The Lausanne movement, why it matters and why I am going to the Younger Leaders Gathering this week (Pete Nicholas)

7th August 2016
Pete Nicholas

The modern missionary movement

The Lausanne movement started in 1979, getting its name from the location of its first Global Congress. Its aim was and still is to connect and resource evangelical leaders from around the world to empower the church to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Before the Lausanne movement started, in 1910 there was a great mission conference at Edinburgh where the Western church aimed to continue to take the gospel to the unreached parts of the world. It was a time of great excitement fuelled by the optimism of the late 19th Century missionary endeavours. The conference led to the often stated goal of evangelising the world ‘within a generation’.

However, political factors such as two World Wars and the rise of Communism, combined with theological factors - particularly the growth of liberalism within the church, swiftly made it a movement in crisis. Consequently in the late 20th Century there was a growing consensus within the evangelical church for a need to recapture God’s vision for reaching people from every tribe, nation and tongue.

The start of the Lausanne movement

In Billy Graham (the American Evangelist) and John Stott (the then Rector of All Souls Langham Place) the missionary movement had two key personalities who could convene the first Lausanne Congress. Over 2,700 delegates attended from over 150 countries. The congress concluded with the writing of the Lausanne Covenant as a global statement of gospel priorities and faith, and a continuation committee to ensure World Evangelisation would be kept as a global priority.

Two further Congresses would be organised over the coming years: Manilla in 1989 and Cape Town in 2010, both seeking to address the particular challenges to the gospel and to global mission in their own time. Similarly both Congresses produced statements of intent and faith with the Manilla manifesto and the Cape Town commitment (note the alliteration!).

Growing younger leaders

After each of the Congresses there has been a conscious effort to catalyse younger leaders, recognising their crucial role in the future of world mission. As a result this Gathering in 2016 will be the third ‘Younger Leaders Gathering’ with over 1000 delegates convened from around the globe. Its aim is to envision, train and network the next generation of gospel leaders so that they can equip local churches around the globe for the task of taking the gospel to the nations.

How the Gathering fits with Inspire’s vision

Our vision at Inspire is to be a united and diverse gospel community inspiring London with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are passionate to see God’s glory extended throughout London as people come to know Jesus Christ and live for him in all aspects of life. However we recognise that:

  1. Our focus is on London just because London is the city that God has placed us in but really our concern is to see God’s will be done and his kingdom come across the globe - London is just one part of that bigger vision.

  2. Living in a global city like London we necessarily must have a global vision for world mission. We are both a city that receives and sends people to and from countries around the world. Consequently just as Paul was able to say of the church in Rome that their faith was ‘being reported all over the world’ (Romans 1:8) so for us privileged to be a church in London we have global links and ministry opportunities.

So is a privilege to be invited to the Gathering, and whilst I go seeking to serve brothers and sisters in Christ who will be gathering from around the world, I am also going because the cause of taking the gospel to the nations is the cause that is on God’s heart and on our heart at Inspire.

So would you join with me in praying for the Gathering and for the wider cause of world mission?

  • For spiritual and practical protection, particularly amidst the climate of recent terrorist attacks - a global gathering of Christian leaders is an obvious target

  • For good contacts to be made and particularly one or two long-term friendships and partnerships for the gospel

  • For the speakers and facilitators at the conference that God would give them the right things to say and a trust in the power of God’s word

  • For gospel unity amidst a very diverse gathering of people from very different walks of life