For 35 years one of the simplest ways to define evangelical Christianity has been to refer to the Lausanne Covenant, the document that emerged from the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974. Convened by American evangelist (and Christianity Today founder) Billy Graham and British clergyman John R. W. Stott, the congress brought together 2,300 church and missionary leaders from 150 countries, including a substantial number of leaders from the then-nascent evangelical communities of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The Lausanne Covenant became a milestone in evangelical history, confidently proclaiming the continued need for evangelism when much of mainline Protestantism had lost confidence in biblical faith, while also reclaiming social responsibility when many fundamentalists disdained justice as a "liberal" concern. (Read the Lausanne Covenant at Lausanne.org/covenant.)

In October 2010, the Lausanne Movement will convene another congress, this time in Cape Town, South Africa. The majority of participants will be from the Majority World, where evangelicalism is now thriving dramatically. For the next year, Christianity Today, in partnership with the Lausanne Movement and fellow Christian publications around the world, will address some of the principal issues that confront the contemporary church as we seek to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel in all its historic depth and breadth. We are calling these articles the Global Conversation.

Taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, in obedience to the Great Commission, is an inescapable imperative. A definition of world evangelization that has won assent from Christians of all stripes was memorably summarized in the Lausanne Covenant—the ...

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