The Lausanne Movement: Celebrating God’s Faithfulness

As we approach the first anniversary of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, which was held in Cape Town in October 2010, it seems appropriate to look back, celebrate, reflect, and pray regarding the fruit of the congress globally.

The goal of the congress was “to bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching in every area of the world geographically, as well as in every sphere of society and in the realm of ideas.”

But what actually happened?

It is interesting to read the responses of participants with the benefit of hindsight. Many indicated that what they appreciated most was the opportunity for many leaders in the global Church to meet together. It was wonderful to be part of a body of 4,200 people representing 197 countries and to hear stories of what God is doing across the globe.

Unquestionably, the period between the second Lausanne Congress, which took place in 1989, and the third in 2010 was a period of unparalleled growth and expansion of the evangelical Church, with many countries experiencing birth and expansion. This includes Mongolia, Mauretania, Albania, and the rapid expansion of the Church in countries such as Nepal, Ethiopia, Algeria, India, China, Brazil, and Nigeria.

Furthermore, many appreciated the opportunity to meet in small groups and determined to copy this in other national conferences.

The congress was also characterised by a large number of young leaders—1,000 under age 40. Many appreciated the use of modern technology as exemplified in the creation of 650 GlobaLink sites in 122 countries, and the online Lausanne Global Conversation, where many of the presentations could be heard around the world.

Furthermore, who can forget the joyful and powerful testimonies from Korea, India, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, alongside high-quality challenging teaching? The focus on partnership as one of the key elements of the congress was also much appreciated, especially attempts to collaborate with the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). Our prayer is that many more national evangelical alliances will come into existence as a consequence of friendships which began at the congress.

The 1989 congress led to the creation of more than three hundred partnerships in mission around the world. There is already evidence that many new partnerships are being forged in attempts to strengthen our global witness and reduce competition. Many working in the field of media ministry are in consultation, for example, so that this form of ministry might be more effective in different regions of the world.

A surprising number of people made fresh commitments to engage in different expressions of Christian ministry in the days following the congress. For those who are interested, a summary of these responses can be viewed here.

Evidence of God at Work
We can already see evidence of three consequences which we trust under God will prove to be useful in bringing honour to his name around the world.

1. Evangelistic missions (Mission Africa) were held in over a dozen African countries in the lead-up to the congress. Lausanne partnered with African Enterprise (AE) and other ministries to create opportunities of the proclamation of the gospel in major urban centres throughout Africa. This was the vision of AE founder Michael Cassidy. These efforts had several distinctive characteristics: (1) they brought together evangelists from different parts of the world to work in partnership; (2) they focussed on major urban centres; and (3) they engaged both in proclamation and in ministries of compassion.

There was an overwhelmingly positive response in Cape Town to this effort and a request from across Africa and worldwide that this type of activity would continue. Further discussions have already taken place for follow-up evangelistic efforts throughout Africa. Other efforts are being planned in other countries, especially in Russia.

Blair Carlson, director of the Cape Town Congress, will concentrate on working with others to make the most of these opportunities. With the help of the Lausanne international deputy directors (IDDs), he is seeking to identify between fifty and one hundred evangelists who will be invited at regular intervals for fellowship, to share news and mutual encouragement, and to help create opportunities to work in evangelistic teams in different countries. For more information, contact Blair at bcarlson@lausanne.org.

2. The Global Executive Leadership Forum (GELF) took place alongside the main major plenary sessions in the congress. Over 150 business and other leaders met in this group. Under the leadership of Bob and Leslie Doll, along with GELF chairman Atul Tandon, GELF will connect and resource business leaders of global influence who have a profound commitment to Christ and the mission of the Church in the world.

3. There has been increasing appreciation for the framing of The Cape Town Commitment, which sought to bring together a series of historically-accepted convictions held by evangelicals and a call to action. This Commitment is available in more than twenty languages online and in print. For more information, contact Julia Cameron, jcameron@lausanne.org.

Several regional consultations have already taken place in different areas of the world, including Eurasia (November 2010), North America (April 2011), and Asia (Mongolia; June 2011). These have included discussion on how to use the Commitment in that region of the world. Further events are planned for Africa (Nigeria; September 2011), Caribbean (October 2011), Eurasia (Russia; December 2011), and the Middle East (Egypt; March 2012). In addition to these regional events, there have been many national consultations.

The Commitment’s hallmarks are its:

  • Biblicism (including quotations from twenty-two of the thirty-nine Old Testament books and twenty-one of the twenty-seven New Testament books)

  • Clarity of definition, especially related to evangelism and mission
  • Balanced statements on proclamation and compassion, other faiths, and truth
  • Comprehensiveness as it seeks to challenge the global Church to bear witness to Christ in every area of the world geographically and in every sphere of society
  • Call to action and partnership

There are already plans to use material from the Commitment and the plenary sessions and multiplexes to form the basis for a course to be made available to theological institutions, mission training centres, and churches. We want to make use of both the visual and written material coming out of the congress to educate and inspire believers to bear witness to Christ in the years to come. For more information, contact Evvy Campbell at info@lausanne.org.

Future of Lausanne
What will be the focus of The Lausanne Movement in the years to come? More than 150 leaders met in Boston in June 2011 to reflect over the past year and plan for the future. Executive chairman Doug Birdsall wrote about the commitments which came out of this gathering.

Lausanne will have the following focus in the next decade:

1. The provision of human resources as servants to the Church in seeking to encourage the application of the Commitment. This will be done through our team of IDDs:

Tom Lin (North America)
Las Newman (Caribbean)
Marcos Amado (South America)
Nana Yaw (EPSA)
Emmanuel Ndikumana (Francophone Africa)
Andrea Zaki (Middle East)
Anatole Glukhovski (Eurasia)
Ivan Satyavrata (South Asia)
David Ro (China/Northeast Asia)
Philip Chang (Southeast Asia)
Daniel Willis (South Pacific)
Europe (to be appointed)

Alongside the IDDS we hope to appoint a team of senior associates who have recognised gifts as servants and ministers to help in different spheres of Christian ministry.

2. The formation of Lausanne Global Analysis, a team under the leadership of Darrell Jackson, will provide regular global analysis for those interested in global trends and reflection on the state of the Church and its witness globally. Learn more at www.lausanne.org/briefing.

3. We will continue to focus on the identification and equipping of young leaders, with the provision of an international congress for young leaders in 2015.

4. We will provide occasional regional and international gatherings over the next ten years, including two international gatherings for leaders in mid-2013 and 2017, with the purpose of reflecting on progress relating to the Commitment and provision of an update regarding the state of the Church globally.

5. In the next five years we will hold a number of international consultations on key issues coming out of Cape Town. We are consulting with WEA and others about the issues to be addressed. The gatherings, for up to seventy people, will include topics such as media and the gospel; bearing witness to Christ in secularized and nominal Christian cultures; the challenge of bearing witness to Christ in Islamic contexts; the need to encourage the defence and articulation of biblical truth in the public sphere, including the world of academia, politics, and business; and a critique of prosperity theology. Further information on these consultations will be forthcoming.

6. We hope to provide a series of books arising out of these consultations that will lead to the provision of a library which will serve churches and biblical, missiological, and theological institutions. We will also provide resources on the Lausanne website and the Lausanne Global Conversation, which will be coordinated by Naomi Frizzell, chief communications officer, and her team.

Principles & Guidelines
We will be guided by several principles as we engage in these areas of ministry:

  • Avoid duplication of effort by others

  • Where possible, seek to partner with others
  • Focus on cutting-edge issues and provide a platform for evangelicals while endorsing the good work of others
  • Function as an “honest broker,” providing space for evangelical leaders to reflect and serve the global Church by providing creative and critical perspectives on the challenges facing us, in the belief that Lausanne fruit grows best on other peoples’ trees
  • Listen to and reflect convictions and concerns expressed by evangelical leaders from across the globe, avoiding domination of any one perspective
  • Live under the authority of scripture and commit ourselves to the task of passionately and effectively encouraging the Church to bear witness to Christ in every area of the world, which includes the expansion of the Church, as well as seeking a deeper penetration of the gospel and teaching of scripture in every sphere of society, including the realm of ideas
  • Work for depth through networking, rather than in isolation

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement as Lausanne moves forward into the future as we seek to be faithful to God’s calling and blessings.


Lindsay Brown is evangelist-at-large for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) and international director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He has been involved in student ministry for twenty-six years, as a staff worker in Wales, IFES regional secretary for Europe, and general secretary of IFES from 1991-2007.