Tom Gilson

Encouragement from the U.S. Lausanne Consultation

I’m sitting in the final session of the Mission America/U.S. Lausanne Committee Leadership Consultation in Orlando. “Lausanne” is short for the global Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, whose worldwide body met just a few months ago in Cape Town, South Africa. This meeting here has gathered almost 700 men and women, representing a large slice of America’s leaders in the effort to reach the world for Christ. We’re hearing also from global leaders, including Mrs. Esme Bowers from South Africa, whose talk this evening led me to write these impressions.

I’ve only asked this question of one other person here, but I strongly suspect many or most of them feel the same way he and I do: we know we’re here because we’re supposed to be and we have jobs to do, and we’re doing them; but there’s also a sense of “What am I doing here? How did I get blessed with this undeserved privilege?” I’ve been feeling a deep sense of wonder at God’s grace.

Impressions are all I can offer right now, but I am so encouraged by what’s going on here I want to at least offer some adjectives describing what I see here. This is the face of Protestant America’s leadership for world evangelization. The mood here is:

  • Worshipful
  • Filled with humor and joy (we’re having fun)
  • Humble: I am sensing zero sense of competitiveness among leaders here. I am not speaking out of blithe ignorance. I have seen ungodly competition before; now I see a humble desire to cooperate and help each other succeed. Leaders expressed open repentance for their pride and territorialism, and committed to moving past it.
  • United: seeking one goal with deep expressions of love
  • Prayerful: we have devoted significant time to seeking the Lord
  • Passionate
  • Thoughtful: table discussions and breakouts have been most insightful
  • Strategically aware: we are seeing the discovery of powerful new ways to demonstrate the grace and truth of Christ.
  • That we’re finally going global: It’s not about America anymore. We Westerners (descendants of Europe) are no longer the face of Christianity in the world. The typical Christian today is Asian, African, or South American. We’re catching on
  • That we’re making real progress toward indigenized Christianity and mutual sending and receiving of missionary resources.
  • And that we’re making real progress toward reaching the nations for Christ
  • The group of attendees here is
    • Multicultural
    • Multigenerational
    • Multi-gender
    • And above all, alive with hope in Christ and love for another

The sub-group I was with for breakout sessions made significant strategic progress toward more effective work by apologists and worldview ministry specialists: people who specialize in discipleship of the mind. That’s what I came here to work on, and I thank God that it seems we got somewhere. I still feel humbled by the privilege.

I wish I knew how to summarize it better. I wish every person who wonders about the leadership of Western Christianity could sense the real Christ-centered passion and joy here. This is not the leadership of American Christianity; it is only one slice of a large and diverse body of Christ-followers. But it provides a hope-inspiring view of God’s people in leadership. Christians, be encouraged! And by all means, jump on board! God is fulfilling his centuries-long plan of taking his name to all the world, and it’s a great time to be a part of it.

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