Children at Risk: Vulnerable Agents of God’s Work

Susan Hayes Greener 02 May 2017

The Lausanne Occasional Paper (LOP) on Mission with Children at Risk has been a large undertaking, and is now available in the Lausanne content library.

Promoting a high view of Scripture and a high view of children, the LOP envisions Children at Risk (CAR) as whole and complex human beings and vulnerable agents of God’s work. The LOP asserts that the kingdom of God that Jesus preached inherently affirmed the roles of children in church and mission, and challenges the church to consider how adults contribute to the risks children face and prevent the church from benefiting from CAR as partners in the mission of God. Finally, the LOP calls the church, organizations, academic institutions, and networks to action to, for, and with children at risk.

The new LOP expands upon the Quito Call to Action, which was written following the Lausanne Consultation on Children at Risk (CAR) in November of 2014. More than 60 church leaders, missiologists, theologians, practitioners and Christian NGO network leaders from five continents gathered in Quito for this important consultation. Menchit Wong, who served as the Lausanne Catalyst for Children at Risk, and Anne-Christine Bataillard, Lausanne Catalyst for Evangelism among Children, invited participants to respond to the section on children found in The Cape Town Commitment. The CTC issued the following challenges to the church: 1) to take children seriously through fresh scholarship; 2) to train people and provide resources to meet the holistic needs of children in their respective contexts; and 3) to expose, resist, and take action against all abuse of children (II-D-5). For the first gathering, we decided that our focus should be on developing a sound theological foundation by answering the following question: What would it look like if the church viewed children at risk as strategic and indispensable co-participants in the mission of God?

Concepts from plenary presentations, case studies, panel presentations, and group discussions were interwoven into two documents. The first publication was the consultation statement: the Quito Call to Action on Children at Risk (2015), which defined the term ‘children at risk’, called the church to repentance and action, and introduced the idea of mission to, for, and with children at risk, moving children from being merely objects of mission to co-participants in the mission of God. These key concepts were expanded upon in the new Lausanne Occasional Paper on CAR.

From 14-17 May 2017, our group is reconvening in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA, for the Second Lausanne Forum on Children at Risk. The forum will respond to the LOP and form collaborative action plans for the global church to prioritize action and mission to, for, and, particularly, with children at risk. We desire to develop leadership teams who will commit to mobilizing collaborative action in the global church, making our plans a reality around five issues: advocating for children in refugee communities to the church, amplifying children’s voices, multiplying training programs for mission with CAR, re-imagining the CAR paradigm, and dialoging about future Lausanne CAR regional forums.

Children at risk are all around us—in the news, in our communities, in every region of the world, and in our churches. We hope that this brief introduction to the work of the CAR issue network will motivate others to see the relevance of children at risk for every Lausanne issue network, to read our work and to become partners with our efforts!

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