As we look toward the Fourth Lausanne Congress in 2024, we look back at the impact that Lausanne congresses and gatherings have had on the global church.
Six years ago when I first joined the Lausanne staff, I had never heard of the Lausanne Movement before. What soon dawned on me, however, was that though I did not know about the Lausanne Movement, I had been living all my life in the missio-cultural waters created by it.
I learned that words used commonly among missional Christians like ‘unreached people groups’ and ‘the 10/40 window’ had originated at Lausanne congresses. I began stumbling across The Lausanne Covenant as the statement of faith for various and unrelated Christian organizations. And more than anything, I began to see how the web of friendships underlying the world of global missions was intimately anchored in Lausanne. From creation care to mental health, workplace ministry to families and children, it seemed there was no arena of global mission that did not bear Lausanne’s quiet watermark.
The Lausanne Movement began in 1974 when Billy Graham decided to gather together all the influential friends he had met on his many travels around the world, so that they could partner together for mission. The Lausanne Movement was born out of this First International Congress on World Evangelization in 1974, where 2,300 people from 150 nations, representing all branches of the Christian church, signed their names to The Lausanne Covenant—a moment that has been called one of the miracles of modern church history.
That miracle continues today at various Lausanne gatherings, congresses, and everyday interactions. Just like in 1974, every single Lausanne leader today is a seasoned leader in their own right. But when they are gathered together, they are not there to be plenary speakers or celebrities. They are together with friends on a shared mission. These friendships span IFES and WEA, Asia and the US, charismatic and Reformed churches, Latin America and Africa. Boomers sit at tables with Gen Zers, and proclamation evangelists warmly embrace those working for social justice.
These relationships could potentially harbor every inclination toward competition, animosity, and bitterness. But the beauty of the gospel at work today is that these leaders choose instead what has been called ‘the spirit of Lausanne’—humility, friendship, prayer, study, partnership, and hope. It is a spirit we need very much today.
A ministry partner recently said that when she supports the Lausanne Movement, she is not supporting just one organization or one denomination, but the whole church. She helps us understand the answer to the question, ‘What is the Lausanne Movement?’
Simply put, the Lausanne Movement is the table that makes room for mission-minded believers from every corner of the world to befriend and collaborate with each other. It is the friend of the global church, and an expression of the global church itself.
Some have asked why we should continue to invest in Lausanne congresses. Why plan, organize, and spend money to continue bringing the global church together? Why block off vacation days and buy plane tickets to fly across the world?
I believe it is similar to the joy many of us felt when Covid-19 lockdowns ended and we were able to eat with friends again, or to worship in our sanctuaries alongside our church family. We do it because we want to be together. And as we’ve seen time and time again through our Movement, something indescribable, mysterious, and powerful happens when the global body of Christ gathers in one room.
Please prayerfully send in your nominations for Lausanne 4 and Seoul 2024 by 15 April.
We’re now preparing for the 2024 Fourth Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Seoul, which is also the 50th anniversary of the Lausanne Movement. Part of our preparation has been to take a dive into our article archives and look back on all that God has done the past fifty years.
It’s like looking through an album of precious friends gathered around the table. Against the backdrop of passing catastrophes and dilemmas, Lausanne has journeyed alongside the global church through the decades, seeking continually to point to the source of all friendship, love, and mission: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this way, the story of the Lausanne Movement is inextricable from the story of the global church.
We warmly invite you to explore the photos above and the stories below as we journey toward the 50th anniversary and Seoul 2024. May they inspire you anew to bring the whole gospel to the whole world in friendship and partnership with the global church, and to see how God is writing his story among the nations even today.
Stories of Impact
The younger leaders of today will be the key leaders of the world in 2050. Here’s what we’re doing to empower the next generation to lead not just then, but now.
The Global Workplace Forum of 2019 equipped leaders to take up the helm in one of the most overlooked opportunities for mission: the workplace.
Stories from Cape Town 2010
How Two Breakfasts in Cape Town Led to a Movement for the World’s Cities
Tim Keller, Bob Doll, and Mac Pier met at Cape Town 2010 as a pastor, marketplace leader, and non-profit expert. Together, they set out to change New York City.
An evangelical businesswoman and an Orthodox archbishop met at a hotel lobby at the Third Lausanne Congress. Their friendship has led to the formation of an initiative.
A North Korean student takes the stage at Cape Town 2010, not knowing how her life would be changed from that moment on.
Where the 10/40 Window Meets the Coffee Bean Belt
A partnership born from the Third Lausanne Congress is radically changing the coffee business in Uganda.
Stories of Partnership and Reconciliation
The Friendship that Changed the World of Bible Distribution and Translation
The healthy partnership between Bible agencies today can be traced to a small but mighty workshop that took place at the Second Lausanne Congress in 1989.
In 2015 Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians came across dividing lines to work toward reconciliation.
Who’s Next After Billy Graham? The Global Network Carrying Forward a Legacy of Evangelism
One of the largest networks for evangelists today began at an unconventional Lausanne gathering held on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.