The Consultation on World Evangelization (COWE)

Pattaya, Thailand

Held 16-27 June 1980 in Pattaya, Thailand, this Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization sponsored consultation gathered almost nine hundred people from around the world to consider strategic issues of reaching the unreached. Chaired by Leighton Ford and directed by David Howard, Pattaya’s primary focus was the seventeen mini-consultations included within the conference. Pattaya’s five goals included:

  • ‘to seek fresh vision and power for the task Christ has given to his church until he comes;
  • to assess the state of world evangelization, its progress and hindrances;
  • to complete an extended study program on theological and strategic issues related to world evangelization and to share the results;
  • to develop specific evangelistic strategies related to different unreached people groups; and
  • to review the mandate of the LCWE’ (Scott, 1981, 60-61).

While a larger statement was produced (‘The Thailand Statement‘), most of the consultations produced more voluminous reports, which became Lausanne Occasional Papers and were published separately. Organized to advocate a people group approach to mission strategy, Pattaya exhibited the lack of unanimity over the concept of ‘people’ found within evangelicalism at that time in that the consultations were focused on religious, ideological, or socioeconomic distinctions rather than ethnolinguistic ones.

While Pattaya did have good representation of non-Western participants, the lack of women in positions of prominence was evident and a point of contention for some in attendance (see Sand). Coming within a month of the WCC-sponsored Melbourne Conference (1980), if nothing else Pattaya highlighted the difference between the evangelical and the ecumenical orientation to the missionary task (see Bosch). Pattaya focused on evangelizing to unreached peoples, while Melbourne focused on the establishment of the Kingdom of God through acts of justice and liberation.

Bibliography. D. J. Bosch, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 36 (1981): 43-63; How Shall They Hear? Consultation on World Evangelization Official Reference Volume: Thailand Reports; F. A. Sand, Missiology 9:1 (1981) : 93-98; W. Scott, Missiology 9:1 (1981): 57-76.

This article, World Consultation on World Evangelism (Pattaya 1980), was written by by A. Scott Moreau for the Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Dec 20, 2000. Used by permission of Baker Book House Company, © 2000. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company.