4200 Participants Interactively Discuss the Good News in a Digital World
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, 18 October 2010—The Cape Town 2010 Congress began here Sunday evening with colorful pageantry and hi-tech dramatic presentations featuring a distinct African flavor providing an update on the history of missions over 2,000 years, the current state of the Church and changes in the world over the last four decades.
The mission of The Lausanne Movement is to strengthen, inspire and equip the Church in our generation. The first Lausanne Congress held in Switzerland in 1974, resulted in the Lausanne Covenant that provided a theological framework for world evangelization; the second Congress held in Manila in 1989 facilitated 300 cooperative partnerships to carry on the task.
Cape Town 2010 will build on these two historic events, with more practical foci to identify the important issues and problems facing the Church and discuss collaborative solutions that will set the course for world evangelization and missions for the next decade and beyond. In some respects, Cape Town 2010 is serves as the “FedEx of world missions,” requiring global leaders and practitioners to assemble in one place for relationship, reflection, renewal and reconciliation with the intended result of a Congress Diaspora energized in its mission with greater passion, synergy and effectiveness.
During three years of planning, regional Lausanne leadership identified the greatest challenges for the Christian church in the next decade, all of which come under six core issues common to all regions. One issue will be introduced as the theme for each day, including Day One – Truth; Day Two – Reconciliation; Day Three – World Faiths; Day Four – Priorities; Day five – Integrity; Day Six – Partnership. Afternoon multiplex sessions reinforce these topics and are followed by evening plenary sessions highlighting the work of the Church by continent around the world.
The first full day of the Congress on Monday explored Truth, and the external pressures of pluralism and digitalization in today’s globalized world. The 4200 participants from 197 countries seated at tables of six engaged in robust discussion of questions after each daytime speaker. They considered the contradictions of pluralism and the active evangelism of atheism in light of biblical truth.
‘The only hope for people is to hear the word of God and to believe in Jesus,’ said Sri Lankan ministry leader Ajith Fernando. ‘When we realize that people are eternally lost and the gospel is the only way for their salvation, then the task of taking the gospel becomes a very serious obligation.’
According to Carver Yu, President and Professor in Dogmatics at the China Graduate School of Theology, pluralism has rendered all dialogues to be meaningless. ‘Truth cannot prove itself by anything other than itself,’ he said. ‘Jesus did not prove himself by appealing to anything other than himself and the transformative power of his life. Likewise, we can only prove to the world that Jesus is the truth by his transformative power in our lives, which is something that the world cannot refute — not even the pluralists.’
Several speakers emphasized that the challenges of globalization are tempered by unprecedented opportunities that cannot be ignored, such as the prevalence and influence of new and social media, which open fresh means for conversation on a global scale. ‘New technologies are turning every Christian organization into a media outlet,’ said Lars Dahle, principal of the Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication.
Author and social critic Os Guinness noted that the Christian faith is the largest, fastest-growing and first truly global religion, with the most diverse community on earth. Access to global conversations is bringing about a convergence on major issues facing the world, and Christians can play a critical role in shaping these conversations.
‘If ever we needed people with a deep belief in humanity, in truth and in freedom, we as followers of Jesus find that rooted in our faith, and want to be a part in that constructive way forward,’ he said. He further challenged that in the next 40 years of their adulthood, today’s twenty-somethings will see all of the great questions of the world, including economic, demographic, environmental and nuclear, come together.
However, Billy Graham, who was not able to attend due to age and health, put that in perspective in his greeting at the opening session. Reading from the 91 year-old evangelist’s letter that reflected on the many changes in the world since he founded The Lausanne Movement in 1974, Doug Birdsall, executive chair challenged, ‘But remember, some things won’t change – the love of God, the Good News and Christ’s commandments.’
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