John Stott - The Lausanne Movement
The Lausanne Movement derives its name from the Congress on World Evangelisation held in Lausanne Switzerland in 1974. The Congress and the movement that it spawned rested on the twin pillars of Billy Graham and John Stott. Billy and John had met each other during the famed London Crusades held in 1954 in Harringay and then at Wembley the following year. After that a strong personal bond saw them join in many endeavours together in the decades that were to follow.
Time magazine described the Congress as 'possibly the widest ranging meeting of Christians ever held'. John Stott gave the opening address 'on the nature of biblical evangelism' and was asked to provide a biblical definition of the five words: 'mission', 'evangelism', 'dialogue', 'salvation' and 'conversion'. John played a key role in helping the Conference to reconcile opposing views around the issue of evangelism and social responsibility.
John Stott is uniquely associated with the Lausanne Covenant, which was endorsed by the Congress. Prior to the Congress the main papers had been submitted. John was asked to write a draft statement, which would be presented at the outset of the Congress. During the Congress John was the Chair of the Drafting Committee. As the Congress progressed they modified the draft in response to the speeches given and feedback from the various groupings. A second and then a third draft were produced. After this John worked through two nights without sleep to sift through 3,000 responses and to produce the final draft for the Congress to endorse. If you've ever been to one of these large International Congresses you will know the amazing array of views and perspectives as well as the differing cultural expressions of the many countries represented. All of John's skills came into play: his remarkable biblical and doctrinal clarity, his willingness to listen, his craftsmanship of words, his openness to new ways of looking at things and his extensive engagement with the worldwide church.
Leighton Ford described the final form of the Covenant as 'one of the centuries exemplary statements on Christian beliefs, concerns and commitment'. Several of the paragraphs represented long agonising over precise words and meanings. On the final day John gave an extensive presentation on the Covenant. He worked his way through each section with both remarkable clarity as well as the passion that lay behind the words. 2000 members of the Congress endorsed the Covenant and it is still regarded as an authoritative document today.
John went on to be a key member of the Lausanne Continuation Committee as well as the Theology Working Group.
The Lausanne Movement has gone on to be one of the key gathering points for the global church. In particular it has reflected the key shift from North to South and West to East that have characterised the past 50 years. It has led to significant levels of collaboration and cooperation for the sake of the extension of God's kingdom and the service of humankind. As the Christian church has grown dramatically as well as it's global spread, Lausanne and the Covenant have been a key group for enabling clarity of mind and purpose that is faithful to both God and His word. None of this would have been possible if the Lord had not raised up John Stott to be the unique servant of God and his church in his day.
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