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EFAC Australia

Evangelism

Have Evangelicals made any progress since Manila? David Williams investigates.


The first Lausanne congress in 1974 has been described as the place where evangelicals re-discovered their social conscience. The relationship between evangelism and social action was hotly debated, particularly as a result of the input of majority world theologians like Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar. Article Five of the covenant stated:
We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty.(1)
Alongside this commitment to social responsibility, the Lausanne covenant also affirmed in Article Six that ‘in the Church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary.’(2) Article Five and Article Six beautifully encapsulate the tension behind the conversation at Lausanne 1974.
In the years following the first Lausanne conference, holistic or integral mission has become accepted orthodoxy for many evangelicals. Chris Wright, convenor of the Theology Working Group for Lausanne 2010, endorses the following quote in his book The Mission of God:
There is no longer a need to qualify mission as ‘holistic’, nor to distinguish between ‘mission’ and ‘holistic mission.’ Mission is, by definition, ‘holistic’ and therefore ‘holistic mission’ is, de facto, mission.(3)
Despite this assertion, it was clear at Cape Town that the debate over holistic mission is still alive and kicking. This was most evident in John Piper’s bible study on Ephesians 3.(4) Piper expounded the cosmic purpose of God, who makes known his wisdom to the demonic powers of the universe through the mystery of the gospel. Jews and Gentiles together are objects of God’s wrath. God’s abundant, overflowing love puts the Lord Jesus Christ between us and God’s wrath. This reality confronts us with two truths: first, when the gospel takes root in our souls, it compels us to share Christ’s love. Second, when the gospel takes root in our souls, it awakens us to the horror of eternal perishing and impels us to proclaim ‘flee the wrath to come.’ Piper sought to recapture the language of the primacy of evangelism from Article Six of the Lausanne covenant with the following proposition: ‘For Christ’s sake, Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering.’
This emphasis was also apparent in Ajith Fernando’s exposition of Ephesians 1 and Vaughan Roberts’ exposition of Ephesians 4. Fernando stressed the vital importance of proclamation of God’s word, stating that ‘evangelism has never been popular, but people without Christ are lost for eternity.’ Roberts pointed to a famine of the Word of God today, arguing that there is no greater mission need than those who will minister God’s Word in the church and the world. Strikingly, the same theme was heard in a series of testimonies from majority world missionaries operating from contexts of poverty who have prioritised proclamation and disciple-making.

The Cape Town Commitment

The main output of the third Lausanne Congress is called the Cape Town Commitment.(5) Part One of the document was released on the last day of the conference. Part Two will be completed in December and will be a call to action arising out of the listening process of the conference. However, since Part One of the Cape Town Commitment was written before the conference started, the debate about the nature of mission that took place at the conference is not captured in this document.
This is especially significant because of the kind of document that the Cape Town Commitment purports to be. At?the conference the document was introduced to us as expressing the ‘core elements of our Biblical faith.’ This is a huge statement. If the document had been written as ‘a conversation about evangelical missiology’ it could provide a reference point for discussion and debate. But to present it in such creedal terms as a ‘declaration of belief’ means that it must bear very close scrutiny.
The Cape Town Commitment is framed in the language of love, structured around ten statements each beginning ‘We love …’. There is much that is good within these ten statements and a number of contemporary missiological issues are given attention. These include the fraudulent nature of prosperity teaching, the significance of Bible translation and the need to critique secular worldviews, to give just three examples. Creation care and environmental advocacy also feature at several points. However, the focus on God’s wrath and the reality of hell so powerfully articulated by Fernando and Piper is largely absent from the document.
However, it is not only conservatives who are unhappy. Blogging after the conference, Rene Padilla has written of his frustration that the pre-written conference statement was not debated and that there was no opportunity to change or develop the document. His particular concern, as in 1974, is that the language of primacy remains evident, when in his opinion it should be completely removed. So he argues that the distinction between ‘strengthening, inspiring and equipping the Church for the evangelisation of the world in our generation’, but only ‘exhorting Christians about their responsibility to participate in matters of public and social interest’ reflects an unhelpful and non-holistic balance.(6) He would prefer the language about social action to be as strong as the language about evangelism.
1974, 2010. What has changed?

David Williams is Director of Training and Equipping, CMS Australia, and leads the team at the CMS Australia Federal Training College, St Andrew’s Hall, Melbourne.


1. http://www.lausanne.org/covenant
2. Ibid.
3. Wright, C. J. H. The Mission of God, IVP, 2007:323, quoting Jean-Paul Heldt, “Revisiting the Whole Gospel: Towards a Biblical Model of Holistic Mission in the 21st Century” Missiology?32 (2004): page 157.
4. http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/detail/10970
5. http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/detail/11544
6. http://www.kairos.org.ar/blog/?p=469. Thanks to Peter Blowes, CMS Australia, for explaining this Spanish-language blog.

As an evangelist I am always on the lookout for useful tools to helpfully explain the gospel. But there are some that just make me cringe! In a recent catalogue there was the "Eternity is Forever Pen”:

'The ultimate carry anywhere evangelism tool! Pull out the spring-loaded hidden sheet printed with the Evangecube images to 'Simply Share Jesus' with anyone, anywhere. This incredible pen, starts with a 'wow' and ends with a gospel presentation.'

I can't even begin to describe my horror that people would think this was a good idea. BUT I can understand WHY they produced it. The designers recognise that telling the gospel should be a joyful priority for Christians, and that most people can't do it in any coherent way. So they have a meeting and someone says, "I know!!! We'll make a pen with a scroll out gospel presentation and then Christians will just be able to explain it."

Let me offer something else. I've had the opportunity to tell people the gospel hundreds of times, and so I developed my own gospel diagram. The idea is that I can explain the gospel in under a minute (see Bill Hybels', Just Walk Across the Room) and I just need a serviette and a pen.

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.

One of the trade-offs of living this close to shrubbery and paddocks and endless stretches of rough-hewn bushland is that you settle for bad coffee. The spectrum of what constitutes 'adequate arabica' becomes embarrassingly broad, when it once was unswervingly narrow (read: I used to live on Lygon Street, inner city Melbourne).

And so the thought of converting such baristas and/or café owners (those ones who touted their substandard wares) was not unproblematic. Did I have the requisite patience, and more to the point did my tastebuds have the requisite stamina, to withstand the onslaught? Would I be able to look a non-Christian friend in the eye again, when he'd clearly conflated the quality of the gospel with the quality of coffee I'd just bought him? Could I debase myself by chugging down litres of bad coffee, all in the name of Christ? Surely St. Paul's “libation” in Philippians 2:17 meant something else? And these were just the reasons not to evangelise.

Wei-Han Kuan introduces this Special Edition of Essentials.

You can’t go to Lausanne and not have your ministry changed. Or so I was told by one of its leaders. This edition of Essentials carries several reflections from EFAC members who attended the Third Congress on World Evangelisation, or Lausanne III, in Cape Town, South Africa. It is my hope that you will be encouraged to engage with the Lausanne Movement and appreciate the major role it plays in world evangelicalism.
Stephen Hale gives us his highlights package and pithy overview of what it might mean for evangelism in Australia.
David Williams brings his interest in holistic mission and missionary training to bear on his two reflections: one deals with the persistently vexed relationship between evangelism and social action, and the other with the notion of the shifting centre of global Christianity.
I asked two evangelists, Julie-Anne Laird and Eric Cheung, to respond to their Cape Town experience for us. So we have two perspectives: from a woman and a man, a lay person and a cleric, a university student worker and a parish minister.
Gordon Preece focuses on the ‘evangelism–social action’ chestnut, bringing his passion for workplace ministry to the fore.
Our national chairman, Glenn Davies, blogged during the congress. We carry an edited version of his final day’s reflection. You might be interested to read the entire blog at: www.sydneyanglicans.net
Congress sessions, testimonies, documents, plenary sessions, Bible studies, dramas—the whole lot!—are all available at the Lausanne Movement’s web site: www.lausanne.org

Wei-Han Kuan pastors young adults at St Alfred’s, North Blackburn, and is the editor of Essentials.

You might not have come across the term 'multi-level marketing', but you have certainly had it inflicted on you. The term specifically refers to business structures where the seller is compensated not just for the sales they make, but the sales that your contacts make too - the 'downstream effects'. This will be familiar to most people through networks like Amway or Tupperware, where people involved try to both sell their products to friends and convince them to become sellers, too. Multi-level marketing has been challenged, both morally and legally, for the way in which may sometimes be used to exploit small operators to generate profit. My own concern however, and the focus of this article, is not so much the 'multi-level' aspect as the 'marketing' strategies employed, particularly the implicit concept of using existing social networks to drive sales.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you heard any of these lines recently?

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