Lausanne–Key Issues Facing Church

Subject: Prayer for Cape Town 2010

Dear friends,

Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation will be held Cape Town, South Africa, 16-25 October 2010.

4000 Christian leaders will attend from over 200 countries. It may well be the most internationally representative gathering of Christian leaders ever.

When so many of God’s people gather together, it could be a time for God to break through with a message that the church needs to hear. This is what happened at the first congress in 1974. Will you please pray that God would break through in his own way and that the leaders will be open to hearing from God and adjusting their plans in order to welcome that.

Here is my list of some of the some major challenges facing the congress and the church relating to the work of World Evangelisation.

  • How should we maintain the passion for reaching lost people with the gospel of eternal salvation at a time that the evangelical church has (thankfully) discovered some of the other aspects of the mission of the church, such as social involvement, commitment to social justice and the environment? I fear that many of us we are failing here. I cannot see how we could maintain a biblical balance unless our hearts break from a burden over the eternal lostness of people apart from Christ (Rom. 9:1-3).

  • How should we respond biblically to the enormously popular teaching of prosperity theology, which is attracting millions of people today?

  • How should we best relate to Mus..m people at a time when many Christian are concerned with a threat from them, though the church’s primary concern should be sharing the good news of Christ with them?

  • How can we respond adequately to the challenge from religious pluralism on the one hand and religious extremism on the other, both of which oppose the idea of conversion to Christ? How can we wisely and boldly proclaim the gospel in that environment?

  • In an age when truth and proclamation are being devalued, how can Christians proclaim and believe that, in Christ, God has given us excitingly living and powerfully life-changing truth which every single human being desperately needs. As it is for all people everywhere we call it Absolute Truth. We have always needed evangelists for the gospel, now we also need evangelists for truth. If people did not believe that truth was important they would not see any necessity to consider the gospel.

  • O that the leaders would catch a glimpse of the body of Christ and return with a strong biblical theology of the body so that they would never think of their work or church without reference to the rest of the church universal. Evangelicals have a weak theology of the body. Perhaps this is as a result of discovering the glorious experience of individual and personally experienced salvation which differed from the once prevailing idea that salvation came through the church and its sacraments. So we have shied away from insisting on the inseparable link between salvation and the body of Christ.

  • Always in history, exciting periods of growth in the church have been connected to persecution. How can the church persevere faithfully in the midst of this and never lose its cutting edge by trying to avoid suffering?

  • I would like us to be open to any surprising and unplanned messages that God wants to give to the church.

  • May the impact ecclesiastical politicians and of people who come there for personal gain and advancement in the ecclesiastical ladder be minimal. And may that not hinder the work that God wants to do through this congress.

  • May many younger leaders leave with their hearts burning with a passion to make a difference for Christ in the world and with new ideas about how they will do that.

My responsibilities at this congress are as follows:

  • I will give the opening Bible exposition on Ephesians 1. This will be the first major address at the congress.

  • I am part of the group that is drafting a statement of convictions for the congress. This has been going on for over 10 months, and will come out in the form of a booklet.

  • I will speak on “A Passion for the Gospel and Evangelism” at the Global Executive Leadership Forum which consists of a group of 150 business and strategic ministry leaders that meets daily alongside the congress. I will speak at the meeting at this forum hosted by my publisher, Crossway.

  • I am hoping that as an “old man” I may be an encouragement to some younger leaders.

  • I will preach at a Church on Sunday.

Thanks for your prayers,

Your fellow servant of Jesus Christ,

Ajith