointed and sent by God to fulfil the unique mission of Old Testament Israel, that is to bring the blessing of God’s salvation to all nations, as God promised to Abraham.
- In Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, God took our human flesh and lived among us, fully God and fully human.
- In his life Jesus walked in perfect faithfulness and obedience to God. He announced and taught the kingdom of God, and modelled the way his disciples must live under God’s reign.
- In his ministry and miracles, Jesus announced and demonstrated the victory of the kingdom of God over evil and evil powers.
- In his death on the cross, Jesus took our sin upon himself in our place, bearing its full cost, penalty and shame, defeated death and the powers of evil, and accomplished the reconciliation and redemption of all creation.
- In his bodily resurrection, Jesus was vindicated and exalted by God, completed and demonstrated the full victory of the cross, and became the forerunner of redeemed humanity and restored creation.
- Since his ascension, Jesus is reigning as Lord over all history and creation.
- At his return, Jesus will execute God’s judgment, destroy Satan, evil and death, and establish the universal reign of God.
B) We obey Christ. Jesus calls us to discipleship, to take up our cross and follow him in the path of self-denial, servanthood and obedience. ‘If you love me, keep my commandments,’ he said. ‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things I say?’ We are called to live as Christ lived and to love as Christ loved. To profess Christ while ignoring his commands is dangerous folly. Jesus warns us that many who claim his name with spectacular and miraculous ministries will find themselves disowned by him as evildoers.  We take heed to Christ’s warning, for none of us is immune to such fearful danger.
C) We proclaim Christ. In Christ alone God has fully and finally revealed himself, and through Christ alone God has achieved salvation for the world. We therefore kneel as disciples at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth and say to him with Peter, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,’ and with Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Though we have not seen him, we love him. And we rejoice with hope as we long for the day of his return when we shall see him as he is. Until that day we join Peter and John in proclaiming that ‘there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.’ 
We commit ourselves afresh to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching, in all the world, knowing that we can bear such witness only if we are living in obedience to his teaching ourselves.
5. We love God the Holy Spirit
We love the Holy Spirit within the unity of the Trinity, along with God the Father and God the Son. He is the missionary Spirit sent by the missionary Father and the missionary Son, breathing life and power into God’s missionary Church. We love and pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit because without the witness of the Spirit to Christ, our own witness is futile. Without the convicting work of the Spirit, our preaching is in vain. Without the gifts, guidance and power of the Spirit, our mission is mere human effort. And without the fruit of the Spirit, our unattractive lives cannot reflect the beauty of the gospel.
A) In the Old Testament we see the Spirit of God active in creation, in works of liberation and justice, and in filling and empowering people for every kind of service. Spirit-filled prophets looked forward to the coming King and Servant, whose Person and work would be endowed with God’s Spirit. Prophets also looked to the coming age that would be marked by the outpouring of God’s Spirit, bringing new life, fresh obedience, and prophetic gifting to all the people of God, young and old, men and women.
B) At Pentecost God poured out his Holy Spirit as promised by the prophets and by Jesus. The sanctifying Spirit produces his fruit in the lives of believers, and the first fruit is always love. The Spirit fills the Church with his gifts, which we ‘eagerly desire’ as the indispensable equipment for Christian service. The Spirit gives us power for mission and for the great variety of works of service. The Spirit enables us to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel, to discern the truth, to pray effectively and to prevail over the forces of darkness. The Spirit inspires and accompanies our worship. The Spirit strengthens and comforts disciples who are persecuted or on trial for their witness to Christ.
C) Our engagement in mission, then, is pointless and fruitless without the presence, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. This is true of mission in all its dimensions: evangelism, bearing witness to the truth, discipling, peace-making, social engagement, ethical transformation, caring for creation, overcoming evil powers, casting out demonic spirits, healing the sick, suffering and enduring under persecution. All we do in the name of Christ must be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The New Testament makes this clear in the life of the early Church and the teaching of the apostles. It is being demonstrated today in the fruitfulness and growth of Churches where Jesus’ followers act confidently in the power of the Holy Spirit, with dependence and expectation.
There is no true or whole gospel, and no authentic biblical mission, without the Person, work and power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for a greater awakening to this biblical truth, and for its experience to be reality in all parts of the worldwide body of Christ. However, we are aware of the many abuses that masquerade under the name of the Holy Spirit, the many ways in which all kinds of phenomena are practised and praised which are not the gifts of the Holy Spirit as clearly taught in the New Testament. There is great need for more profound discernment, for clear warnings against delusion, for the exposure of fraudulent and self-serving manipulators who abuse spiritual power for their own ungodly enrichment. Above all there is a great need for sustained biblical teaching and preaching, soaked in humble prayer, that will equip ordinary believers to understand and rejoice in the true gospel and to recognize and reject false gospels.
6. We love God’s Word
We love God’s Word in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, echoing the joyful delight of the Psalmist in the Torah, ‘I love your commands more than gold… Oh how I love your law.’ We receive the whole Bible as the Word of God, inspired by God’s Spirit, spoken and written through human authors. We submit to it as supremely and uniquely authoritative, governing our belief and our behaviour. We testify to the power of God’s Word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. We affirm that the Bible is the final written word of God, not surpassed by any further revelation, but we also rejoice that the Holy Spirit illumines the minds of God’s people so that the Bible continues to speak God’s truth in fresh ways to people in every culture. 
A) The Person the Bible reveals. We love the Bible as a bride loves her husband’s letters, not for the paper they are, but for the person who speaks through them. The Bible gives us God’s own revelation of his identity, character, purposes and actions. It is the primary witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. In reading it, we encounter him through his Spirit with great joy. Our love for the Bible is an expression of our love for God.
B) The story the Bible tells. The Bible tells the universal story of creation, fall, redemption in history, and new creation. This overarching narrative provides our coherent biblical worldview and shapes our theology. At the centre of this story are the climactic saving events of the cross and resurrection of Christ which constitute the heart of the gospel. It is this story (in the Old and New Testaments) that tells us who we are, what we are here for, and where we are going. This story of God’s mission defines our identity, drives our mission, and assures us the ending is in God’s hands. This story must shape the memory and hope of God’s people and govern the content of their evangelistic witness, as it is passed on from generation to generation. We must make the Bible known by all means possible, for its message is for all people on earth. We recommit ourselves, therefore, to the ongoing task of translating, disseminating and teaching the scriptures in every culture and language, including those that are predominantly oral or non-literary.
C) The truth the Bible teaches. The whole Bible teaches us the whole counsel of God, the truth that God intends us to know. We submit to it as true and trustworthy in all it affirms, for it is the Word of the God who cannot lie and will not fail. It is clear and sufficient in revealing the way of salvation. It is the foundation for exploring and understanding all dimensions of God’s truth.
We live however, in a world full of lies and rejection of the truth. Many cultures display a dominant relativism that denies that any absolute truth exists or can be known. If we love the Bible, then we must rise to the defence of its truth claims. We must find fresh ways to articulate biblical authority in all cultures. We commit ourselves again to strive to defend the truth of God’s revelation as part of our labour of love for God’s Word.
D) The life the Bible requires. ‘The Word is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.’ Jesus and James call us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.  The Bible portrays a quality of life that should mark the believer and the community of believers. From Abraham, through Moses, the Psalmists, prophets and wisdom of Israel, and from Jesus and the apostles, we learn that such a biblical lifestyle includes justice, compassion, humility, integrity, truthfulness, sexual chastity, generosity, kindness, self-denial, hospitality, peacemaking, non-retaliation, doing good, forgiveness, joy, contentment and love – all combined in lives of worship, praise and faithfulness to God.
We confess that we easily claim to love the Bible without loving the life it teaches – the life of costly practical obedience to God through Christ. Yet ‘nothing commends the gospel more eloquently than a transformed life, and nothing brings it into disrepute so much as personal inconsistency. We are charged to behave in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ and even to ‘adorn’ it, enhancing its beauty by holy lives.’  For the sake of the gospel of Christ, therefore, we recommit ourselves to prove our love for God’s Word by believing and obeying it. There is no biblical mission without biblical living.
7. We love God’s world
We share God’s passion for his world, loving all that God has made, rejoicing in God’s providence and justice throughout his creation, proclaiming the good news to all creation and all nations, and longing for the day when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.
A) We love the world of God’s creation. This love is not mere sentimental affection for nature (which the Bible nowhere commands), still less is it pantheistic worship of nature (which the Bible expressly forbids). Rather it is the logical outworking of our love for God by caring for what belongs to him. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ The earth is the property of the God we claim to love and obey. We care for the earth, most simply, because it belongs to the one whom we call Lord.
The earth is created, sustained and redeemed by Christ. We cannot claim to love God while abusing what belongs to Christ by right of creation, redemption and inheritance. We care for the earth and responsibly use its abundant resources, not according to the rationale of the secular world, but for the Lord’s sake. If Jesus is Lord of all the earth, we cannot separate our relationship to Christ from how we act in relation to the earth. For to proclaim the gospel that says ‘Jesus is Lord’ is to proclaim the gospel that includes the earth, since Christ’s Lordship is over all creation. Creation care is thus a gospel issue within the Lordship of Christ.
Such love for God’s creation demands that we repent of our part in the destruction, waste and pollution of the earth’s resources and our collusion in the toxic idolatry of consumerism. Instead, we commit ourselves to urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility. We support Christians whose particular missional calling is to environmental advocacy and action, as well as those committed to godly fulfilment of the mandate to provide for human welfare and needs by exercising responsible dominion and stewardship. The Bible declares God’s redemptive purpose for creation itself. Integral mission means discerning, proclaiming, and living out, the biblical truth that the gospel is God’s good news, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for individual persons, and for society, and for creation. All three are broken and suffering because of sin; all three are included in the redeeming love and mission of God; all three must be part of the comprehensive mission of God’s people.
B) We love the world of nations and cultures. ‘From one man, God made all nations of humanity, to live on the whole face of the earth.’ Ethnic diversity is the gift of God in creation and will be preserved in the new creation, when it will be liberated from our fallen divisions and rivalry. Our love for all peoples reflects God’s promise to bless all nations on earth and God’s mission to create for himself a people drawn from every tribe, language, nation and people. We must love all that God has chosen to bless, which includes all cultures. Historically, Christian mission, though flawed by destructive failures, has been instrumental in protecting and preserving indigenous cultures and their languages. Godly love, however, also includes critical discernment, for all cultures show not only positive evidence of the image of God in human lives, but also the negative fingerprints of Satan and sin. We long to see the gospel embodied and embedded in all cultures, redeeming them from within so that they may display the glory of God and the radiant fullness of Christ. We look forward to the wealth, glory and splendour of all cultures being brought into the city of God – redeemed and purged of all sin, enriching the new creation.
Such love for all peoples demands that we reject the evils of racism and ethnocentrism, and treat every ethnic and cultural group with dignity and respect, on the grounds of their value to God in creation and redemption.
Such love also demands that we seek to make the gospel known among every people and culture everywhere. No nation, Jew or Gentile, is exempt from the scope of the great commission. Evangelism is the outflow of hearts that are filled with the love of God for those who do not yet know him. We confess with shame that there are still very many peoples in the world who have never yet heard the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ. We renew the commitment that has inspired The Lausanne Movement from its beginning, to use every means possible to reach all peoples with the gospel.
C) We love the world’s poor and suffering. The Bible tells us that the Lord is loving toward all he has made, upholds the cause of the oppressed, loves the foreigner, feeds the hungry, sustains the fatherless and widow. The Bible also shows that God wills to do these things through human beings committed to such action. God holds responsible especially those who are appointed to political or judicial leadership in society, but all God’s people are commanded – by the law and prophets, Psalms and Wisdom, Jesus and Paul, James and John – to reflect the love and justice of God in practical love and justice for the needy.
Such love for the poor demands that we not only love mercy and deeds of compassion, but also that we do justice through exposing and opposing all that oppresses and exploits the poor. ‘We must not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist.’ We confess with shame that on this matter we fail to share God’s passion, fail to embody God’s love, fail to reflect God’s character and fail to do God’s will. We give ourselves afresh to the promotion of justice, including solidarity and advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. We recognize such struggle against evil as a dimension of spiritual warfare that can only be waged through the victory of the cross and resurrection, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with constant prayer.
D) We love our neighbours as ourselves. Jesus called his disciples to obey this commandment as the second greatest in the law, but then he radically deepened the demand (from the same chapter), ‘love the foreigner as yourself’ into ‘love your enemies’. 
Such love for our neighbours demands that we respond to all people out of the heart of the gospel, in obedience to Christ’s command and following Christ’s example. This love for our neighbours embraces people of other faiths, and extends to those who hate us, slander and persecute us, and even kill us. Jesus taught us to respond to lies with truth, to those doing evil with acts of kindness, mercy and forgiveness, to violence and murder against his disciples with self-sacrifice, in order to draw people to him and to break the chain of evil. We emphatically reject the way of violence in the spread of the gospel, and renounce the temptation to retaliate with revenge against those who do us wrong. Such disobedience is incompatible with the example and teaching of Christ and the New Testament. At the same time, our loving duty towards our suffering neighbours requires us to seek justice on their behalf through proper appeal to legal and state authorities who function as God’s servants in punishing wrongdoers.
E) The world we do not love. The world of God’s good creation has become the world of human and satanic rebellion against God. We are commanded not to love that world of sinful desire, greed, and human pride.We confess with sorrow that exactly those marks of worldliness so often disfigure our Christian presence and deny our gospel witness.
We commit ourselves afresh not to flirt with the fallen world and its transient passions, but to love the whole world as God loves it. So we love the world in holy longing for the redemption and renewal of all creation and all cultures in Christ, the ingathering of God’s people from all nations to the ends of the earth, and the ending of all destruction, poverty, and enmity.
8. We love the gospel of God
As disciples of Jesus, we are gospel people. The core of our identity is our passion for the biblical good news of the saving work of God through Jesus Christ. We are united by our experience of the grace of God in the gospel and by our motivation to make that gospel of grace known to the ends of the earth by every possible means.
A) We love the good news in a world of bad news. The gospel addresses the dire effects of human sin, failure and need. Human beings rebelled against God, rejected God’s authority and disobeyed God’s Word. In this sinful state, we are alienated from God, from one another and from the created order. Sin deserves God’s condemnation. Those who refuse to repent and ‘do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will be punished with eternal destruction and shut out from the presence of God.’  The effects of sin and the power of evil have corrupted every dimension of human personhood (spiritual, physical, intellectual and relational). They have permeated cultural, economic, social, political and religious life through all cultures and all generations of history. They have caused incalculable misery to the human race and damage to God’s creation. Against this bleak background, the biblical gospel is indeed very good news.
B) We love the story the gospel tells. The gospel announces as good news the historical events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. As the son of David, the promised Messiah King, Jesus is the one through whom alone God established his kingdom and acted for the salvation of the world, enabling all nations on earth to be blessed, as he promised Abraham. Paul defines the gospel in stating that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.’ The gospel declares that, on the cross of Christ, God took upon himself, in the person of his Son and in our place, the judgment our sin deserves. In the same great saving act, completed, vindicated and declared through the resurrection, God won the decisive victory over Satan, death and all evil powers, liberated us from their power and fear, and ensured their eventual destruction. God accomplished the reconciliation of believers with himself and with one another across all boundaries and enmities. God also accomplished his purpose of the ultimate reconciliation of all creation, and in the bodily resurrection of Jesus has given us the first fruits of the new creation. ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’  How we love the gospel story!
C) We love the assurance the gospel brings. Solely through trusting in Christ alone, we are united with Christ through the Holy Spirit and are counted righteous in Christ before God. Being justified by faith we have peace with God and no longer face condemnation. We receive the forgiveness of our sins. We are born again into a living hope by sharing Christ’s risen life. We are adopted as fellow heirs with Christ. We become citizens of God’s covenant people, members of God’s family and the place of God’s dwelling. So by trusting in Christ, we have full assurance of salvation and eternal life, for our salvation ultimately depends, not on ourselves, but on the work of Christ and the promise of God. ‘Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ How we love the gospel’s promise!
D) We love the transformation the gospel produces. The gospel is God’s life-transforming power at work in the world. ‘It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.’ Faith alone is the means by which the blessings and assurance of the gospel are received. Saving faith however never remains alone, but necessarily shows itself in obedience. Christian obedience is ‘faith expressing itself through love.’  We are not saved by good works, but having been saved by grace alone we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works.’ ‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ Paul saw the ethical transformation that the gospel produces as the work of God’s grace – grace which achieved our salvation at Christ’s first coming, and grace that teaches us to live ethically in the light of his second coming.For Paul, ‘obeying the gospel’ meant both trusting in grace, and then being taught by grace.Paul’s missional goal was to bring about ‘the obedience of faith’ among all nations. This strongly covenantal language recalls Abraham. Abraham believed God’s promise, which was credited to him as righteousness, and then obeyed God’s command in demonstration of his faith. ‘By faith Abraham…obeyed.’ Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ are the first acts of obedience the gospel calls for; ongoing obedience to God’s commands is the way of life that gospel faith enables, through the sanctifying Holy Spirit. Obedience is thus the living proof of saving faith and the living fruit of it. Obedience is also the test of our love for Jesus. ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.’ ‘We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.’ How we love the gospel’s power!
9. We love the people of God
The people of God are those from all ages and all nations whom God in Christ has loved, chosen, called, saved and sanctified as a people for his own possession, to share in the glory of Christ as citizens of the new creation. As those, then, whom God has loved from eternity to eternity and throughout all our turbulent and rebellious history, we are commanded to love one another. For ‘since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,’ and thereby ‘be imitators of God…and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.’ Love for one another in the family of God is not merely a desirable option but an inescapable command. Such love is the first evidence of obedience to the gospel, the necessary expression of our submission to Christ’s Lordship, and a potent engine of world mission. 
A) Love calls for unity. Jesus’ command that his disciples should love one another is linked to his prayer that they should be one. Both the command and the prayer are missional – ‘that the world may know you are my disciples’, and that ‘the world may know that you [the Father] sent me’. A most powerfully convincing mark of the truth of the gospel is when Christian believers are united in love across the barriers of the world’s inveterate divisions – barriers of race, colour, gender, social class, economic privilege or political alignment. However, few things so destroy our testimony as when Christians mirror and amplify the very same divisions among themselves. We urgently seek a new global partnership within the body of Christ across all continents, rooted in profound mutual love, mutual submission, and dramatic economic sharing without paternalism or unhealthy dependency. And we seek this not only as a demonstration of our unity in the gospel, but also for the sake of the name of Christ and the mission of God in all the world.
B) Love calls for honesty. Love speaks truth with grace. No one loved God’s people more than the prophets of Israel and Jesus himself. Yet no one confronted them more honestly with the truth of their failure, idolatry and rebellion against their covenant Lord. And in doing so, they called God’s people to repent, so that they could be forgiven and restored to the service of God’s mission. The same voice of prophetic love must be heard today, for the same reason. Our love for the Church of God aches with grief over the ugliness among us that so disfigures the face of our dear Lord Jesus Christ and hides his beauty from the world – the world that so desperately needs to be drawn to him.
C) Love calls for solidarity. Loving one another includes especially caring for those who are persecuted and in prison for their faith and witness. If one part of the body suffers, all parts suffer with it. We are all, like John, ‘companions in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus’. We commit ourselves to share in the suffering of members of the body of Christ throughout the world, through information, prayer, advocacy, and other means of support. We see such sharing, however, not merely as an exercise of pity, but longing also to learn what the suffering Church can teach and give to those parts of Christ’s body that are not suffering in the same way. We are warned that the Church that feels itself at ease in its wealth and self-sufficiency may, like Laodicea, be the Church that Jesus sees as the most blind to its own poverty, and from which he himself feels a stranger outside the door.
Jesus calls all his disciples together to be one family among the nations, a reconciled fellowship in which all sinful barriers are broken down through his reconciling grace. This Church is a community of grace, obedience and love in the communion of the Holy Spirit, in which the glorious attributes of God and gracious characteristics of Christ are reflected and God’s multi-coloured wisdom is displayed. As the most vivid present expression of the kingdom of God, the Church is the community of the reconciled who no longer live for themselves, but for the Saviour who loved them and gave himself for them.
10. We love the mission of God
We are committed to world mission, because it is central to our understanding of God, the Bible, the Church, human history and the ultimate future. The whole Bible reveals the mission of God to bring all things in heaven and earth into unity under Christ, reconciling them through the blood of his cross. In fulfilling his mission, God will transform the creation broken by sin and evil into the new creation in which there is no more sin or curse. God will fulfil his promise to Abraham to bless all nations on the earth, through the gospel of Jesus, the Messiah, the seed of Abraham. God will transform the fractured world of nations that are scattered under the judgment of God into the new humanity that will be redeemed by the blood of Christ from every tribe, nation, people and language, and will be gathered to worship our God and Saviour. God will destroy the reign of death, corruption and violence when Christ returns to establish his eternal reign of life, justice and peace. Then God, Immanuel, will dwell with us, and the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign for ever and ever.
A) Our participation in God’s mission. God calls his people to share his mission. The Church from all nations stands in continuity through the Messiah Jesus with God’s people in the Old Testament. With them we have been called through Abraham and commissioned to be a blessing and a light to the nations. With them, we are to be shaped and taught through the law and the prophets to be a community of holiness, compassion and justice in a world of sin and suffering. We have been redeemed through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to what God has done in Christ. The Church exists to worship and glorify God for all eternity and to participate in the transforming mission of God within history. Our mission is wholly derived from God’s mission, addresses the whole of God’s creation, and is grounded at its centre in the redeeming victory of the cross. This is the people to whom we belong, whose faith we confess and whose mission we share.
B) The integrity of our mission. The source of all our mission is what God has done in Christ for the redemption of the whole world, as revealed in the Bible. Our evangelistic task is to make that good news known to all nations. The context of all our mission is the world in which we live, the world of sin, suffering, injustice, and creational disorder, into which God sends us to love and serve for Christ’s sake. All our mission must therefore reflect the integration of evangelism and committed engagement in the world, both being ordered and driven by the whole biblical revelation of the gospel of God.
‘Evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God…The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world… We affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and humankind, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ…The salvation we proclaim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.’
‘Integral mission is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. If we ignore the world, we betray the Word of God which sends us out to serve the world. If we ignore the Word of God, we have nothing to bring to the world.’
We commit ourselves to the integral and dynamic exercise of all dimensions of mission to which God calls his Church.
- God commands us to make known to all nations the truth of God’s revelation and the gospel of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, calling all people to repentance, faith, baptism and obedient discipleship.
- God commands us to reflect his own character through compassionate care for the needy, and to demonstrate the values and the power of the kingdom of God in striving for justice and peace and in caring for God’s creation.
In response to God’s boundless love for us in Christ, and out of our overflowing love for him, we rededicate ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, fully to obey all that God commands, with self-denying humility, joy and courage. We renew this covenant with the Lord – the Lord we love because he first loved us.
For the world we serve: The Cape Town Call to Action
Our covenant with God binds love and obedience together. God rejoices to see our ‘work produced by faith’ and our ‘labour prompted by love’, for ‘we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’
As members of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ, we have sought to listen to the voice of God through the Holy Spirit. We have listened to his voice coming to us from his written Word in the exposition of Ephesians, and through the voices of his people around the world. Our six major Congress themes provide a framework to discern the challenges facing the worldwide Church of Christ, and our priorities for the future. We do not imply that these commitments are the only ones the Church should consider, or that priorities everywhere are the same.
IIA. Bearing witness to the truth of Christ in a pluralistic, globalized world
1. Truth and the person of Christ
Jesus Christ is the truth of the universe. Because Jesus is truth, truth in Christ is (i) personal as well as propositional; (ii) universal as well as contextual; (iii) ultimate as well as present.
A) As disciples of Christ we are called to be people of truth.
- We must live the truth. To live the truth is to be the face of Jesus, through whom the glory of the gospel is revealed to blinded minds. People will see truth in the faces of those who live their lives for Jesus, in faithfulness and love.
- We must proclaim the truth. Spoken proclamation of the truth of the gospel remains paramount in our mission. This cannot be separated from living out the truth. Works and words must go together.
B) We urge church leaders, pastors and evangelists to preach and teach the fullness of the biblical gospel as Paul did, in all its cosmic scope and truth. We must present the gospel not merely as offering individual salvation, or a better solution to needs than other gods can provide, but as God’s plan for the whole universe in Christ. People sometimes come to Christ to meet a personal need, but they stay with Christ when they find him to be the truth.
2. Truth and the challenge of pluralism
Cultural and religious plurality is a fact and Christians in Asia, for example, have lived with it for centuries. Different religions each affirm that theirs is the way of truth. Most will seek to respect competing truth claims of other faiths and live alongside them. However postmodern, relativist pluralism is different. Its ideology allows for no absolute or universal truth. While tolerating truth claims, it views them as no more than cultural constructs. (This position is logically self-destroying for it affirms as a single absolute truth that there is no single absolute truth.) Such pluralism asserts ‘tolerance’ as an ultimate value, but it can take oppressive forms in countries where secularism or aggressive atheism govern the public arena.
A) We long to see greater commitment to the hard work of robust apologetics. This must be at two levels.
- We need to identify, equip and pray for those who can engage at the highest intellectual and public level in arguing for and defending biblical truth in the public arena.
- We urge Church leaders and pastors to equip all believers with the courage and the tools to relate the truth with prophetic relevance to everyday public conversation, and so to engage every aspect of the culture we live in.
3. Truth and the workplace
The Bible shows us God’s truth about human work as part of God’s good purpose in creation. The Bible brings the whole of our working lives within the sphere of ministry, as we serve God in different callings. By contrast, the falsehood of a ‘sacred-secular divide’ has permeated the Church’s thinking and action. This divide tells us that religious activity belongs to God, whereas other activity does not. Most Christians spend most of their time in work which they may think has little spiritual value (so-called secular work). But God is Lord of all of life. ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,’ said Paul, to slaves in the pagan workplace.
In spite of the enormous evangelistic and transformational opportunity of the workplace, where adult Christians have most relationships with non-Christians, few churches have the vision to equip their people to seize this. We have failed to regard work in itself as biblically and intrinsically significant, as we have failed to bring the whole of life under the Lordship of Christ.
A) We name this secular-sacred divide as a major obstacle to the mobilization of all God’s people in the mission of God, and we call upon Christians worldwide to reject its unbiblical assumptions and resist its damaging effects. We challenge the tendency to see ministry and mission (local and cross-cultural) as being mainly the work of church-paid ministers and missionaries, who are a tiny percentage of the whole body of Christ.
B) We encourage all believers to accept and affirm their own daily ministry and mission as being wherever God has called them to work. We challenge pastors and church leaders to support people in suchministry – in the community and in the workplace – ‘to equip the saints for works of service [ministry]’ – in every part of their lives.
C) We need intensive efforts to train all God’s people in whole-life discipleship, which means to live, think, work, and speak from a biblical worldview and with missional effectiveness in every place or circumstance of daily life and work.
Christians in many skills, trades, businesses and professions, can often go to places where traditional church planters and evangelists may not. What these ‘tentmakers’ and business people do in the workplace must be valued as an aspect of the ministry of local churches.
D) We urge church leaders to understand the strategic impact of ministry in the workplace and to mobilize, equip and send out their church members as missionaries into the workplace, both in their own local communities and in countries that are closed to traditional forms of gospel witness.
E) We urge mission leaders to integrate ‘tentmakers’ fully into the global missional strategy.
4. Truth and the globalized media
We commit ourselves to a renewed critical and creative engagement with media and technology, as part of making the case for the truth of Christ in our media cultures. We must do so as God’s ambassadors of truth, grace, love, peace and justice.
We identify the following major needs:
A) Media awareness: to help people develop a more critical awareness of the messages they receive, and of the worldview behind them. The media can be neutral, and sometimes gospel friendly. But they are also used for pornography, violence and greed. We encourage pastors and churches to face these issues openly and to provide teaching and guidance for believers in resisting such pressures and temptations.
B) Media presence: to develop authentic and credible Christian role models and communicators for the general news media and the entertainment media, and to commend these careers as a worthy means of influence for Christ.
C) Media ministries: to develop creative, combined and interactive use of ‘traditional’, ‘old’ and ‘new’ media, to communicate the gospel of Christ in the context of a holistic biblical worldview.
5. Truth and the arts in mission
We possess the gift of creativity because we bear the image of God. Art in its many forms is an integral part of what we do as humans and can reflect something of the beauty and truth of God. Artists at their best are truth-tellers and so the arts constitute one important way in which we can speak the truth of the gospel. Drama, dance, story, music and visual image can be expressions both of the reality of our brokenness, and of the hope that is centred in the gospel that all things will be made new.
In the world of mission, the arts are an untapped resource. We actively encourage greater Christian involvement in the arts.
A) We long to see the Church in all cultures energetically engaging the arts as a context for mission by:
- Bringing the arts back into the life of the faith community as a valid and valuable component of our call to discipleship;
- Supporting those with artistic gifts, especially sisters and brothers in Christ, so that they may flourish in their work;
- Letting the arts serve as an hospitable environment in which we can acknowledge and come to know the neighbour and the stranger;
- Respecting cultural differences and celebrating indigenous artistic expression.
6. Truth, science and emerging technologies
This century is widely known as ‘the Bio-tech Century’, with advances in all the emerging technologies (bio, info/digital, nano, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics). This has deep implications for the Church and for mission, particularly in relation to the biblical truth of what it means to be human. We need to promote authentically Christian responses and practical action in the arena of public policies, to ensure that science and technology are used not to manipulate, distort and destroy, but to preserve and better fulfil our humanness, as those whom God has created in his own image. We call on:
A) Local church leaders to (i) encourage, support and ask questions of church members who are professionally engaged in science, technology, healthcare and public policy, and (ii) to present to theologically thoughtful students the need for Christians to enter these arenas.
B) Seminaries to engage with these fields in their curricula, so future Church leaders and theological educators develop an informed Christian critique of the new technologies.
C) Theologians, and Christians in government, business, academia and technical fields, to form national or regional ‘think tanks’ or partnerships to engage with new technologies and scientific advances, and to speak into the shaping of public policy with a voice that is biblical and relevant.
D) All local Christian communities to demonstrate respect for the unique dignity and sanctity of human life, by practical and holistic caring which integrates the physical, emotional, relational and spiritual aspects of our created humanity.
7. Truth and the public arenas
The interlocking arenas of Government, Business and Academia have a strong influence on the values of each nation and, in human terms, define the freedom of the Church.
A) We encourage Christ-followers to be actively engaged in these spheres, both in public service or private enterprise, in order to shape societal values and influence public debate. We encourage support for Christ-centred schools and universities that are committed to academic excellence and biblical truth.
B) Corruption is condemned in the Bible. It undermines economic development, distorts fair decision-making and destroys social cohesion. No nation is free of corruption. We invite Christians in the workplace, especially young entrepreneurs, to think creatively about how they can best stand against this scourge.
C) We encourage young Christian academics to consider a long-term career in the secular university, to (i) teach and (ii) develop their discipline from a biblical worldview, thereby to influence their subject field. We dare not neglect the Academy.
IIB. Building the peace of Christ in our divided and broken world
1. The peace that Christ made
Reconciliation to God is inseparable from reconciliation to one another. Christ, who is our peace, made peace through the cross, and preached peace to the divided world of Jew and Gentile. The unity of the people of God is both a fact (‘he made the two one’), and a mandate (‘make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’). God’s plan for the integration of the whole creation in Christ is modelled in the ethnic reconciliation of God’s new humanity. Such is the power of the gospel as promised to Abraham.
We affirm that whereas the Jewish people were not strangers to the covenants and promises of God, in the way that Paul describes the Gentiles, they still stand in need of reconciliation to God through the Messiah Jesus. There is no difference, said Paul, between Jew and Gentile in sin; neither is there any difference in salvation. Only in and through the cross can both have access to God the Father through the one Spirit.
A) We continue, therefore, strongly to affirm the need for the whole Church to share the good news of Jesus as Messiah, Lord and Saviour with Jewish people. And in the spirit of Romans 14-15, we urge Gentile believers to accept, encourage and pray for Messianic Jewish believers, in their witness among their own people.
Reconciliation to God and to one another is also the foundation and motivation for seeking the justice that God requires, without which, God says, there can be no peace. True and lasting reconciliation requires acknowledgment of past and present sin, repentance before God, confession to the injured one, and the seeking and receiving of forgiveness. It also includes commitment by the Church to seeking justice or reparation, where appropriate, for those who have been harmed by violence and oppression.
B) We long to see the worldwide Church of Christ, those who have been reconciled to God, living out our reconciliation with one another and committed to the task and struggle of biblical peace-making in the name of Christ.
2. Christ’s peace in ethnic conflict
Ethnic diversity is the gift and plan of God in creation. It has been spoiled by human sin and pride, resulting in confusion, strife, violence and war among nations. However, ethnic diversity will be preserved in the new creation, when people from every nation, tribe, people and language will gather as the redeemed people of God. We confess that we often fail to take ethnic identity seriously and to value it as the Bible does, in creation and redemption. We fail to respect the ethnic identity of others and ignore the deep wounds that such long-term disrespect causes.
A) We urge church pastors and leaders to teach biblical truth on ethnic diversity. We must positively affirm the ethnic identity of all church members. But we must also show how our ethnic loyalties are flawed by sin and teach believers that all our ethnic identities are subordinate to our redeemed identity as the new humanity in Christ through the cross.
We acknowledge with grief and shame the complicity of Christians in some of the most destructive contexts of ethnic violence and oppression, and the lamentable silence of large parts of the Church when such conflicts take place. Such contexts include the history and legacy of racism and black slavery; the holocaust against Jews; apartheid; ‘ethnic cleansing’; inter-Christian sectarian violence; decimation of indigenous populations; inter-religious, political and ethnic violence; Palestinian suffering; caste oppression; and tribal genocide. Christians who, by their action or inaction, add to the brokenness of the world, seriously undermine our witness to the gospel of peace. Therefore:
B) For the sake of the gospel, we lament, and call for repentance where Christians have participated in ethnic violence, injustice or oppression. We also call for repentance for the many times Christians have been complicit in such evils by silence, apathy or presumed neutrality, or by providing defective theological justification for these.
If the gospel is not deeply rooted in the context, challenging and transforming underlying worldviews and systems of injustice, then, when the evil day comes, Christian allegiance is discarded like an unwanted cloak and people revert to unregenerate loyalties and actions. Evangelizing without discipling, or revival without radical obedience to the commands of Christ, are not just deficient; they are dangerous.
We long for the day when the Church will be the world’s most visibly shining model of ethnic reconciliation and its most active advocate for conflict resolution.
Such aspiration, rooted in the gospel, calls us to:
C) Embrace the fullness of the reconciling power of the gospel and teach it accordingly. This includes a full biblical understanding of the atonement: that Jesus not only bore our sin on the cross to reconcile us to God, but destroyed our enmity, to reconcile us to one another.
D) Adopt the lifestyle of reconciliation. In practical terms this is demonstrated when Christians:
- forgive persecutors, while having courage to challenge injustice on behalf of others;
- give aid and offer hospitality to neighbours ‘on the other side’ of a conflict, taking initiatives to cross barriers to seek reconciliation;
- continue to witness to Christ in violent contexts; and are willing to suffer, and even to die, rather than take part in acts of destruction or revenge;
- engage in the long-term healing of wounds after conflict, making the Church a safe place of refuge and healing for all, including former enemies.
E) Be a beacon and bearer of hope. We bear witness to God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. It is solely in the name of Christ, and in the victory of his cross and resurrection, that we have authority to confront the demonic powers of evil that aggravate human conflict, and have power to minister his reconciling love and peace.
3. Christ’s peace for the poor and oppressed
The biblical foundation for our commitment to seeking justice and shalom for the oppressed and the poor, is summarized in The Cape Town Confession of Faith section 7(c). On that basis, we long for more effective Christian action on:
Slavery and human trafficking
There are more people all around the world in slavery today (an estimated 27 million) than 200 years ago when Wilberforce fought to abolish the transatlantic slave trade. In India alone there are an estimated 15 million bonded children. The caste system oppresses low caste groups and excludes Dalits. But sadly the Christian Church itself is infected in many places with the same forms of discrimination. The concerted voice of the global Church must be raised in protest against what is in effect one of the world’s oldest systems of slavery. But if such global advocacy is to have any authenticity, the Church must reject all inequality and discrimination within itself.
Migration on an unprecedented scale in today’s world, for a variety of reasons, has led to human trafficking on every continent, the widespread enslavement of women and children in the sex trade, and the abuse of children through enforced labour or military conscription.
A) Let us rise up as the Church worldwide to fight the evil of human trafficking, and to speak and act prophetically to ‘set the prisoners free’. This must include addressing the social, economic and political factors that feed the trade. The world’s slaves call out to the global Church of Christ, ‘Free our children. Free our women. Be our voice. Show us the new society that Jesus promised.’
We embrace the witness of the whole Bible, as it shows us God’s desire both for systemic economic justice and for personal compassion, respect and generosity towards the poor and needy. We rejoice that this extensive biblical teaching has become more integrated into our mission strategy and practice, as it was for the early Church and the Apostle Paul.
Accordingly, let us:
B) Recognize the great opportunity that the Millennium Development Goals have presented for the local and global Church. We call on churches to advocate for them before governments, and to participate in efforts to achieve them, such as the Micah Challenge.
C) Have courage to declare that the world cannot address, let alone solve, the problem of poverty without also challenging excessive wealth and greed. The gospel challenges the idolatry of rampant consumerism. We are called, as those who serve God and not mammon, to recognize that greed perpetuates poverty, and to renounce it. At the same time, we rejoice that the gospel includes the rich in its call to repentance, and invites them to join the fellowship of those transformed by forgiving grace.
4. Christ’s peace for people with disabilities
People with disabilities form one of the largest minority groups in the world, estimated to exceed 600 million. The majority of these live in the least developed countries, and are among the poorest of the poor. Although physical or mental impairment is a part of their daily experience, most are also disabled by social attitudes, injustice and lack of access to resources. Serving people with disabilities does not stop with medical care or social provision; it involves fighting alongside them, those who care for them and their families, for inclusion and equality, both in society and in the Church. God calls us to mutual friendship, respect, love, and justice.
A) Let us rise up as Christians worldwide to reject cultural stereotypes, for as the Apostle Paul commented, ‘we no longer regard anyone from a human point of view.’ Made in the image of God, we all have gifts God can use in his service. We commit both to minister to people with disabilities, and to receive the ministry they have to give.
B) We encourage church and mission leaders to think not only of mission among those with a disability, but to recognize, affirm and facilitate the missional calling of believers with disabilities themselves as part of the Body of Christ.
C) We are grieved that so many people with disabilities are told that their impairment is due to personal sin, lack of faith or unwillingness to be healed. We deny that the Bible teaches this as a universal truth. Such false teaching is pastorally insensitive and spiritually disabling; it adds the burden of guilt and frustrated hopes to the other barriers that people with disabilities face.
D) We commit ourselves to make our churches places of inclusion and equality for people with disabilities and to stand alongside them in resisting prejudice and in advocating for their needs in wider society.
5. Christ’s peace for people living with HIV
HIV and AIDS constitute a major crisis in many nations. Millions are infected with HIV, including many in our churches, and millions of children are orphaned by AIDS. God is calling us to show his deep love and compassion to all those infected and affected and to make every effort to save lives. We believe that the teachings and example of Jesus, as well as the transforming power of his cross and resurrection, are central to the holistic gospel response to HIV and AIDS that our world so urgently needs.
A) We reject and denounce all condemnation, hostility, stigma, and discrimination against those living with HIV and AIDS. Such things are a sin and a disgrace within the body of Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory; we have been saved only by grace, and we should be slow to judge, quick to restore and forgive. We also recognize with grief and compassion that very many people become infected with HIV through no fault of their own, and often through caring for others.
B) We long that all pastors should set an example of sexual chastity and faithfulness, as Paul commanded, and teach clearly and often that marriage is the exclusive place for sexual union. This is needed not only because it is the clear teaching of the Bible, but also because the prevalence of concurrent sexual partnerships outside marriage is a major factor in the rapid spread of HIV in the most affected countries.
C) Let us, as the Church worldwide, rise to this challenge in the name of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us stand together with our brothers and sisters in areas hardest hit by HIV and AIDS, through practical support, compassionate care (including care of widows and orphans), social and political advocacy, education programmes (particularly those that empower women), and effective prevention strategies appropriate to the local context. We commit ourselves to such urgent and prophetic action as part of the integral mission of the Church.
6. Christ’s peace for his suffering creation
Our biblical mandate in relation to God’s creation is provided in The Cape Town Confession of Faith section 7 (a). All human beings are to be stewards of the rich abundance of God’s good creation. We are authorized to exercise godly dominion in using it for the sake of human welfare and needs, for example in farming, fishing, mining, energy generation, engineering, construction, trade, medicine. As we do so, we are also commanded to care for the earth and all its creatures, because the earth belongs to God, not to us. We do this for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the creator, owner, sustainer, redeemer and heir of all creation.
We lament over the widespread abuse and destruction of the earth’s resources, including its bio-diversity. Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.
We encourage Christians worldwide to:
A) Adopt lifestyles that renounce habits of consumption that are destructive or polluting;
B) Exert legitimate means to persuade governments to put moral imperatives above political expediency on issues of environmental destruction and potential climate change;
C) Recognize and encourage the missional calling both of (i) Christians who engage in the proper use of the earth’s resources for human need and welfare through agriculture, industry and medicine, and (ii) Christians who engage in the protection and restoration of the earth’s habitats and species through conservation and advocacy. Both share the same goal for both serve the same Creator, Provider and Redeemer.
IIC. Living the love of Christ among people of other faiths
1. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ includes persons of other faiths
In view of the affirmations made in The Cape Town Confession of Faith section 7 (d), we respond to our high calling as disciples of Jesus Christ to see people of other faiths as our neighbours in the biblical sense. They are human beings created in God’s image, whom God loves and for whose sins Christ died. We strive not only to see them as neighbours, but to obey Christ’s teaching by being neighbours to them. We are called to be gentle, but not naïve; to be discerning and not gullible; to be alert to whatever threats we may face, but not ruled by fear.
We are called to share good news in evangelism, but not to engage in unworthy proselytizing. Evangelism, which includes persuasive rational argument following the example of the Apostle Paul, is ‘to make an honest and open statement of the gospel which leaves the hearers entirely free to make up their own minds about it. We wish to be sensitive to those of other faiths, and we reject any approach that seeks to force conversion on them.’ Proselytizing, by contrast, is the attempt to compel others to become ‘one of us’, to ‘accept our religion’, or indeed to ‘join our denomination’.
A) We commit ourselves to be scrupulously ethical in all our evangelism. Our witness is to be marked by ‘gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.’ We therefore reject any form of witness that is coercive, unethical, deceptive, or disrespectful.
B) In the name of the God of love, we repent of our failure to seek friendships with people of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious backgrounds. In the spirit of Jesus, we will take initiatives to show love, goodwill and hospitality to them.
C) In the name of the God of truth, we (i) refuse to promote lies and caricatures about other faiths, and (ii) denounce and resist the racist prejudice, hatred and fear incited in popular media and political rhetoric.
D) In the name of the God of peace, we reject the path of violence and revenge in all our dealings with people of other faiths, even when violently attacked.
E) We affirm the proper place for dialogue with people of other faiths, just as Paul engaged in debate with Jews and Gentiles in the synagogue and public arenas. As a legitimate part of our Christian mission, such dialogue combines confidence in the uniqueness of Christ and in the truth of the gospel with respectful listening to others.
2. The love of Christ calls us to suffer and sometimes to die for the gospel
Suffering may be necessary in our missionary engagement as witnesses to Christ, as it was for his apostles and the Old Testament prophets. Being willing to suffer is an acid test for the genuineness of our mission. God can use suffering, persecution and martyrdom to advance his mission. ‘Martyrdom is a form of witness which Christ has promised especially to honour.’ Many Christians living in comfort and prosperity need to hear again the call of Christ to be willing to suffer for him. For many other believers live in the midst of such suffering as the cost of bearing witness to Jesus Christ in a hostile religious culture. They may have seen loved ones martyred, or endured torture or persecution because of their faithful obedience, yet continue to love those who have so harmed them.
A) We hear and remember with tears and prayer the testimonies of those who suffer for the gospel. We pray for grace and courage, along with them, to ‘love our enemies’ as Christ commanded us. We pray that the gospel may bear fruit in places that are so hostile to its messengers. As we rightly grieve for those who suffer, we remember the infinite grief God feels over those who resist and reject his love, his gospel and his servants. We long for them to repent and be forgiven and find the joy of being reconciled to God.
3. Love in action embodies and commends the gospel of grace
‘We are the aroma of Christ.’ Our calling is to live and serve among people of other faiths in a way that is so saturated with the fragrance of God’s grace that they smell Christ, that they come to taste and see that God is good. By such embodied love, we are to make the gospel attractive in every cultural and religious setting. When Christians love people of other faiths through lives of love and acts of service, they embody the transforming grace of God.
In cultures of ‘honour’, where shame and vengeance are allied with religious legalism, ‘grace’ is an alien concept. In these contexts, God’s vulnerable, self-sacrificing love is not something to be debated; it is considered too foreign, even repulsive. Here, grace is an acquired taste, over a long time, in small doses, for those hungry enough to dare to taste it. The aroma of Christ gradually permeates all that his followers come into contact with.
A) We long for God to raise up more men and women of grace who will make long-term commitments to live, love and serve in tough places dominated by other religions, to bring the smell and taste of the grace of Jesus Christ into cultures where it is unwelcome and dangerous to do so. This takes patience and endurance, sometimes for a whole life-time, sometimes unto death.
4. Love respects diversity of discipleship
So called ‘insider movements’ are to be found within several religions. These are groups of people who are now following Jesus as their God and Saviour. They meet together in small groups for fellowship, teaching, worship and prayer centred around Jesus and the Bible while continuing to live socially and culturally within their birth communities, including some elements of its religious observance. This is a complex phenomenon and there is much disagreement over how to respond to it. Some commend such movements. Others warn of the danger of syncretism. Syncretism, however, is a danger found among Christians everywhere as we express our faith within our own cultures. We should avoid the tendency, when we see God at work in unexpected or unfamiliar ways, either (i) hastily to classify it and promote it as a new mission strategy, or (ii) hastily to condemn it without sensitive contextual listening.
A) In the spirit of Barnabas who, on arrival in Antioch, ‘saw the evidence of the grace of God’ and ‘was gladand encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord,’ we would appeal to all those who are concerned with this issue to:
- Take as their primary guiding principle the apostolic decision and practice: ‘We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.’
- Exercise humility, patience and graciousness in recognizing the diversity of viewpoints, and conduct conversations without stridency and mutual condemnation.
5. Love reaches out to scattered peoples
People are on the move as never before. Migration is one of the great global realities of our era. It is estimated that 200 million people are living outside their countries of origin, voluntarily or involuntarily. The term ‘diaspora’ is used here to mean people who have relocated from their lands of birth for whatever reason. Some relocate permanently, and others, like three million international students and scholars, temporarily. Vast numbers of people from many religious backgrounds, including Christians, live in diaspora conditions: economic migrants seeking work; internally-displaced peoples because of war or natural disaster; refugees and asylum seekers; victims of ethnic cleansing; people fleeing religious violence and persecution; famine sufferers – whether caused by drought, floods, or war; victims of rural poverty moving to cities. We are convinced that contemporary migrations are within the sovereign missional purpose of God, without ignoring the evil and suffering that can be involved.
A) We encourage Church and mission leaders to recognize and respond to the missional opportunities presented by global migration and diaspora communities, in strategic planning, and in focused training and resourcing of those called to work among them.
B) We encourage Christians in host nations which have immigrant communities and international students and scholars of other religious backgrounds to bear counter-cultural witness to the love of Christ in deed and word, by obeying the extensive biblical commands to love the stranger, defend the cause of the foreigner, visit the prisoner, practise hospitality, build friendships, invite into our homes, and provide help and services.
C) We encourage Christians who are themselves part of diaspora communities to discern the hand of God, even in circumstances they may not have chosen, and to seek whatever opportunities God provides for bearing witness to Christ in their host community and seeking its welfare. Where that host country includes Christian churches, we urge immigrant and indigenous churches together to listen and learn from one another, and to initiate co-operative efforts to reach all sections of their nation with the gospel.
6. Love works for religious freedom for all people
Upholding human rights by defending religious freedom is not incompatible with following the way of the cross when confronted with persecution. There is no contradiction between being willing personally to suffer the abuse or loss of our own rights for the sake of Christ, and being committed to advocate and speak up for those who are voiceless under the violation of their human rights. We must also distinguish between advocating the rights of people of other faiths and endorsing the truth of their beliefs. We can defend the freedom of others to believe and practise their religion without accepting that religion as true.
A) Let us strive for the goal of religious freedom for all people. This requires advocacy before governments on behalf of Christians and people of other faiths who are persecuted.
B) Let us conscientiously obey biblical teaching to be good citizens, to seek the welfare of the nation where we live, to honour and pray for those in authority, to pay taxes, to do good, and to seek to live peaceful and quiet lives. The Christian is called to submit to the state, unless the state commands what God forbids, or prohibits what God commands. If the state thus forces us to choose between loyalty to itself and our higher loyalty to God, we must say No to the state because we have said Yes to Jesus Christ as Lord.
In the midst of all our legitimate efforts for religious freedom for all people, the deepest longing of our hearts remains that all people should come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, freely put their faith in him and be saved, and enter the kingdom of God.
IID. Discerning the will of Christ for world evangelization
1. Unreached and unengaged peoples
The heart of God longs that all people should have access to the knowledge of God’s love and of his saving work through Jesus Christ. We recognize with grief and shame that there are thousands of people groups around the world for whom such access has not yet been made available through Christian witness. These are peoples who are unreached, in the sense that there are no known believers and no churches among them. Many of these peoples are also unengaged, in the sense that we currently know of no churches or agencies that are even trying to share the gospel with them. Indeed, only a tiny percentage of the Church’s resources (human and material) is being directed to the least-reached peoples. By definition these are peoples who will not invite us to come with the good news, since they know nothing about it. Yet their presence among us in our world 2,000 years after Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations, constitutes not only a rebuke to our disobedience, not only a form of spiritual injustice, but also a silent ‘Macedonian Call’.
Let us rise up as the Church worldwide to meet this challenge, and:
A) Repent of our blindness to the continuing presence of so many unreached peoples in our world and our lack of urgency in sharing the gospel among them.
B) Renew our commitment to go to those who have not yet heard the gospel, to engage deeply with their language and culture, to live the gospel among them with incarnational love and sacrificial service, to communicate the light and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ in word and deed, awakening them through the Holy Spirit’s power to the surprising grace of God.
C) Aim to eradicate Bible poverty in the world, for the Bible remains indispensable for evangelism. To do this we must:
- Hasten the translation of the Bible into the languages of peoples who do not yet have any portion of God’s Word in their mother tongue;
- Make the message of the Bible widely available by oral means. (See also Oral cultures below.)
D) Aim to eradicate Bible ignorance in the Church, for the Bible remains indispensable for discipling believers into the likeness of Christ.
- We long to see a fresh conviction, gripping all God’s Church, of the central necessity of Bible teaching for the Church’s growth in ministry, unity and maturity. We rejoice in the gifting of all those whom Christ has given to the Church as pastor-teachers. We will make every effort to identify, encourage, train and support them in the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. In doing so, however, we must reject the kind of clericalism that restricts the ministry of God’s Word to a few paid professionals, or to formal preaching in church pulpits. Many men and women, who are clearly gifted in pastoring and teaching God’s people, exercise their gifting informally or without official denominational structures, but with the manifest blessing of God’s Spirit. They too need to be recognized, encouraged, and equipped to rightly handle the Word of God.
- We must promote Bible literacy among the generation that now relates primarily to digital communication rather than books, by encouraging digital methods of studying the scriptures inductively with the depth of inquiry that at present requires paper, pens and pencils.
E) Let us keep evangelism at the centre of the fully-integrated scope of all our mission, inasmuch as the gospel itself is the source, content and authority of all biblically-valid mission. All we do should be both an embodiment and a declaration of the love and grace of God and his saving work through Jesus Christ.
2. Oral cultures
The majority of the world’s population are oral communicators, who cannot or do not learn through literate means, and more than half of them are among the unreached as defined above. Among these, there are an estimated 350 million people without a single verse of Scripture in their language. In addition to the ‘primary oral learners’ there are many ‘secondary oral learners’, that is those who are technically literate but prefer now to communicate in an oral manner, with the rise of visual learning and the dominance of images in communication.
As we recognize and take action on issues of orality, let us:
A) Make greater use of oral methodologies in discipling programmes, even among literate believers.
B) Make available an oral format Story Bible in the heart languages of unreached and unengaged people groups as a matter of priority.
C) Encourage mission agencies to develop oral strategies, including: the recording and distribution of oral Bible stories for evangelism, discipling and leadership training, along with appropriate orality training for pioneer evangelists and church-planters; these could use fruitful oral and visual communication methods for communicating the whole biblical story of salvation, including storytelling, dances, arts, poetry, chants and dramas.
D) Encourage local churches in the Global South to engage with unreached people groups in their area through oral methods that are specific to their worldview.
E) Encourage seminaries to provide curricula that will train pastors and missionaries in oral methodologies.
3. Christ-centred leaders
The rapid growth of the Church in so many places remains shallow and vulnerable, partly because of the lack of discipled leaders, and partly because so many use their positions for worldly power, arrogant status or personal enrichment. As a result, God’s people suffer, Christ is dishonoured, and gospel mission is undermined. ‘Leadership training’ is the commonly-proposed priority solution. Indeed, leadership training programmes of all kinds have multiplied, but the problem remains, for two probable reasons.
First, training leaders to be godly and Christlike is the wrong way round. Biblically, only those whose lives already display basic qualities of mature discipleship should be appointed to leadership in the first place. If, today, we are faced with many people in leadership who have scarcely been discipled, then there is no option but to include such basic discipling in their leadership development. Arguably the scale of un-Christlike and worldly leadership in the global Church today is glaring evidence of generations of reductionist evangelism, neglected discipling and shallow growth. The answer to leadership failure is not just more leadership training but better discipleship training. Leaders must first be disciples of Christ himself.
Second, some leadership training programmes focus on packaged knowledge, techniques and skills to the neglect of godly character. By contrast, authentic Christian leaders must be like Christ in having a servant heart, humility, integrity, purity, lack of greed, prayerfulness, dependence on God’s Spirit, and a deep love for people. Furthermore, some leadership training programmes lack specific training in the one key skill that Paul includes in his list of qualifications – ability to teach God’s Word to God’s people. Yet Bible teaching is the paramount means of disciple-making and the most serious deficiency in contemporary Church leaders.
A) We long to see greatly intensified efforts in disciple-making, through the long-term work of teaching and nurturing new believers, so that those whom God calls and gives to the Church as leaders are qualified according to biblical criteria of maturity and servanthood.
B) We renew our commitment to pray for our leaders. We long that God would multiply, protect and encourage leaders who are biblically faithful and obedient. We pray that God would rebuke, remove, or bring to repentance leaders who dishonour his name and discredit the gospel. And we pray that God would raise up a new generation of discipled servant-leaders whose passion is above all else to know Christ and be like him.
C) Those of us who are in Christian leadership need to recognize our vulnerability and accept the gift of accountability within the body of Christ. We commend the practice of submitting to an accountability group.
D) We strongly encourage seminaries, and all those who deliver leadership training programmes, to focus more on spiritual and character formation, not only on imparting knowledge or grading performance, and we heartily rejoice in those that already do so as part of comprehensive ‘whole person’ leadership development.
Cities are crucially important for the human future and for world mission. Half the world now lives in cities. Cities are where four major kinds of people are most to be found: (i) the next generation of young people; (ii) the most unreached peoples who have migrated; (iii) the culture shapers; (iv) the poorest of the poor.
A) We discern the sovereign hand of God in the massive rise of urbanization in our time, and we urge Church and mission leaders worldwide to respond to this fact by giving urgent strategic attention to urban mission. We must love our cities as God does, with holy discernment and Christlike compassion, and obey his command to ‘seek the welfare of the city’, wherever that may be. We will seek to learn appropriate and flexible methods of mission that respond to urban realities.
All children are at risk. There are about two billion children in our world, and half of them are at risk from poverty. Millions are at risk from prosperity. Children of the wealthy and secure have everything to live with, but nothing to live for.
Children and young people are the Church of today, not merely of tomorrow. Young people have great potential as active agents in God’s mission. They represent an enormous under-used pool of influencers with sensitivity to the voice of God and a willingness to respond to him. We rejoice in the excellent ministries that serve among and with children, and long for such work to be multiplied since the need is so great. As we see in the Bible, God can and does use children and young people – their prayers, their insights, their words, their initiatives – in changing hearts. They represent ‘new energy’ to transform the world. Let us listen and not stifle their childlike spirituality with our adult rationalistic approaches.
We commit ourselves to:
A) Take children seriously, through fresh biblical and theological enquiry that reflects on God’s love and purpose for them and through them, and by rediscovering the profound significance for theology and mission of Jesus’ provocative action in placing ‘a child in the midst’.
B) Seek to train people and provide resources to meet the needs of children worldwide, wherever possible working with their families and communities, in the conviction that holistic ministry to and through each next generation of children and young people is a vital component of world mission.
C) Expose, resist, and take action against all abuse of children, including violence, exploitation, slavery, trafficking, prostitution, gender and ethnic discrimination, commercial targeting, and wilful neglect.
In the midst of all these priorities, let us commit ourselves afresh to pray. Prayer is a call, a command and a gift. Prayer is the indispensible foundation and resource for all elements of our mission.
A) We will pray with unity, focus, persistence, and biblically-informed clarity:
- For God to send labourers into every corner of the world, in the power of his Spirit;
- For the lost in every people and place to be drawn to God by his Spirit, through the declaration of the truth of the gospel and the demonstration of Christ’s love and power;
- For God’s glory to be revealed and Christ’s name to be known and praised because of the character, deeds and words of his people. We will cry out for our brothers and sisters who suffer for the name of Christ;
- For God’s kingdom to come, that God’s will may be done on earth as in heaven, in the establishment of justice, the stewardship and care of creation, and the blessing of God’s peace in our communities.
B) We will continually give thanks as we see God’s work among the nations, looking forward to the day when the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ.
IIE. Calling the Church of Christ back to humility, integrity and simplicity
Walking is the biblical metaphor for our way of life and daily conduct. Seven times in Ephesians Paul speaks of how Christians should, or should not, walk.
1. Walk in distinctiveness, as God’s new humanity 
The people of God either walk in the way of the Lord, or walk in the ways of other gods. The Bible shows that God’s greatest problem is not just with the nations of the world, but with the people he has created and called to be the means of blessing the nations. And the biggest obstacle to fulfilling that mission is idolatry among God’s own people. For if we are called to bring the nations to worship the only true and living God, we fail miserably if we ourselves are running after the false gods of the people around us.
When there is no distinction in conduct between Christians and non-Christians – for example in the practice of corruption and greed, or sexual promiscuity, or rate of divorce, or relapse to pre-Christian religious practice, or attitudes towards people of other races, or consumerist lifestyles, or social prejudice – then the world is right to wonder if our Christianity makes any difference at all. Our message carries no authenticity to a watching world.
A) We challenge one another, as God’s people in every culture, to face up to the extent to which, consciously or unconsciously, we are caught up in the idolatries of our surrounding culture. We pray for prophetic discernment to identify and expose such false gods and their presence within the Church itself, and for the courage to repent and renounce them in the name and authority of Jesus as Lord.
B) Since there is no biblical mission without biblical living, we urgently re-commit ourselves, and challenge all those who profess the name of Christ, to live in radical distinctiveness from the ways of the world, to ‘put on the new humanity, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’
2. Walk in love, rejecting the idolatry of disordered sexuality 
God’s design in creation is that marriage is constituted by the committed, faithful relationship between one man and one woman, in which they become one flesh in a new social unity that is distinct from their birth families, and that sexual intercourse as the expression of that ‘one flesh’ is to be enjoyed exclusively within the bond of marriage. This loving sexual union within marriage, in which ‘two become one’, reflects both Christ’s relationship with the Church and also the unity of Jew and Gentile in the new humanity.
Paul contrasts the purity of God’s love with the ugliness of counterfeit love that masquerades in disordered sexuality and all that goes along with it. Disordered sexuality of all kinds, in any practice of sexual intimacy before or outside marriage as biblically defined, is out of line with God’s will and blessing in creation and redemption. The abuse and idolatry that surrounds disordered sexuality contributes to wider social decline, including the breakdown of marriages and families and produces incalculable suffering of loneliness and exploitation. It is a serious issue within the Church itself, and it is a tragically common cause of leadership failure.
We recognize our need for deep humility and consciousness of failure in this area. We long to see Christians challenging our surrounding cultures by living according to the standards to which the Bible calls us.
A) We strongly encourage all pastors:
- To facilitate more open conversation about sexuality in our churches, declaring positively the good news of God’s plan for healthy relationships and family life, but also addressing with pastoral honesty the areas where Christians share in the broken and dysfunctional realities of their surrounding culture;
- To teach God’s standards clearly, but to do so with Christ’s pastoral compassion for sinners, recognising how vulnerable we all are to sexual temptation and sin;
- To strive to set a positive example in living by biblical standards of sexual faithfulness;
B) As members of the Church we commit ourselves:
- To do all we can in the Church and in society to strengthen faithful marriages and healthy family life;
- To recognize the presence and contribution of those who are single, widowed, or childless, to ensure the church is a welcoming and sustaining family in Christ, and to enable them to exercise their gifts in the full range of the church’s ministries;
- To resist the multiple forms of disordered sexuality in our surrounding cultures, including pornography, adultery and promiscuity;
- To seek to understand and address the deep heart issues of identity and experience which draw some people into homosexual practice; to reach out with the love, compassion and justice of Christ, and to reject and condemn all forms of hatred, verbal or physical abuse, and victimization of homosexual people;
- To remember that by God’s redemptive grace no person or situation is beyond the possibility of change and restoration.
3. Walk in humility, rejecting the idolatry of power 
In our fallenness and sin, power is often exercised to abuse and exploit others. We exalt ourselves, claiming superiority of gender, race, or social status. Paul counters all these marks of the idolatry of pride and power with his requirement that those who are filled by God’s Spirit should submit to one another for Christ’s sake. Such mutual submission and reciprocal love is to be expressed in marriage, family, and socio-economic relations.
A) We long to see all Christian husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, living out the Bible’s teaching about ‘submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ’.
B) We encourage pastors to help believers understand, honestly discuss, and practise the mutual submission that God requires of his children towards one another. In a world of greed, power and abuse, God is calling his Church to be the place of gentle humility and selfless love among its members.
C) We particularly and urgently call Christian husbands to observe the balance of responsibilities in Paul’s teaching about husbands and wives. Mutual submission means that a wife’s submission to her husband is to a man whose love and care for her is modelled on the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ for his Church. Any form of abuse of one’s wife – verbal, emotional or physical – is incompatible with the love of Christ, in every culture. We deny that any cultural custom or distorted biblical interpretation can justify the beating of a wife. We grieve that it is found among professing Christians, including pastors and leaders. We have no hesitation in denouncing it as a sin, and call for repentance and renunciation of it as a practice.
4. Walk in integrity, rejecting the idolatry of success
We cannot build the kingdom of the God of truth on foundations of dishonesty. Yet in our craving for ‘success’ and ‘results’ we are tempted to sacrifice our integrity, with distorted or exaggerated claims that amount to lies. Walking in the light, however, ‘consists in …righteousness and truth’.
A) We call on all church and mission leaders to resist the temptation to be less than totally truthful in presenting our work. We are dishonest when we exaggerate our reports with unsubstantiated statistics, or twist the truth for the sake of gain. We pray for a cleansing wave of honesty and the end of such distortion, manipulation and exaggeration. We call on all who fund spiritual work not to make unrealistic demands for measurable and visible results, beyond the need for proper accountability. Let us strive for a culture of full integrity and transparency. We will choose to walk in the light and truth of God, for the Lord tests the heart and is pleased with integrity.
5. Walk in simplicity, rejecting the idolatry of greed 
The widespread preaching and teaching of ‘prosperity gospel’ around the world raises significant concerns. We define prosperity gospel as the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ through financial or material gifts. Prosperity teaching is a phenomenon that cuts across many denominations in all continents.
We affirm the miraculous grace and power of God, and we welcome the growth of churches and ministries that lead people to exercise expectant faith in the living God and his supernatural power. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we deny that God’s miraculous power can be treated as automatic, or at the disposal of human techniques, or manipulated by human words, actions, gifts, objects, or rituals.
We affirm that there is a biblical vision of human prospering, and that the Bible includes material welfare (both health and wealth) within its teaching about the blessing of God. However, we deny as unbiblical the teaching that spiritual welfare can be measured in terms of material welfare, or that wealth is always a sign of God’s blessing. The Bible shows that wealth can often be obtained by oppression, deceit or corruption. We also deny that poverty, illness or early death are always a sign of God’s curse, or evidence of lack of faith, or the result of human curses, since the Bible rejects such simplistic explanations
We accept that it is good to exalt the power and victory of God. But we believe that the teachings of many who vigorously promote the prosperity gospel seriously distort the Bible; that their practices and lifestyle are often unethical and un-Christlike; that they commonly replace genuine evangelism with miracle-seeking, and replace the call to repentance with the call to give money to the preacher’s organization. We grieve that the impact of this teaching on many Churches is pastorally damaging and spiritually unhealthy. We gladly and strongly affirm every initiative in Christ’s name that seeks to bring healing to the sick, or lasting deliverance from poverty and suffering. The prosperity gospel offers no lasting solution to poverty, and can deflect people from the true message and means of eternal salvation. For these reasons it can be soberly described as a false gospel. We therefore reject the excesses of prosperity teaching as incompatible with balanced biblical Christianity.
A) We urgently encourage church and mission leaders in contexts where the prosperity gospel is popular to test its teaching with careful attention to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Particularly, we all need to interpret and teach those Bible texts that are commonly used to support the prosperity gospel in their full biblical context and proper balance. Where prosperity teaching happens in the context of poverty, we must counter it with authentic compassion and action to bring justice and lasting transformation for the poor. Above all we must replace self-interest and greed with the biblical teaching on self-sacrifice and generous giving as the marks of true discipleship to Christ. We affirm Lausanne’s historic call for simpler lifestyles.
IIF. Partnering in the body of Christ for unity in mission
Paul teaches us that Christian unity is the creation of God, based on our reconciliation with God and with one another. This double reconciliation has been accomplished through the cross. When we live in unity and work in partnership we demonstrate the supernatural, counter-cultural power of the cross. But when we demonstrate our disunity through failure to partner together, we demean our mission and message, and deny the power of the cross.
1. Unity in the Church
A divided Church has no message for a divided world. Our failure to live in reconciled unity is a major obstacle to authenticity and effectiveness in mission.
A) We lament the dividedness and divisiveness of our churches and organizations. We deeply and urgently long for Christians to cultivate a spirit of grace and to be obedient to Paul’s command to ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’
B) While we recognize that our deepest unity is spiritual, we long for greater recognition of the missional power of visible, practical, earthly unity. So we urge Christian sisters and brothers worldwide, for the sake of our common witness and mission, to resist the temptation to split the body of Christ, and to seek the paths of reconciliation and restored unity wherever possible.
2. Partnership in global mission
Partnership in mission is not only about efficiency. It is the strategic and practical outworking of our shared submission to Jesus Christ as Lord. Too often we have engaged in mission in ways that prioritize and preserve our own identities (ethnic, denominational, theological, etc), and have failed to submit our passions and preferences to our one Lord and Master. The supremacy and centrality of Christ in our mission must be more than a confession of faith; it must also govern our strategy, practice and unity.
We rejoice in the growth and strength of emerging mission movements in the majority world and the ending of the old pattern of ‘from the West to the Rest’. But we do not accept the idea that the baton of mission responsibility has passed from one part of the world Church to another. There is no sense in rejecting the past triumphalism of the West, only to relocate the same ungodly spirit in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. No one ethnic group, nation, or continent can claim the exclusive privilege of being the ones to complete the Great Commission. Only God is sovereign.
A) We stand together as church and mission leaders in all parts of the world, called to recognize and accept one another, with equality of opportunities to contribute together to world mission. Let us, in submission to Christ, lay aside suspicion, competition and pride and be willing to learn from those whom God is using, even when they are not from our continent, nor of our particular theology, nor of our organization, nor of our circle of friends.
B) Partnership is about more than money, and unwise injection of money frequently corrupts and divides the Church. Let us finally prove that the Church does not operate on the principle that those who have the most money have all the decision-making power. Let us no longer impose our own preferred names, slogans, programmes, systems and methods on other parts of the Church. Let us instead work for true mutuality of North and South, East and West, for interdependence in giving and receiving, for the respect and dignity that characterizes genuine friends and true partners in mission.
3. Men and women in partnership
Scripture affirms that God created men and women in his image and gave them dominion over the earth together. Sin entered human life and history through man and woman acting together in rebellion against God. Through the cross of Christ, God brought salvation, acceptance and unity to men and women equally. At Pentecost God poured out his Spirit of prophecy on all flesh, sons and daughters alike. Women and men are thus equal in creation, in sin, in salvation, and in the Spirit.
All of us, women and men, married and single, are responsible to employ God’s gifts for the benefit of others, as stewards of God’s grace, and for the praise and glory of Christ. All of us, therefore, are also responsible to enable all God’s people to exercise all the gifts that God has given for all the areas of service to which God calls the Church. We should not quench the Spirit by despising the ministry of any. Further, we are determined to see ministry within the body of Christ as a gifting and responsibility in which we are called to serve, and not as a status and right that we demand.
A) We uphold Lausanne’s historic position: ‘We affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are distributed to all God’s people, women and men, and that their partnership in evangelization must be welcomed for the common good.’ We acknowledge the enormous and sacrificial contribution that women have made to world mission, ministering to both men and women, from biblical times to the present.
B) We recognize that there are different views sincerely held by those who seek to be faithful and obedient to Scripture. Some interpret apostolic teaching to imply that women should not teach or preach, or that they may do so but not in sole authority over men. Others interpret the spiritual equality of women, the exercise of the edifying gift of prophecy by women in the New Testament church, and their hosting of churches in their homes, as implying that the spiritual gifts of leading and teaching may be received and exercised in ministry by both women and men. We call upon those on different sides of the argument to:
- Accept one another without condemnation in relation to matters of dispute, for while we may disagree, we have no grounds for division, destructive speaking, or ungodly hostility towards one another;
- Study Scripture carefully together, with due regard for the context and culture of the original authors and contemporary readers;
- Recognize that where there is genuine pain we must show compassion; where there is injustice and lack of integrity we must stand against them; and where there is resistance to the manifest work of the Holy Spirit in any sister or brother we must repent;
- Commit ourselves to a pattern of ministry, male and female, that reflects the servanthood of Jesus Christ, not worldly striving for power and status.
C) We encourage churches to acknowledge godly women who teach and model what is good, as Paul commanded, and to open wider doors of opportunity for women in education, service, and leadership, particularly in contexts where the gospel challenges unjust cultural traditions. We long that women should not be hindered from exercising God’s gifts or following God’s call on their lives.
4. Theological education and mission
The New Testament shows the close partnership between the work of evangelism and church planting (eg the Apostle Paul), and the work of nurturing churches (eg Timothy and Apollos). Both tasks are integrated in the Great Commission, where Jesus describes disciple-making in terms of evangelism (before ‘baptizing them’) and ‘teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.’ Theological education is part of mission beyond evangelism. 
The mission of the Church on earth is to serve the mission of God, and the mission of theological education is to strengthen and accompany the mission of the Church. Theological education serves first to train those who lead the Church as pastor-teachers, equipping them to teach the truth of God’s Word with faithfulness, relevance and clarity; and second, to equip all God’s people for the missional task of understanding and relevantly communicating God’s truth in every cultural context. Theological education engages in spiritual warfare, as ‘we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’
A) Those of us who lead churches and mission agencies need to acknowledge that theological education is intrinsically missional. Those of us who provide theological education need to ensure that it is intentionally missional, since its place within the academy is not an end in itself, but to serve the mission of the Church in the world.
B) Theological education stands in partnership with all forms of missional engagement. We will encourage and support all who provide biblically-faithful theological education, formal and non-formal, at local, national, regional and international levels.
C) We urge that institutions and programmes of theological education conduct a ‘missional audit’ of their curricula, structures and ethos, to ensure that they truly serve the needs and opportunities facing the Church in their cultures.
D) We long that all church planters and theological educators should place the Bible at the centre of their partnership, not just in doctrinal statements but in practice. Evangelists must use the Bible as the supreme source of the content and authority of their message. Theological educators must re-centre the study of the Bible as the core discipline in Christian theology, integrating and permeating all other fields of study and application. Above all theological education must serve to equip pastor-teachers for their prime responsibility of preaching and teaching the Bible.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. God’s Spirit was in Cape Town, calling the Church of Christ to be ambassadors of God’s reconciling love for the world. God kept the promise of his Word as his people met together in Christ’s name, for the Lord Jesus Christ himself dwelt among us, and walked among us.
We sought to listen to the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ. And in his mercy, through his Holy Spirit, Christ spoke to his listening people. Through the many voices of Bible exposition, plenary addresses, and group discussion, two repeated themes were heard:
- The need for radical obedient discipleship, leading to maturity, to growth in depth as well as growth in numbers;
- The need for radical cross-centred reconciliation, leading to unity, to growth in love as well as growth in faith and hope.
Discipleship and reconciliation are indispensable to our mission. We lament the scandal of our shallowness and lack of discipleship, and the scandal of our disunity and lack of love. For both seriously damage our witness to the gospel.
We discern the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ in these two challenges because they correspond to two of Christ’s most emphatic words to the Church as recorded in the gospels. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gave us our primary mandate – to make disciples among all nations. In John’s Gospel, Jesus gave us our primary method – to love one another so that the world will know we are disciples of Jesus. We should not be surprised, but rather rejoice to hear the Master’s voice, when Christ says the same things 2,000 years later to his people gathered from all around the world. Make disciples. Love one another.
Biblical mission demands that those who claim Christ’s name should be like him, by taking up their cross, denying themselves, and following him in the paths of humility, love, integrity, generosity, and servanthood. To fail in discipleship and disciple-making, is to fail at the most basic level of our mission. The call of Christ to his Church comes to us afresh from the pages of the gospels: ‘Come and follow me’; ‘Go and make disciples’.
Love one another
Three times Jesus repeated, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ Three times Jesus prayed ‘that all of them may be one, Father.’ Both the command and the prayer are missional. ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ ‘May they be brought to complete unity so that the world may know that you sent me.’ Jesus could not have made his point more emphatically. The evangelization of the world and the recognition of Christ’s deity are helped or hindered by whether or not we obey him in practice. The call of Christ and his apostles comes to us afresh: ‘Love one another’; ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’ It is for the sake of God’s mission that we renew our commitment to obey this ‘message we heard from the beginning.’ When Christians live in the reconciled unity of love by the power of the Holy Spirit, the world will come to know Jesus, whose disciples we are, and come to know the Father who sent him.
In the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and on the sole foundation of faith in God’s infinite mercy and saving grace, we earnestly long and pray for a reformation of biblical discipleship and a revolution of Christlike love.
We make this our prayer and we undertake this our commitment for the sake of the Lord we love and for the sake of the world we serve in his name.