The Reformation of the 16th century was a revolution of mythic proportions. Scholars and pastors with fresh scriptural insights took advantage of revolutionary changes in the arts, science, humanities, politics, travel, and commerce to turn the Western world upside down. It marked both a return to biblical roots and a leap into the future. In the 21st century, what major changes in the church should Christians be hoping and working for? In the final installment of the Global Conversation, four key leaders from four continents reveal their hopes.
A key problem of evangelical churches worldwide is the unilateral emphasis on numerical growth. For the sake of it, the gospel is watered down, church services are turned into entertainment, and Jesus' commandment to make disciples is replaced by a strategy to enroll as many converts as possible. In my frequent travels, I find an increasing number of megachurches with a high rate of numerical growth but a low degree of concern for faithfulness to the whole gospel and the ethical dimensions of whole-life discipleship. One wonders what has happened to the vision of whole-life discipleship projected in 1974 by the First International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne I) in its celebrated Lausanne Covenant.
Lausanne I is regarded by many as the most significant world evangelical gathering of the 20th century. It is no exaggeration to say that the main significance of the conference was the rediscovery of the absolute importance of the socio-political dimensions of the gospel for church life and mission. According to paragraph five of the Lausanne Covenant, because "God is both the Creator and Judge of all people," Christians "should share his concern for justice and reconciliation ...1
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