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EFAC Australia

Stephen Hale presents his package of Cape Town highlights.

The Lausanne Movement had a stunning beginning in 1974, followed by a difficult mid-life around the time of the Manila Congress in 1989. The Movement seems to have re-invigorated itself to play a key role in being a catalyst for world evangelisation. Cape Town 2010 was a remarkable gathering with 4000 delegates from 198 countries.
Cape Town didn’t just talk about the big shifts in global Christianity, it captured and represented them. There was a strong and continuing presence upfront of speakers and presenters from the majority church. The big shift from North to South, West to East was visible and obvious. When people talked of mission being ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ you could really sense that God is at work in all sorts of remarkable and surprising ways.
The genius of Cape Town 2010 was the decision to share the study of the Word and major themes in Table Groups. Over four thousand people met each morning in more than 800 table groups of five or six people. I had the privilege of leading one of these groups. In my English-speaking group were two from Europe, two from North America and one charming young Indian evangelist. It meant that a significant chunk of time was set aside for interaction and consequently there was a pervasive sense of community.
One of the surprising sub-presentations was on the Anglican Communion. I went along mainly to meet people, but I was deeply moved to hear Archbishop Robert Duncan—Anglican Church in North America—talk of how God was greatly blessing an amazing new church planting movement coming out of the wreckage of the dispute within the Episcopal church. His four themes were:
1. Standing in God’s truth raises God’s allies.
2. Humility builds God’s partnerships.
3. God does lift up the lowly.
4. Personal conversion deepens Gospel suffering and sacrifice.
His overall thrust is that God is scattering the proud and lifting up the lowly.
There were too many strands and ideas at the Congress to capture here, but some highlights for me were:
We live in an ABC culture, ‘Anything But Christianity’ (Oz Guiness).
To hear God speak we need to share the Word of God together. It needs to be read, taught and shared together.
Mission energy and initiative now lies in the global South and East.
God seems to be raising up a new generation of evangelists in Australia. They are mainly young and mainly Asian.
Discipleship should be our number one priority. This is just as big a challenge in Australia as it is in Africa, South America and Asia.
The evangelism and social concern debate is no longer the major issue. We need to be involved in both, with evangelism as our major priority.
Worship is more pervasively charismatic seemingly everywhere. At the same time there is a re-discovery of liturgy, the arts and drama.
If we are going to reach Australia for Christ we will need to partner with people of other nations to help us to connect cross-culturally.
Leadership development is still critical and has re-invigorated my commitment to Arrow Leadership Australia and the Arrow Alliance.
Overall it was a great blessing to be at Cape Town. God is at work in our world and we have much to be thankful for and to be challenged by.

Stephen Hale is Senior Minister of St Hilary’s and St Silas’ Anglican Church, Kew. He was previously the Bishop of the Eastern Region of the Diocese of Melbourne. Stephen is also Chair of the Australian Board of Arrow Leadership.

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