Welcome to the November issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis, which is also available in Portuguese and Spanish. This issue is our 30th and also marks the 5th anniversary of our launch. We look forward to your feedback on it.
In this issue we mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with a call to Christian unity for the sake of the Great Commission; we consider how to stimulate theological resource-sharing between North and South; we address the issue of connecting across generations for global mission, drawing on lessons from the Lausanne Younger Leader initiatives; we suggest five simple truths for contemporary church planters; and we briefly review the new Operation World app which helps us to pray purposefully together for the world.
‘What exactly . . . might it mean for Protestants, and especially evangelical Protestants, to recognize the tragic dimensions of the Reformation?’, asks Thomas Albert (‘Tal’) Howard (Professor of Humanities and History at Valparaiso University). With the good outcomes from the Reformation came many undesirable things as well. Notably Christian disunity remains a massive impediment to the gospel itself—the proclamation of which is and should be evangelicalism’s strong suit. Scripture combines evangelical and ecumenical import. Sadly, church history in the post-Reformation era bears ample witness to the gospel-stifling role of Christian disunity. Evangelicals cannot walk away from Christ’s command that we all be one. Those who care about the Great Commission should at least make efforts to become more zealously embarrassed and saddened by church divisions. Yet embarrassment and sadness should not lead to despair. For it is often in our very weakness that Christ’s power can shine forth all the more. ‘Perhaps, . . . in our very weakness, in the very things that should embarrass and sadden us, our Lord—500 years after the Reformation—can still manifest his power in our faults, and look on us with undeserved mercy to do his work, somehow, despite the lacerations that we have caused in his Bride, the church’, he concludes.
‘A key dilemma faced by theological educators is that, whereas most students are in the South, many of the resources are in the North’, writes Kirsteen Kim (Professor of Theology and World Christianity in the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA). There is an imbalance between South and North in theological education that needs addressing. When we learn through our theological education to value the whole church, we will realize the importance of resource sharing. There are some great examples of sharing of both human resources and learning resources. Some projects not only share Northern resources with the South but also make Southern resources available globally, including in the North. This is another necessary part of correcting the imbalance in theological education. However, many Northern theologians do not yet recognize their need of reading insights from the South. This is their loss. The technologies are there to facilitate global theological resource sharing. There is a way but what is needed is a will. Resource sharing between North and South is not another means by which the former can help the latter ‘develop’ but a reciprocal activity with mutual benefits. It is missional theological education that values the whole church, which is the key to unlocking theological resource sharing between North and South’, she concludes.
‘Connecting missional leaders across generations is both historically and strategically at the heart of the Lausanne Movement’, write Lars Dahle and Rudolf Kabutz (Lausanne Catalysts for Media Engagement) along with Nana Yaw Offei Awuku (Lausanne Global Associate Director for Generations). The Younger Leaders (YL) initiatives within the movement provide key lessons for the global church. ‘Passing the torch’ of leadership to the next generation was a key concern at the first Younger Leaders’ Gathering (YLG) in Singapore in 1987, thus modelling the missional significance of intergenerational partnerships and friendships for the global church. Christ-like servant leadership across generations was a central theme at Malaysia 2006, thus demonstrating the missional significance of character and partnership to the global church. Learning from the biblical story and from one another’s stories were key themes at Jakarta 2016, thus exhibiting a forward-looking intergenerational missional learning community to the global church. YLGen, launched in 2016, models intergenerational missional discipleship and partnership to the global church. The article concludes with five key lessons for the global church from these initiatives. ‘A deep and prayerful implementation of these five lessons will equip the global body of Christ across generations of younger and experienced leaders to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching—in every nation, in every sphere of society, and in the realm of ideas’, they conclude.
Data from surveys and discussions organized by the Lausanne Church Planting Issue Network reveal a universal interest in planting healthy churches, as well as challenges common to church planters the world over. ‘After much sifting and reflection, we condensed this collective knowledge into Five Simple Truths about planting churches in the early twenty-first century, hoping to spark yet more discussion on the issues’, write Ron Anderson (Lausanne Catalyst for Church Planting) and Dave Miller (Church of God missionary to Bolivia). The most urgent challenge we face is to make disciples of the next generation. The good news is that young people are more interested than ever in knowing Jesus and becoming his enthusiastic followers if introduced to the gospel. Secondly, we must learn and follow basic biblical ecclesiology. The third simple truth is that every Christian is part of the universal priesthood of believers, and shares its responsibility and authority. Fourthly, Christians must collaborate with each other to impact the world. Finally, networks build unity in the Body of Christ. If church planting is to be effective in the twenty-first century, church planters must obey Jesus’ first century mandate to ‘make disciples of all nations’. ‘This’, they conclude, ‘is the simplest truth of all about church planting’.
‘We have more access to information today than ever before, but it seems harder than ever to discern the truth of what is happening in our big, wide, world’, writes Jason Mandryk (author of Operation World). It is a full-time job just filtering through noise, parsing the agendas, and finding out about more neglected areas and issues. The recently released Operation World app is a useful tool for believers who care about our world. Anyone with an Android or Apple internet-enabled device, anywhere, can use the app for free. It should be a useful source of prayer material for people and places where there is little available. Every day there is just one prayer point for one nation or region. When you pray, you are joining with many thousands of others, around the world, praying for the same thing. Operation World has researched every country so that it can mobilize the body of Christ to pray for what matters most. It sees intercession as the means to unleash the inestimable power of God into our broken world, bringing redemption, reconciliation, and healing. ‘Why not download the app, and join us and thousands of others in our journey of praying for the world?’, he concludes.
We hope that you find this issue stimulating and useful. Our aim is to deliver strategic and credible analysis, information and insight so that as a leader you will be better equipped for the task of world evangelization. It’s our desire that the analysis of current and future trends and developments will help you and your team make better decisions about the stewardship of all that God has entrusted to your care.
Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue of The Lausanne Global Analysis will be released in January.
David Taylor serves as the Editor of the Lausanne Global Analysis. David is an international affairs analyst with a particular focus on the Middle East. He spent 17 years in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, most of it focused on the Middle East and North Africa. After that he then spent 14 years as Middle East Editor and Deputy Editor of the Daily Brief at Oxford Analytica. David now divides his time between consultancy work for Oxford Analytica, the Lausanne Movement and other clients, also working with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Religious Liberty Partnership and other networks on international religious freedom issues.