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Teeming Diversity
Image: Elyse Patten / Lausanne Movement

It began with crisis, and it ended in worship.

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, held October 17-25 in Cape Town, South Africa, was the first gathering of evangelical Christians to attempt to accurately represent the reality of today's church leadership. Though the West had a strong voice, its numbers were much smaller than the enthusiastic, unintimidated participants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Consequently, the congress had an atmosphere of continual discovery, as participants looked around and saw the teeming diversity of global faith. Ugandan Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi told a news conference, "It is a joy to see heaven begin here."

The Lausanne Movement used a highly decentralized process to select participants. A committee in each country chose delegates in numbers proportional to its nation's evangelical population, based on Operation World statistics. Out of a total of 4,000 delegates, the United States got to send 400, Canada 50, the UK 80, and China 230. Selection committees were to include the full spectrum of churches and ethnicities, to assure that at least 60 percent of their choices were under 50 years old, 10 percent under 30, and 10 percent from the "marketplace." Women were to compose at least 35 percent.

A point of contrast: At the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference exactly a century ago, there were 1,200 delegates: 500 from the U.S., 500 from Britain, 4 from Asia, and none from Africa. The world has changed, and Cape Town 2010 embodied the transformation.

The China Crisis

China's emergence as a robust participant in world evangelization is an astounding part of that transformation. Chinese took up Cape Town with enthusiasm, ...

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Christianity Today
Teeming Diversity
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In the Magazine

December 2010

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