The world economy seems fragile. Some so-called “rich” Western nations are teetering with default. Leaders are trying to avoid another global recession. Presidents are treading a delicate balance between satisfying the demands of the voting public—with the interdependency of globalized economies.
Will the global Church show the way forward? Will globally-minded followers of Jesus Christ embrace their interdependence—while acknowledging the unique God-ordained dignity and honor of every national and ethnic identity?
The Lausanne Movement speaks to these questions. This is from the Foreward of “The Cape Town Commmitment: A Confession of Faith and Action”:
The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town, 16-25 October 2010) brought together 4,200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries, and extended to hundreds of thousands more, participating in meetings around the world, and online. Its goal? To bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching – in every nation, in every sphere of society, and in the realm of ideas.
The Cape Town Commitment is the fruit of this endeavour. It stands in an historic line, building on both The Lausanne Covenant and The Manila Manifesto. It is in two parts. Part l sets out biblical convictions, passed down to us in the scriptures, and Part ll sounds the call to action.
The very last part of the document—the final section of the Call to Action—deals with partnership in the Body of Christ.
Here is an excerpt under the title, “Partnership in global mission”:
Partnership in mission is not only about efficiency. It is the strategic and practical outworking of our shared submission to Jesus Christ as Lord. Too often we have engaged in mission in ways that prioritize and preserve our own identities (ethnic, denominational, theological, etc), and have failed to submit our passions and preferences to our one Lord and Master. The supremacy and centrality of Christ in our mission must be more than a confession of faith; it must also govern our strategy, practice and unity.
We rejoice in the growth and strength of emerging mission movements in the majority world and the ending of the old pattern of ‘from the West to the Rest’. But we do not accept the idea that the baton of mission responsibility has passed from one part of the world Church to another. There is no sense in rejecting the past triumphalism of the West, only to relocate the same ungodly spirit in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. No one ethnic group, nation, or continent can claim the exclusive privilege of being the ones to complete the Great Commission. Only God is sovereign.
a. We stand together as church and mission leaders in all parts of the world, called to recognize and accept one another, with equality of opportunities to contribute together to world mission. Let us, in submission to Christ, lay aside suspicion, competition and pride and be willing to learn from those whom God is using, even when they are not from our continent, nor of our particular theology, nor of our organization, nor of our circle of friends.
b. Partnership is about more than money, and unwise injection of money frequently corrupts and divides the Church. Let us finally prove that the Church does not operate on the principle that those who have the most money have all the decision-making power. Let us no longer impose our own preferred names, slogans, programmes, systems and methods on other parts of the Church. Let us instead work for true mutuality of North and South, East and West, for interdependence in giving and receiving, for the respect and dignity that characterizes genuine friends and true partners in mission.
How encouraging! It is very much the spirit in which our missional learning journey, The Beauty of Partnership, was developed. In a globalized world with fragile economies, the last thing we need are the Christians who “hunker down” with the attitude that happiness is a small circle.
If ever there was a need for training in intercultural understanding and healthy cross-cultural partnerships, that time is now.