Welcome to the May issue of Lausanne Global Analysis.
Whether you are planning to read the full articles or just the executive summaries, we hope that you find this issue stimulating and useful. Our aim is to deliver strategic and credible analysis, information, and insight so that as a leader you will be better equipped for the task of world evangelization. It’s our desire that the analysis of current and future trends and developments will help you and your team make better decisions about the stewardship of all that God has entrusted to your care.
In this issue we address food security and its role in transformational development; overcoming Korean church divisions and encouraging cooperation among evangelicals globally in the aftermath of the WCC General Assembly; sports ministry and effective evangelism; and nationalisms and the issues they pose for evangelical mission.
‘Food security is generally not seen readily as either an issue that determines response to the gospel or one that determines the health of a community’, writes Ravi Jayakaran (Vice President, Global Programs, MAP International). However, both health and response to the gospel have strong relations to food security. Food security plays a significant role in transformational development, especially long-term sustainable transformation. Furthermore, it is not surprising that household food security status and response to the gospel are correlated. The gospel, which is integral and holistic, is both the proclamation and demonstration of the good news to the poor and needy. ‘For us as Christians, it is a call to integral mission that ensures that we proclaim and demonstrate the good news in all that we do’, he concludes.
The 10th World Council of Churches General Assembly (WCC GA) was held in Busan, Korea, in 20 October – 8 November 2013. The Korean Preparation Committee had the support of the WCC ecumenically aligned Tong Hap Presbyterian Church of Korea denomination. However, it generated strong opposition, led by the Hap Tong Presbyterian Church of Korea. ‘Now, after the WCC GA, the Korean church will most likely be more divided than ever’, writes Bong Rin Ro (Professor of Church History and Missions, Hawaii Theological Seminary). The WCC GA has, however, shown that the centre of gravity of the ecumenical movement has shifted to the growing churches of the Global South. ‘The role of The Lausanne Movement will become increasingly important. It can help bring unity among the evangelical churches within WEA and the evangelical leaders within WCC who are dissatisfied with WCC theology and practices’, he concludes.
‘No reasonable person can deny the importance of sport in the modern world’, writes Stuart Weir (Executive Director, Verite Sport). The FIFA Football World Cup takes place in Brazil in June-July this year. The 2010 World Cup was shown on TV in every country and territory on earth. Sports ministry broadly falls into two categories—ministry to sport and ministry through sport. In recent years, Christians have seen the potential of a major event in their country or city as an opportunity for service and witness, particularly at the Olympics and football World Cups. The incarnational model emphasis of sports ministry, where Christians enter the world of sportspeople, requires a huge commitment in terms of time, vulnerability, and intentionality in relationships. ‘This is a lesson for other spheres of evangelism that can sometimes emphasise a programme/event/“come to us” approach’, he concludes.
‘Nationalist and patriotic sentiments pose particular challenges for the church or mission agency leader responsible for managing multi-national teams’, observes Darrell Jackson (Senior Lecturer in Missiology, Morling College). Nationalists, above all else, issue a call to difference in the face of homogenizing forces that are global in nature. The wise team leader prepares for heated discussions within the team as fault-lines converge around patriotic or nationalistic feelings. Evangelicals may choose on occasion to express solidarity with their government, and it is not always wrong to do so. However, it is not possible to work with an account of nationhood if this means a moral partiality or politics of superiority. This perspective reflects a biblical theology of the nations. ‘Christian identity and allegiance can only ever be to Christ. All other forms of loyalty are temporal and will pass away, finally exposed as worthless by the Judge of every tribe and every nation’, he concludes.
More than 600 delegates gathered in Bethlehem in March for Christ at the Checkpoint 2014, the third such conference that asks ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Speakers from a wide theological and political range discussed how evangelical Christians should respond. ‘Christians have long been among the strongest supporters of Israeli policies. However, the conference highlighted the fact that evangelicals are taking in more of the Palestinian narrative and theological perspective, and are seeking a more balanced take’, according to Munther Isaac and Alice Su. The conference sought to ‘challenge evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel-Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God’. Followers of Jesus need to take their calling to be peacemakers seriously and engage positively. ‘If more Christians begin to develop this attitude, then we will see the hope that is desperately needed in the Middle East’, they conclude.
Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue of Lausanne Global Analysis will be released in July.