Holistic Mission and Cape Town 2010

Vinoth Ramachandra has just posted an excellent article on holistic mission, which also points out some issues with the Lausanne 3 Congress in Cape Town.

The Church as the disciple-community of Jesus is called in the Great Commission to obey and teach others “to obey everything that I have taught you”. This is pretty comprehensive! How on earth did this Great Commission get reduced to preaching? Trying to select from the teaching of Jesus what we will obey, or trying to rank his teachings in a scale of “priorities”, is not to be a disciple of his. And, then, by what right do we call others to discipleship? Jesus expects that the Church that is proclaiming the Gospel among the nations is also living out that Gospel before the nations. Namely, she is committed to peace-making, hungering and thirsting after justice, loving her enemies, healing the sick, sharing wealth with the dispossessed, striving for unity in the midst of differences, and so on…

…I stated in my Blog observations of the Edinburgh 2010 conference (“A Centenary Celebration”, 11 June 2010) that clericalism has blighted the witness of the church. I repeat that conviction with regard to Lausanne. All the plenary speakers at the Congress were either pastors or “fulltime” workers in para-church organizations. They are not representative of the vast majority of Christians around the world who serve God as artists, engineers, lawyers, farmers, mechanics, biologists and a host of other “secular” occupations. They are the real “missionaries” of the Church, engaging with non-Christians on a daily basis, and whose work raises ethical issues that are at the cutting-edge of mission. As long as their voice is marginalized at such conferences, we shall continue to have such meaningless debates about “priorities”.

There is much to admire in Vinoth’s blog post. I am particularly grateful for the way in which he stresses that the Great Commission (as it is called) is about making disciples and can not and must not be reduced to proclamation evangelism. The church that proclaims the Gospel, must live it out. I also very much appreciate the comments about the Cape Town gathering in the second paragraph I have quoted above. The point that all of the main speakers were ‘professional Christians’ is well made and rather disappointing on reflection.

I also appreciate the fact that although Vinoth wrote his post in response to a famous speaker at Lausanne, he refuses to be drawn into a discussion of personalities both in his post and in the lengthy comments section. I wish more Christians would write like this.

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