As all historians recognize, time elapsed is a major asset for objectively evaluating events. Twelve months is not a great deal of time, but it may be sufficient to permit a somewhat relaxed backward look at the International Congress on World Evangelization, held July, 1974, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Not only is the congress itself history, but so are the organization of the Lausanne Continuation Committee for World Evangelization (LCCWE) and its first official meeting in Mexico City last January.

I am among those who all along have understood the phrase “world evangelization” in its narrowest and most literal sense. My attendance at the congress, my participation on the LCCWE, and this evaluation itself are all based on the conviction that God brought these events to pass for the chief purpose of leading multitudes of unbelievers all over the world to faith in Jesus Christ and into responsible membership in Christian churches. Those who have understood the congress differently will, of course, evaluate it within other frames of reference.

Three Torpedoes

Only narrowly did the congress escape a strong attempt by some participants to divert the emphasis from world evangelization to other (and perhaps equally commendable) aspects of the total mission of the Church. If I may be permitted a rather crassly military analogy, these diversionary tactics remind me of torpedoes fired from a warship. Any one of them was powerful enough to have destroyed the central evangelistic nature of the congress had it made a direct hit. Only after the LCCWE had met in Mexico City six months after the congress did it become reasonably certain that none of the torpedoes had struck the target and that evangelism had emerged intact.

Specifically, what ...

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