Pew Survey of Evangelical Christian Leaders from Cape Town 2010

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I was privileged to be at Cape Town 2010.  During the Congress the Pew Forum conducted a survey of the 4,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries.  This was the most wide ranging gathering of Christian leaders in the modern world, the results have now been released.

There were some amazing statistics that came out:

  • 4% of respondents do not believe that Christianity is the one true faith.
  •   2% believe that the Bible is NOT the word of God.
  • 3% believe that life evolved via a process with which God was not involved.
  • 7% believe that God will grant health and wealth to those who have enough faith.
  • 3% believe that it is not essential to follow the teachings of Christ in order to be a good Evangelical Christian.
  • 4% say that believing in reincarnation is compatible with being a follower of Christ.
  • 5% say that it is okay to believe that Jesus is NOT the only way to salvation.

This surprised me, given we had to be recommended by a national organising group, and then had to fill in a long questionnaire before we were approved to attend.  Why would you want to go if ?

Books I have read: The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry

I heard Ajith Fernando speak at Cape Town 2010 – the Third Lausanne Congress on the theme of suffering and was captivated by his blend of biblical exposition and life application.  Following that I picked up The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry.

Ajith Fernando knows about suffering.  He has seen horrendous suffering during his ministry as national director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka.  Since the 1980s that island nation has been torn and ravished by civil war and political corruption.  Over 60,000 Sri Lankans have died in sectarian violence, and another 20,000, mostly rebel Tamils, “disappeared” after their arrest.  Just when a tentative peace between warring factions was taking shape, the Indian Ocean Tsunami stuck, leaving more than 31,100 dead, 4,100 missing, and 519,000 homeless.

Despite the suffering all around him, Ajith Fernando has found a transcending joy, a joy that transforms pain and suffering into a closer walk with Jesus Christ.  This book is greatly needed, especially in the UK, where much of Christianity has become shallow, self-centered, and materialistic.  Fernando contends that Christians are not only not exempt from suffering and pain, but they are called to suffer for the Lord’s sake and for the good of others.  Yet through that sanctified suffering – even because of it – the Christian finds true, lasting joy.

Though specifically written for those in the ministry, the book’s truth, which draws heavily upon Scripture, applies to every Christian. The book’s thirty short but rich chapters take us to a higher plateau in our Christian life, and to greater service for the Master.

Using The Cape Town Commitment

Check out this message from Lindsay Brown, International Director: The Lausanne Movement:

The Cape Town Commitment is getting out widely around the world, in many languages. If we have discerned aright what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches, we are stewards of a significant document.

Please join us in praying that all evangelicals in leadership will want to find their place in the outworking of The Commitment. Could you ensure those in your sphere know how to purchase a copy? For the UK, you can purchase at bulk discount from www.10ofthose.com/partners/lausanne  It is also available through other internet sellers, from Christian bookshops, on Amazon etc.

The Commitment calls for response: from ministry leaders at all levels, and from leaders in the workplace. With the Didasko File format, people could start by familiarising themselves with sections over a coffee break or as they travel, reflecting on how it should impact their own context.

We encourage:

  • Church leadership teams to identify one or two areas for your local church to focus on.
  • Christians in the workplace to discuss sections on pages 35-39 with their fellow Christians, and to identify one or two areas to use or modify for their local context.
  • Mission leaders to urge their staff to identify one or two areas for each local ministry.

We would love to see students in theological colleges, and in Christian Unions, Navigator and Agape groups work through it.

We are at present compiling a study guide to The Commitment, which will be published in early 2012. We will let you know the publishing date as soon as we are able.

Books I have read: Jesus Driven Ministry

Back in October I went to The Third Lausanne Congress: Cape Town 2010, during which I heard Ajith Fernando speak on Ephesians 1.  Following that I got hold of a copy of Jesus Driven Ministry to hear some more of his thoughts on ministry, especially his concept of joy and suffering in ministry.

It came at a time when I was really wrestling with what the foundations of ministry should be about: what is success in ministry – is it longevity, is it numbers, is it missionary activity or is it a mixture of all three?

In many ways this book is Fernando’s wrestling of what ministry should look like and the lessons he’s learnt in over 30 years of ministry with Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka.  This book hasn’t really taught me anything new, although it pulled into one place a number of different facets: God’s affirmation, retreating from activity, leading from a spiritual base, growing team and focussing on younger leaders.  Instead it came at just the perfect time for me to hear an elder statesman of the Christian world share his struggles, his joys, his pains, his experience of ministry.

If you haven’t read this book do get hold of it, hopefully it will inspire you as much as me to continue on the journey.

 

 

Cape Town 2010 Blogger Network skype call

I’ve just finished a Skype call with those from the Cape Town 2010 Blogger Network – Lausanne Movement.  Some exciting conversations about the influence and opportunity that blogs and social media in general had at the Cape Town 2010 conference.

It was great hearing the difference our blogs made: at the start of the conference when there were big struggles with the internet the blogs were the main way of live material reaching the rest of the world, the carrying on of discussion beyond the Congress, seeing how blogs have influenced events post-Lausanne, and of course, all the new networks and friendships that have been developed through the Blogger Network.

Jon shared how he’ll be pulling together some of the key blog posts for a Cape Town 2010 e-book during the Christmas period.  That could be a crucial piece of new media for the congress.

Naomi shared four key thoughts:

  1. The Cape Town Commitment: the first part of the Cape Town Commitment was handed out at the Congress, the second is due in the next few weeks, and there is a hope that people can tweet and blog that to make it more accessible.  Many of the older key leaders who don’t necessarily tweet or blog themselves are keen to see this happen so that it can have a bigger impact with churches, organisations and individuals around the world.
  2. Additional media: providing new videos, radio content and the possibility of SMS technology for Lausanne to receive feedback.  Reviewing how people communicate within regions, and looking at those who aren’t connected to the existing internet strategy, so far example bringing in feedback from faxes and maybe even letters.
  3. Translation: there was a real focus on the importance of translation and making things accessible to as many language groups as possible, Lausanne is reviewing to see how it can continue to support as many languages as possible with the infrastructure that currently exists.
  4. Listening arm: a fantastic data mining team listened to the conversations on the blogs and social media to feed back into the process.  Lausanne wants to continue this, so as to create dialogue on the major issues facing the church.  Lots has happened with many of the major topics but there is a hope to bring in other topics that are critical to many churches and groups around the world.

There are key meetings of the Lausanne Leadership Executive in January 2011 and a wider leadership team of approximately 200 in June 2011.  In addition many of the national groups are meeting over the coming months.

We then chatted about the different opportunities for the Blogger Network post Cape Town – we agreed to pray over the next few weeks as to how God might be using us together as a blogger.  A couple of suggestions came up:

  • The need for a purpose for the Blogger Network – the why is more of a challenge than the how.  The original purpose was to look toward Cape Town 2010 itself, now it needs clarity on the purpose.
  • A specific network call and blog posts each month on a more detailed topic, which can be linked back to the Congress discussions.
  • Looking at whether we could see a draft copy of the second part of the Cape Town Commitment to help feed in thoughts for the Leadership Executive’s meeting in January as they look to disseminate it.

Youthwork the Conference: Reminded of the urgency and importance of the gospel…

Here’s a blog post that I wrote for the Youthwork the Conference blog on my experience at Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress:

Towards the end of October I spent 10 days as part of Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress.  The main theme of the congress was the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world, it was a conference on the evangelisation of the world.  One of the main points that jumped out to me was both the urgency and importance of the proclamation of the gospel and the need for more creativity in our proclamation.

Reminded of the urgency and importance of the gospel

In the West we seem to have forgotten the urgency of the gospel (in its broadest sense) people need hope now.  I was struck by the passion and the evident effect that some of the evangelistic projects are having around the world.  For example, a youth minister from Germany shared how they’re doing an evangelistic project called ‘House’, which is literally reaching thousands of young people with the gospel through one-off evenings around the country.  Whilst I’m not convinced that their model would work in the UK, I was challenged by the need to find new creative ways to proclaim the gospel and to do so urgently.

Reminded of the size of the need

The need of the world is huge.  In the local estate on which our church is placed it’s estimated that nearly 500 young people don’t have a relationship with Jesus, that’s my mission field.  The mission field of the world includes 2 billion children, millions of people who can’t access scripture in their language and so on – it is huge – it’s the kind of thing that only God can help us to resolve – we need to trust in Him more in our evangelism.

Out of this flows a need to rethink evangelism into our UK culture, and then for each of us as individual youth workers to reflect on how evangelism is best done in our community, with our unique blend of young people, volunteer leaders and resources.

Let me tell you about a couple of examples that excite me in my ministry:

  • Lydia, one of my team, has a passion for young people to express their faith creatively so she’s recently co-ordinated, with a couple of young people, an art exhibition in our town leisure centre displaying over 30 pieces of art from young people expressing their faith and emotions.
  • One of the stand out statistics from the Congress was that 25% of people coming to faith do so through media, often media on their phone.  Whilst I find the statistic hard to believe, it is clear that the role of the media, technology and specifically social networking needs to increase in our evangelism.  Questions like how we use facebook, youtube, and twitter not just to share information or attract young people to specific events, but how we seem them as a mission field in their own right are increasingly important.  This is leading us to look to use a flip camera to record the testimony of some of our young people and then upload onto facebook and youtube.

What thoughts do you have on how we could be more creative in our evangelism?

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Books I have read: ‘New Life’ in Serbia … the Novi Sad Christian Fellowship Story

I’ve been reading ‘New Life’ in Serbia … the Novi Sad Christian Fellowship Story by Vera and Danny Kuranji.  Danny was part of my table-group at Cape Town 2010.  Some of the stories he shared spoke very powerfully of God’s care and miraculous power and the couple’s amazing faith.  When I asked Danny more about these he gave me a copy of their book.

The book charts their journey, leaving the former Yugoslavia for Canada, being called back to Serbia as missionaries and then living through the civil war, the genocide, and the NATO bombing.  In most of the chapters is a short testimony/faith story of someone who is part of the Novi Sad Christian Fellowship, these stories add a sense of reality and community to the biography.

Frustrations with Cape Town 2010

 

Here are a few of my frustrations with Cape Town 2010:

Needed more prayer time

Throughout the week there was a sense in the teaching and the conversations that prayer was the foundation for ministry, and yet at no time was there extended opportunities to pray – even on the night of prayer we were interrupted with a new theme for prayer every few minutes.

Needed more discussion time

The table groups were, in one sense, too successful, we just wanted to carry on conversations and had to stop short too often to come back to hear different speakers share their perspective when actually our conversation may have been more inspiring, more helpful in encouraging us in our individual ministries.

Needed wider participation

One of the bitter blows of the Congress was the absence of the Chinese – I don’t pretend to understand that situation but I was saddened that with a number of years effort we still couldn’t manage it in a way that enabled them to join us.  More seriously I was frustrated with the swing to Catholicism over things like the emerging church, I felt the Congress was substantially weakened for representing such a small part of the evangelical church.  In the UK delegation it was sad that we weren’t able to see more women and leaders of minority churches at Cape Town 2010 – I know that wasn’t for a lack of invitations.

Needed better preaching and presentations

Some of the preachers hit the ball out of the park, while others seemed to miss the point of exegetical teaching; similarly some of the plenary speakers merely re-read their advanced paper, whilst others captivated me with their passion, story and development.  I wonder, probably in an over-critical spirit, what would have happened if there hadn’t been both the Ephesians exegetical teaching and the main plenary sessions – would this have raised the quality of some of the speakers, and given more space for discussion?

Needed better broadband

 

Before the Congress it boasted about being the most connected conference ever, frustratingly the internet was very limited, through no fault of the Technical and Social Media teams.  I wonder how many more people the Congress would have reached if the broadband had been as good as they’d initially hoped.

Overall the Congress was very well run, and I learnt so much by being there so please don’t take these as a bunch of overly-critical moans.

Highlights from Cape Town 2010

 

Here are a few of my highlights from Cape Town 2010, I could write loads on this, but here’s six to get me started:

I belong to a global church

To sit in a room with over 4,000 church leaders from nearly 200 countries teaches you quickly about the global church.  In my small group we had people from Serbia, the Honduras, the USA, and Canada.  In tables around me were people from literally all over the world.  When people spoke or prayed you could hear loads of languages being used, it was all very inspiring.  The theme of a global church was, where possible, reinforced from the front, with a wide number of countries providing preachers, presenters and plenary leaders.

Worship from the global church

Having spent much of the week singing traditional hymns and Graham Kendrick songs I’m surprised to be sharing this as one of my highlights but it really was – I’m not sure how I’ll adapt back to worship at church tomorrow.  The band and musicians was led by people from South Africa, and then augmented with people from many different countries covering nearly all the continents.  Singing familiar songs in five or six languages was great.  As I wrote on the last night, if that worship was a glimpse of heaven than heaven will truly be awesome!

Great times of networking and friendships

Throughout the conference it was great to meet people and make new connections and friendships.  Again these connections were so global – be it people that I met at Table Group Leader Training, or in my Table Group, at the Young Leader Forum and just around the conference.  I’ll look forward to emailing/phoning/skyping many of these people over the next month.  One of the real highlights for me was the friendships I’ve started or continued to grow with some of the UK delegation, and the potential for new partnerships in ministry that may in turn support our mission of enabling young people in Tonbridge to have life changing encounters with Jesus.

Reminded of the urgency and importance of the gospel

In the West we seem to have forgotten the urgency of the gospel (in its broadest sense) people need hope now.  A youth minister from Germany shared how they’re doing an evangelistic project called House which is literally reaching 1,000s of young people with the gospel through one-off evenings around the country.  Whilst I’m not convinced that their model would work in the UK, I was challenged by the need to find new creative ways to proclaim the gospel and to do so urgently, for example, around the world, 25% of people coming to faith do so through media on mobile phones – how is our local church supporting that kind of ministry?

Reminded of the size of the need

The need of the world is huge.  In the local estate on which our church is placed it’s estimated that nearly 500 young people don’t have a relationship with Jesus, that’s my mission field.  The mission field of the world includes 2 billion children, millions of people who can’t access scripture in their langauge and so on – it is huge – it’s the kind of thing that only God can help us to resolve – we need to trust in Him more in our evangelism.

Challenged to a long-term ministry

The world of youth ministry is full of people changing jobs every few years either looking for the next promotion or because their church employed them on a short-term contract and simply won’t resource or back long-term ministry.  In contrast one of the main things young people want is consistent love – they don’t want to have to form new relationships every few years.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable for young people to expect that in the seven years they’re in our youth ministry that they will have one senior leader.  Lindsey’s closing address reminded me of the need to remember we’re called to serve long-term in places that can be frustrating, possibly to emphasise this I’ve come back to two large challenges which have really frustrated and challenged me on this.  This is something I want to unpack with others around me to look at how I can be long-term.

If you were there, what were your highlights?