The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) met 19-24 August 2007 for its eighth international conference by Lake Balaton, Hungary. The worldwide network brought together over 160 participants from eighteen countries, representing sixteen agencies and congregations involved in Jewish evangelism. The LCJE began in 1980 and is among the longest standing specialized people group networks in the Lausanne Movement.
The theme of this quadrennial conference was “Jewish Evangelism—Telling the Story.” The week of meetings provided a platform for the unique network of organizations and individuals to gather information, coordinate strategies, consider trends and stimulate theological thinking and missiological research in the cause of advancing Jewish evangelism.
Notable at the meeting was the participation of Doug Birdsall, executive chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE), the sponsoring body of the 1980 Pattaya Consultation on World Evangelization, from which LCJE was launched. Birdsall affirmed a special place for Jewish evangelism on the Church’s agenda: “The story of Jesus Christ is a message to be shared with the whole world, but especially with the Jewish people, as it is the fullest expression of God's love relationship with his people.”
His statement was particularly fitting in light of the location and timing of this conference. Eighty years earlier, the International Missionary Council launched a similar network for Jewish evangelism that met in Budapest, Hungary, with a similar mandate. The 1927 conferees described a unique opportunity to share the gospel in the Europe of their day.
Eighty years later, LCJE faced some of the same issues reported by their predecessors. The 1927 conference Budapest Report spoke about Jesus’ love for his own people and the desire of the Council to communicate that good news to Jewish people of their day. They described and discussed various outreach efforts. They also catalogued trends in Europe affecting European Jewry at that time.
With appreciation for the previous work of the Budapest conference, LCJE network participants told the current story of Jewish evangelism. They affirmed the gospel of Jesus Christ remains the only hope of salvation for the Jewish people. Today’s LCJE leaders share the same commitment to communicate the whole gospel with Jewish people worldwide.
In 1927, the Budapest Report described various trends observed in European Jewry at the time. They could not have known the horrific events that would break out in the subsequent decade, resulting in the Holocaust. The Report noted a growing interest among Jewish people regarding their destiny and a possible homeland. Today, on the eve of the State of Israel’s sixtieth anniversary, LCJE conferees rejoiced in the stories of unprecedented openness and new opportunities as the gospel is penetrating Israeli society. They also received reports of important Christian ministry to Arabs and meaningful efforts undertaken toward reconciliation between Arabs and Jews in Christ.
Telling the Story—Many Places, Through Many Means
The daily program in Keszthely, on the shore of Lake Balaton, began with prayer and devotions. Each day, a theme was set through dramatic presentations of Bible parables staged by Avi Snyder and Rob Styler. Jarmula Band from Krakow, Poland, blessed the gathering with East European klezmer music dedicated to the Lord Jesus. An Israeli based trio of David and Lisa Loden and Ann Hilsden led worship music daily.
Each day was dedicated to exploring issues related to telling the gospel of Jesus in many places and by various modern means. Two days were set aside specifically to report what the Lord is doing among Jewish people in Eastern Europe and in Israel. Missiological progress reports were given from those regions.
Another day was devoted to exploring issues, like Diaspora, intermarriage and post-modernism, impacting Jewish evangelism. Specifically noted was the trend of rising anti-Semitism in Europe. Ironically, and without any connection, on the day immediately after the LCJE conference, an anti-Semitic nationalist group in Budapest, known as Magyar Garda, held a political rally and an induction ceremony for fifty-six new members. Some LCJE conference participants were eyewitnesses to the event.
Each of the regional LCJE networks (Europe, Finland, Israel, Latin America, North America, Australasia and Japan) met independently within the conference.
LCJE is the only global organization in existence today that brings together professionals in the field of Jewish evangelism.
The LCJE has several purposes:
- Arranging consultations that are useful for practitioners in the ministry of Jewish evangelism
- Sharing information and resources
- Studying current trends
- Stimulating thinking on theological and missiological issues
- Strategizing on a global level so that more Jewish people will hear and consider the good news of Jesus
The LCJE is an affiliate network of the LCWE. LCJE membership is open to agencies and congregations engaged in Jewish evangelism, scholars and writers in the field, individual agency workers and congregational leaders. Membership in the network begins with a recommendation by two current members. Applicants for membership must embrace the Lausanne Covenant as a basis for fellowship and agree to pay annual dues.
Lake Balaton Conference Statement
LCJE published the Lake Balaton Conference Statement out of the eighth international meeting in Hungary. It is available on the LCJE website. It is also below:
“Therefore, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism calls on the whole Church to join in presenting the whole gospel of Messiah Jesus to the Jewish people worldwide.
- We affirm the good news of Jesus is the only hope for the salvation of the Jewish people. If Jesus is not the Messiah for the Jewish people, then neither is he Christ for the nations. Either Jesus is the Messiah for all, or he is not the Messiah at all.
- We rejoice over the reports that Jewish people are coming to faith in Jesus and that the number of Messianic congregations is growing.
- We assert that the worst possible Christian injustice to the Jewish people would be to deny them a hearing of the gospel, which is their only hope of salvation.
- We encourage evangelism to all the children of Abraham according to the flesh and pray for efforts toward reconciliation between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews in Christ.
- We denounce contemporary expressions of anti-Semitism and prejudice against the State of Israel and urge the whole Church to join us in speaking against such sentiments, recognizing that they hinder Jewish people from hearing the gospel of Christ’s love.
- We commend the LCWE publication “Jewish Evangelism—A Call to the Church” (Lausanne Occasional Paper 60) to increase understanding regarding Jewish evangelism.
- We challenge ourselves to minister with an openness to God’s call and a willingness to collaborate in new approaches for communicating Jesus’ message in a postmodern world.
- We call on the whole Church to support and actively partner in creative, thoughtful ways to share the whole gospel with the Jewish people.”