The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“I see a generation that is humble to build on the wisdom of previous generations, but also bold enough to contextualize it and come up with new initiatives for global mission”, says Sarah Breuel, Chair of the Lausanne Movement Younger Leaders Gathering 2016.
About 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries will travel to Indonesia to participate in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016)
The “once-in-a-generation” meeting will be held on 3-10 August 2016 in the city of Jakarta.
It is “the third such gathering that the Lausanne Movement has convened. Previous gatherings held were in Singapore in 1987 and Malaysia in 2006.”
Participants will work together in “issue-based workshops and regional groups, strategic brainstorming ‘labs’, and with mentors—senior leaders in global mission today.” The week in Jakarta can become a “springboard” for many Christians in their ministry, the organisation hopes.
The theme of the conference is ‘United in the Great Story’: “God is writing a Great Story that stretches from Creation to New Creation via the cross, a story in which every continent and people group across history takes part.”
Sarah Breuel, Chair of the Younger Leaders Planning Team, answered to questions of Evangelical Focus. She speaks about the vision and expectations behind the gathering in the following interview.
Question. How many people are coming, from how many countries? What is the profile of the participants you have invited this year?
Answer. We are expecting nearly 1000 participants from about 150 countries. We received thousands of nominations and went through an extensive, prayerful, regionally based selection process. The profile of the participants is emerging evangelical leaders from 25-35 years old with national and international leadership potential. About two thirds of our participants are from the Majority World and about one third of them are women.
Q. What have been the challenges and the best moments in these months of preparation for YLG2016?
A. Lausanne has a strong value of having the global church represented at its gatherings. So we were keen to have a big representation from the Majority World. Since the costs of the gathering are not low, we’ve had about 450 participants asking for scholarships. It has been a challenge to raise the necessary funds to them.
One of the best moments has been to see God’s favour with the Indonesian authorities. With people coming from all over the world, getting visas for the participants was a big challenge. After calling participants to prayer from many nations, we saw God’s hand at work and we were able to get visas for the vast majority of countries.
Another area that has been special was to see how the participants were already connecting in a deep levels months before the event. We have had about 140 small groups meeting in Skype calls in the different nations, almost all participants connecting through a Facebook group that has become an interesting platform for gospel discussions, and about ¼ of the participants connecting through WhatsApp in a daily basis. That is significant for us, for the vision has always been much larger than simply meeting for a week, but a community that will journey together. We were surprised to see the vision already became a reality long before we even met in person.
Q. Why Jakarta? Will participants have the opportunity to learn about the society and the church in Indonesia?
A. Originally, the Younger Leaders Gathering was supposed to be held in Kiev, Ukraine. We’ve walked with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters during the difficult political situation in the country. We were sad to not be able to have the gathering there. God then opened a door quite miraculously, though our Lausanne CEO Michael Oh, for us to be hosted in Indonesia. We have been so impressed by the kindness and hospitality of the Indonesian people. We will have a free day in the Gathering where participants will have the possibility to visit Indonesian churches and see more of this great country.
Q. Values and goals have marked the Lausanne Movement since its first meeting in Switzerland (1974). Do you think the new generations of Christian leaders coming to the YLG2016 have heard about this vision?
A. The participants of YLG2016 went through a whole year of preparation process that included, among other things, engaging with the history of the Lausanne Movement, its core documents and its values. We are excited to see this new generation taking on such a precious heritage. Getting to know closely many participants, I see a generation that is humble to build on the wisdom of previous generations, but also bold enough to contextualize it and come up with new initiatives for global mission.
Q. Much has changed in our globalised societies. What new priorities will the conference share with the participants to respond to the challenge of mission nowadays?
A. One of the fruits of Cape Town 2010 was the Cape Town Commitment, which resulted in 35 issue networks that are working with the key missiological issues of our time. Each one of these issue groups will be presented to YLG participants to get connected and be included.
In the platform sessions, we will be tackling some of the most pressing challenges of our generation like: how to proclaim the truth of Christ in such a sceptical world, what does it mean to preach the whole gospel and the Lordship of Christ over poverty and the environment, how to respond to different conceptions of human sexuality, the persecuted church and what are the major challenges facing Evangelicalism in the next decades.
Q. The last YLG was in 2006, what are some encouraging stories that came out of that meeting?
A. The last YLG was in Malaysia. For us is exciting that our very own CEO (Michael Oh, CEO of Lausanne) was a participant in 2006. Many of the 2006 participants are now stepping into regional, global and national leadership positions and continue to make ever-growing impact for global mission, so this is very fascinating to see.
Q. Finally, how can people pray for the participants of YLG2016?
A. We would love to receive prayer that the Spirit will be orchestrating divine connections in our week together that will resonate for the impact of the gospel in the nations for decades to come.
THE LAUSANNE MOVEMENT
The Lausanne Movement is eager to “connect evangelical influencers across all generations to work together towards the vision of the gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church, and kingdom impact in every sphere of society.”
Learn more about the history of the Lausanne Movement here.