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October 9, 2019Lausanne

One-on-One with CJ Davison on Our Christian Witness Today

“Relationships, not programs, are foundational to Jesus’ kingdom.”
One-on-One with CJ Davison on Our Christian Witness Today
Image: qimono/Pixabay

Ed: How long have you been involved in Lausanne International and what is your current role?

CJ: I got involved with Lausanne at the end of 2015, serving on the prayer team for the Young Leaders Gathering in Jakarta in 2016. I am now involved with the Young Leaders Generation on the Missional Resource team.

Ed: Tell me about your current roll and what you do.

CJ: With the Lausanne Movement, our Missional Resource team is connecting young leaders with webinars, resources, and higher education scholarships. Most of my time, I have been working with schools to get scholarships for young leaders from the Majority world. It’s been amazing to see the Lord open doors for partnership with well-known and reputable schools who have identified Lausanne’s unique capability to identify rising (and often unrepresented) leaders from around the world.

Full-time, I am with a ministry called Leadership International. We equip Christ-like leaders with training and resources. I help set up locally-run biblical leadership training programs, and my passion is to serve church leaders in difficult and remote locations. Day to day, I assist our international directors and partners with fundraising, planning, and curriculum. Periodically, I travel around Africa and Asia to teach, get stories, and encourage our team.

Ed: Tell me about the gospel and the church in your part of the world.

CJ: My time as a missionary in Africa (and traveling overseas with my current job) has allowed me to see and understand the gospel more clearly. I still love my culture, but I more accurately see the pros and cons. We need the global church to influence us. We need meaningful cross-cultural engagement and relationships to refine our gospel, fuel our passion, and break down our cultural bias.

In United States, it seems the gospel is no longer perceived as good news. It’s inconvenient old news and we live in a generation that seeks popular and comfortable modernity. Sin is an outdated concept and therefore, “repent and believe” is not a message well received. In essence, American secular cultural has little interest in faith in God.

Unfortunately, parts of the American church have followed suit instead of leading culture. Like the Laodicean church in Revelation 3, we battle apathy, comfort and ignorance of holiness. The solution is to heed Jesus’ message to Laodicea, “buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” We need to open our spiritual eyes and perceive the eternal realities of holiness and true riches in the life to come. The simplest cure I know is meaningful engagement with the international body of Christ.

Ed: What is your impression of how the church is doing when it comes to sharing the gospel today?

CJ: In general, we are doing well at caring for people physically, showing the gospel through acts of service. We have lots of programs in churches to serve because we prefer the tangible. However, programs often become the end goal and even side-step biblical obedience. I pity the person who “gains the world” through our social programs and loses their soul. Let’s move the pendulum back to the middle. We must bolster our generosity with vocal proclamation. I, being influenced by culture, struggle in this area too, but we can learn a lot from our persecuted brothers and sisters overseas.

When Christians share the gospel verbally, it is often limited to the culturally appealing parts of the gospel and we leave out the soul-demanding, cross-bearing, self-denying parts. This is not because of a lack of knowledge. I think our spiritual muscles of faith are weak.

I do see hope for the American church—that beautiful gathering of Christ’s bride! We have a role to play in this global arena and I don’t think it is to lead by taking charge. I hope we find our place, in the final spread of the gospel, as encouraging and sacrificial servants.

Ed: What advice would you give to Christian leaders in how to lead well in the complexities of today’s world?

CJ: The world may be complicated and confusing, but Jesus’ strategy for reconciling the world is not! I’d believe there are two simple ways for everyone to participate more in God’s work.

1 – Make friendships missional

Give direction and purpose to the relationships God has given you. Make Jesus the focus and move the conversations to him. Don’t do ministry alone. Find brothers and sisters to run with in ministry (2 Tim 2:22). Talk about how you can serve each other and God together. Jesus’ vision requires reaching every ethnic group on earth, so develop relationships outside your culture. This will help you connect with God’s heart, know your diverse brothers and sisters, and find your place in the global church.

2 – Make missions relational

Ministry and missions get complicated when we stray from Jesus’ model, so make every expression of ministry relationally driven and every relationship missionally focused. This is how we bear lasting fruit (John 15-16). Relationships, not programs, are foundational to Jesus’ kingdom, and those start now. Deep, meaningful, life-giving, sacrificial and intentional relationships are hard to develop, but they are essential to finishing the Great Commission as a strategy and witness to the kingdom and King (John 13:35).

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One-on-One with CJ Davison on Our Christian Witness Today