Welcome to the November issue of Lausanne Global Analysis.
I hope you enjoy the new look and feel of the LGA rolled out in the September issue. We look forward to your feedback on it.
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 an influencer you will be better equipped for global mission. 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 how we can respond to the challenge posed by the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. We highlight Europe as a strategic mission field. We continue our series of articles on Christian engagement with people of other faiths by looking at Confucianism and how we can present the gospel to cultural Chinese. And we consider how to engage the key US Millennials generation in mission.
‘Boko Haram’s ideology has four main features’, writes John Azumah (Lausanne Senior Associate for Islam and Associate Professor of World Christianity and Islam at Columbia Theological Seminary, Georgia, USA): opposition to aspects of Western education; opposition to the modern secular state of Nigeria; the desire to establish an Islamic caliphate; and the use of violence to achieve their goals. However, ‘stereotyping Muslims and problematising Islam will only alienate Muslims and create an “us versus them“ situation, which is exactly what the jihadists preach and are seeking to achieve’, he suggests. Instead we should collaborate with local and international ecumenical and interfaith groups to build bridges across communities, and offer resources for pastoral care and counselling, as well as share deeper theological reflections in the light of a widespread prosperity gospel that offers little in dealing with suffering and persecution.
‘Europe, the nursery of world Christianity, has itself become a most challenging and strategic mission field. What hope is there for the continent that has been fundamentally shaped by the gospel, but paradoxically, also by its rejection?’ asks Jeff Fountain (Founder of Schuman Centre for European Studies). We evangelicals have often developed blind spots, distorting our vision of Europe. However, if the story of Jesus was the most influential shaper of Europe’s past, why should that not also be true of the future? A transformed Europe will begin with transformed disciples, a transformed body of Christ. ‘As people of hope, pregnant with God’s future, we look expectantly past today’s crises to see how the Lord of history will fulfill his purposes for Europe and the wider world’, he concludes.
‘In view of the historical disrepute of the Christian faith among cultural Chinese, one persuasive way to present the gospel is by addressing what resonates with their aspirations and values—especially with regard to human flourishing as defined by the ideals of Confucianism’, writes I’Ching Chan-Thomas (Director of Training of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Asia-Pacific). Confucius’s ideal of human flourishing reflects the shalom that Jesus came to restore. While Confucius was right in his prognosis of humanity’s purpose, he was too optimistic about man’s ability to perfect himself. Instead of self-effort, Christ has already provided a way for us towards that end, which we may attain by trusting in him. ‘When the narrative of the gospel is presented this way . . . it seamlessly corresponds with Confucius’s ideals for humanity but with a realistic solution’, she concludes.
‘The largest sub-segment of American society, the Millennials (born 1980-2001) are coming of age’, write Steve Steddom (Executive Director of the Harry J Lloyd Charitable Trust) and Tom Harvey (Academic Dean of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies). They will receive the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in American history. Nonetheless, compared to previous generations, they are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated and less likely to believe in God. Thus, the impact of this on how Millennials give and to who is a growing issue for evangelical leaders. ‘The time is ripe for a compelling and coherent vision of holistic mission for this Millennial generation: a vision that embraces the present realities of technology, globalization, urbanization, and racial diversity, and is grounded on biblical theology that seeks to maximize our time in the redemptive period of the biblical narrative’, 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 January.