The Fourth Lausanne Congress—From Switzerland to Satellite Sites

How the Lausanne Movement continues to impact worldwide mission in 2024

Justin Schell 15 Feb 2024

Reaching the World in 1974—Poland and Switzerland

In 1974, two relatively small bands of people put into action a plan to reach the world.  

The first was based in Poland. It resulted in the construction of the Warsaw Radio Mast, the tallest structure ever built until the Burj Khalifa surpassed it in 2008.

The 2,120-foot mast was intended to transmit propaganda around the world, spreading the message of the Communist Party far and wide. It was said that with fair conditions, the radio transmissions could be picked up in Australia, North America, and even Antarctica. Today, in the internet age, it seems a little thing but imagine the novelty of such widespread communication in 1974. It must have taken daring and determination, all in order to spread the news of the Communist Party.

The second group gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland just two months after the Warsaw Radio Mast began to transmit. After a few days together, this group signed a covenant committing themselves to spreading not propaganda, but the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all peoples and places. It wouldn’t be centralised anywhere but would seek to mobilise the whole church to reach the whole world. It wouldn’t rely on a single radio tower, but the willing participation of churches, agencies, institutions, networks, and individual Christians to accept and own their role in the Great Commission. It was not a mission for the glory of a political party, or an individual’s agenda, but for the glory of the King of Kings.  

This second gathering was the First International Congress on World Evangelization. The theme rang loud and true, ‘Let the Earth hear His Voice’. The vision was markedly different from the Warsaw Radio Mast, but in many ways, also full of daring and determination.

It wouldn’t rely on a single radio tower, but the willing participation of churches, agencies, institutions, networks, and individual Christians to accept and own their role in the Great Commission.

The congress would lead to the launch of the Lausanne Movement. This was not anticipated at the outset, but rather a natural development of something that was sparked in the hearts and minds of the men and women from nations around the world who gathered to strategise, plan, and engage one another for the purpose of furthering the Great Commission. The congress in 1974 was the catalyst that sparked a global movement.

The Fourth Lausanne Congress—Everyone is Invited

In September 2024, the Lausanne Movement will host the Fourth International Congress on World Evangelization in Incheon, South Korea. Much has changed in the past 50 years, including the collapse of global Communism. But the need for the church worldwide to work together to complete the Great Commission remains. For the first time ever, almost any Christian in the world can participate in the International Congress on World Evangelization. The internet has made something that once demanded the building of a record-breaking tower a relatively easy feat today. Fifty years ago, the connectivity we have now was something people only dreamed of. 

For the first time ever, almost any Christian in the world can participate in the International Congress on World Evangelization.

In light of this, Lausanne is seeking to transmit some information of its own. While there will be 5,000 Christian leaders gathered onsite for the congress, possibly millions more will have the opportunity to participate in satellite sites. Christian and mission groups, large and small, around the world are invited to participate in the upcoming Fourth Lausanne Congress through a curated and connected satellite site experience.  

These satellite sites will receive expositions of the book of Acts from a team of global speakers, engage with contemporary missiology and research, and foster opportunities to collaborate over pressing missional gaps and opportunities. This will be an opportunity to hear updates and personal testimonies of what the Lord is doing in each region of the world, and really engage with members of God’s church from all over the world.

Any Christian group is invited to host a satellite site that will mirror the on-the-ground programme for the Fourth Lausanne Congress, capturing the salient moments of the gathering and delivering those to the sites. This will allow tens of thousands of Christian groups to wrestle with the remaining gaps in the Great Commission and how their church, NGO, workplace group, institution, mission agency, network, or team might partner towards filling those gaps.

The Challenge of Collaboration

In 1991, the Warsaw Radio Mast collapsed. It was said to have been earth-shaking and terrible to behold. Between harsh weather conditions, poor maintenance, and a struggling economy, a tower that high (and a vision that big) couldn’t hold together. They even ran out of the right paint colour when repairing some of the fraying cables, and it only took a gust of wind to curl the mast into a twisted pile of material. The ambitious—at one time tallest—tower fell with a mighty crash.

While our ambition is for the church ‘to declare and display Christ together’, our mission faces some tough conditions as well. The winds of spiritual warfare and man-made philosophies are strong. Certain world regions face missional and physical challenges and restrictions. But we are praying that the barriers to people joining a satellite site will come down and we are seeing an eagerness within the church, like never before, to work together. East, West, South, and North—followers of Jesus are ready to collaborate towards the fulfilment of the Great Commission.  

There may not be a satellite site in Antarctica, but we are praying and working towards multiple sites in every country. Can you imagine the mission atmosphere in a city with several dozen host sites? What might God do through hundreds of sites in your country, city, and community? While Lausanne has historically focused on serving and informing church and mission leaders, every believer needs to hear this call to engage in the mission of King Jesus.

Would you help us spread the word? Could you host a site? Would you activate your network to see dozens of sites set up in your city, country, or region? How will you join the global church to see the acceleration of global mission and the furtherance of the Great Commission throughout the world?

Photo Credits

Image by Rafandalucia from Wiki Commons
Image by Gov of P.R,Poland from Wiki Commons
Image by NASA from Wiki Commons