Why Lausanne...Still?

Uniting Global Christians for the Great Commission

E.D. Burns | 28 Sep 2023

In the history of God’s people, it seems that the purposes of God launch forward when his people give consecrated and concentrated devotion to spreading his gospel. On the shoulders of many theologians who have clarified the gospel, Christians in the 21st century have unprecedented opportunities to bear witness to Christ and his gospel. The Lausanne Movement has always been a network that transcends denominations and finds itself within the Protestant tradition of evangelical witness through word and deed. The Lausanne Movement has been distinctive in many ways, and by God’s grace, it will continue.

A History of Identifying Hidden Issues

Since the First Lausanne Congress, the Movement has developed terminology to highlight pressing challenges to the Great Commission. Lausanne was instrumental in promoting to the global church the concepts of unreached people groups, holistic mission, diaspora, orality, church-planting, the 10-40 window, and polycentric collaboration for global mission, among other concepts that have become standard evangelical vocabulary. These categories and more have influenced global Christian leaders for decades. In the wise providence of God, Lausanne has effectively sounded clarion calls for many overlooked and forgotten needs affecting the progress of the Great Commission. 

A Spirit of Prayer, Friendship, and Unity

Lausanne is not a confessional or denomination entity. It is intentionally a network that seeks to gather influencers to collaborate for accelerating global mission. It unites around a common evangelical commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission. At the heart of Lausanne is a hopeful spirit of friendship that celebrates what God is uniquely doing in diverse parts of the world. Lausanne is a decentralized network of influencers on mission together, resting upon the God of all grace who delights to answer the prayers of his people. Because God is a God who loves to hear his children call upon his name, Lausanne unashamedly promotes the centrality of prayer among friends united in mission together. Influencers within Lausanne all have strong passions for their area of service, and we don’t always agree on everything. Yet we do agree that God has promised to fulfill the Great Commission. We do agree that he will use his global church to that end. We love one another and pray with one another, giving thanks to God who uses imperfect people for his perfect plans.

Together is Better

God’s people are broadly diversified across the world, to the praise of his glory. This was not always the case. We are grateful for the challenge of gathering Christian influencers from everywhere to everywhere. The Lausanne Movement faces different but good challenges as we head into the Seoul 2024 Congress. Where the first congress gathered unknown Christian leaders with unknown mission needs, this next congress will do this and more. God is at work with unique people in diverse settings around the world, and Lausanne wishes to promote collaboration for acceleration of global mission. Lausanne is convinced that together is better. For the first time in human history, Christians have untold opportunities to communicate and travel in ways that would take days, months, and even years to accomplish not many generations ago. For the first time, ‘together is better’, is not just an overly ambitious slogan. It can be and is a reality for the global church in prayerful unity for finishing the mission.


Together – Accelerating Global Mission

We can go further, faster, and more effectively together

Providing Clarity for State of the Great Commission

In previous generations, Great Commission needs were unknown because of lack of access to information. In this generation, many needs are unknown because of the excess of information. Lausanne seeks to collaborate with global mission influencers to distill and bring clarity to the state of the Great Commission. For launching forward in the 21st century, the global church needs a baseline of where we are at in the progress of the Great Commission. And we cannot do it isolated from one another. We cannot afford to say, ‘I don’t need you.’ 

Keeping in mind the rising generation of Christians, Lausanne is poised to produce content unlike any other institution or network in the world. Because Lausanne’s reach is vastly global and not restricted to one language or region, we can curate and summarize those needs around the world that pose as threats and obstacles to the progress of the Great Commission. However, Lausanne is gathering such data and reporting on the state of the Great Commission in hope of the triumph of Lamb, for these are not obstacles at all; they are indeed opportunities to shine the light of Christ. Lausanne wishes to instill hopefulness in the global church that God is mighty to save by many or by few, that his arm is not too short to save. The forthcoming State of the Great Commission Report will be a key moment in the Lausanne 4 journey in this regard. 

Leveraging the Lay Leader and Creativity

Lausanne has never been an exclusive network of professional ministers and missionaries. To be sure, some of our great influencers and leaders have been among those formally trained for mission and theology. Nevertheless, the lifeblood of the network are those unpublished, unnoticed, quiet saints who serve faithfully in the workplace, politics, education, media, and at home. Lausanne has always endeavored to empower and promote the lay leader who has a big heart for reaching their neighbor in word and deed in creative ways that correspond to their unique gifts and passions. Lausanne listens to the needs of Christian influencers around the world. Lausanne then seeks to connect those influencers with their ideas to launch gospel movements among the most resistant, forgotten, and unreached peoples and places. This is not a task merely for the clergy. This a task for the laity to go into the world and do good as God has uniquely equipped them, testifying to the gospel of grace in every sphere of society.

Please Join Us

Lausanne needs the prayers of God’s people to continue in its mission with fortitude and faithfulness. There are always temptations toward mission drift. Lausanne desires to bear fruit for eternity by launching gospel servants into the remaining harvest field. Please join us on your knees in prayer, crying out to the God who loves to save sinners. May we rejoice in that great day when our Lord shall return and gather us together to himself as he makes all things new. 

E.D. Burns serves as president of a discipleship and leader-training ministry to Natives in Bush Alaska. He has been a long-term missionary in the Middle East, East Asia, and most recently in Southeast Asia, where he teaches at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary. He is an adjunct professor at seminaries around the world.