Two of my favorite writers/bloggers are in Cape Town, South Africa for the Third Lausanne Congress on Evangelism. If you are unfamiliar, the Lausanne Movement began in 1966 with Billy Graham and 1200 delegates from over 100 countries. The second congress was in 1974 (the year I was born…no correlation however), in the Swiss Alps with 2700 participants from 150 countries. This week, the third congress in Cape Town has over 4000 people in attendance from 197 countries.
The purpose of the gathering is to address and engage the issues facing the Church and missions today. The stories I’ve been reading through Margaret Feinberg and Mary DeMuth are amazing. Stories of people who are:
Giving their lives
to bring Jesus to people who live countries where Christ may not welcome.
Today, Margaret wrote this:
A young man shared some of the failures of the global church that captivated me.
He highlighted the following:
The failure to understand the world we live in and have a Christ-like response. This statement has countless implications, one of which is simply—because we don’t understand Islamic world, Muslims are feared and despised instead of recognized as people Christ died for.
Another is that we have failed to realize the twentieth century has ended. We have not realized that the twentieth century missions movement has ended with it. As a result, we continue to offer clichéd responses to people and situations. Evangelism is not a one-off event in which we give no second thought to what will happen to people.
As a result, we need to have the courage to ask the question every generation must ask:
“What does it mean to believe in a crucified God in this time in this generation?”
Only then can we thoughtfully and prayerfully determine how to respond.
It seems to me that bringing the truth, love, joy and hope of Christ to people in the 21st century is largely dependent on relationships. Almost any where you are, or any where you go, there is information available. Just today, I talked with a woman who knows her Bible cover to cover but is not getting any peace, hope or joy from her knowledge. Transformation no longer occurs solely through fact-finding, but rather through the authentic display of truth, the tangible acts of kindness and the astounding effects of mercy and justice.
Authenticity is more essential than it ever has been.
In church this weekend, I was convicted by my response to the world around me and my failure to understand it.
It’s easy to talk about other faiths without actually being willing to go to people of other faiths and have a genuine, authentic relationship with them. Especially when it’s just next door.
It’s easy to talk about “culture wars” without actually entering into the culture and understanding why it resonates with people.
We can jump into all kinds of rhetoric about homosexuality without actually entering into people’s sexual brokenness, listening to their story or walking with them.
I can join a pro-life rally, I’ve even prayed in front of abortion clinics, but have I been willing to sit with someone who has actually had one, showing them kindness and love that is absent of condemnation and help them heal? Have I been doing enough to care for the children of those who have chosen life yet their kids are bound up in a broken foster system?
As people in church stood up and proclaimed Christ’s victory for pulling them out of pits of oppression, blindness, poverty and captivity, I sat convicted that as a follower of Jesus, I have no right to cry, warn others, grieve or talk about an issue, unless I’m willing to walk with a person, enter their story and stay with them through the pain regardless of the outcome. The outcome belongs to the God of the Universe. Not me.
Clichéd responses to people and their situations not only marginalize people who need Jesus, but they also become a stumbling block for those who are trying to seek Him for who He is. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Jesus ever reprimanded or corrected anyone without loving them, listening to them and making it clear He understood them.
Well… except maybe the Pharisees.