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Leaders to Try Again for Century Goal

Christians leaders intent on spreading the gospel by century’s end will try again at the ” Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond,” scheduled Jan. 5-8, 1989 in Singapore. 

More than 300 Great Commission Christian leaders expected to attend are affiliated with a plan to help evangelize the world by the year 2000. This was the lead press release of GCOWE 2000.

by Jay Gary, GCOWE 2000 Advance News Release: 

SingaporeSINGAPORE–One hundred years and six months ago, a number of Christian leaders met in London to coordinate their efforts to spread the Christian message throughout the world by the year 1900.

They made speeches but reached no clear decisions, and ultimately achieved no strengthening of world evangelization efforts.

Today a wide range of Christian leaders intent on spreading the gospel message worldwide will try again at the “Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond,” scheduled Jan. 5-8 [1989] in Singapore.

More than 300 Great Commission Christian leaders expected to attend are affiliated with a denomination or organization with a plan to help evangelize the world by the year 2000. Their plans have common goals, yet are largely independent of each other.

No single group is sponsoring the consultation. Participants come from across the spectrum of Christianity. Denominational participants include Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Charismatics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Pentecostals. Organizational participants include such groups as the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Campus Crusade for Christ, World Vision International and Third World Mission Advance.

Third World Christians will comprise more than half the participants, said Thomas Wang of Hong Kong, chairman of the consultation’s program planning committee. Wang, a native of China, is international director of the Lausanne Committee.

“Planning for global evangelization is no longer a western movement,” Wang said. “We look forward to a real cross-pollinization” between Christian leaders in the West and the Third World.

In the past, the Third World “has been mainly on the receiving end,” Wang acknowledged. But now Third World Christians are “coming into maturity, maturity of a worldwide vision and a sense of responsibility to be a meaningful part of fulfilling the Great Commission.” A number of noteworthy evangelistic plans have been initiated in the Third World, Wang said.

Consultation organizers hesitated to make predictions about what will result from such a broad-based gathering. But they have taken steps to provide the participants with possible options for specific decisions.

A team of 15 missiologists has drafted a 50-page working document listing 104 options that will be discussed during the four-day meeting. The formation of an “AD 2000 Global Task Force” staffed by representatives from various Christian denominations or organizations, is one such action point.

The task force’s role would be to correlate the efforts of those in the network of global Christian plans who want to solve logistical problems common to all, much in the same way that non-governmental agencies work to coordinate the outpouring of international aid when major earthquakes strike. And it could work to encourage and assist cooperative evangelistic movements on local, national or continental levels.

Seven Hundred Plans to Evangelize the WorldThe book sounds a caution to Christian leaders, noting that out of the 788 plans chronicled over 20 centuries time, 534 have passed off the scene or are “clearly in the decaying process.”Another resource being distributed to consultation participants is a new book, “Seven Hundred Plans to Evangelize the World” (published by New Hope, Southern Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union, 1988) by David Barrett, an Anglican missions researcher and James Reapsome, editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly in Wheaton, Ill. Barrett has been based at the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board in Richmond, Va., since 1985.

The authors also list more than 300 reasons why such plans fail, most of which involve “internal problems within the church and the Christian world.” Christians cannot blame external circumstances for their failure to evangelize the world, Barrett and Reapsome state.

The Singapore consultation planners expect a number of world Congresses between now and 1991 to take up the theme of world evangelization by “AD 2000 and Beyond.”

Already the Lausanne Committee has announced that its second International Congress on World Evangelization to be held next July in Manila will focus on AD 2000. Wang said in addition to discussions of the AD 2000 emphasis, the “Lausanne II” event will stimulate fellowship among the 4,000 participants and focus on a broader range of issues.

“Whatever happens at the January consultation (in Singapore) will enrich and strengthen the July congress,” Wang said. “These two complement each other. It’s like a two-stage rocket.”

Use of AD 2000 terminology is not a statement of a particular end-times view, consultation organizers pointed out. The words, “and Beyond,” in the title “mean that we should keep on evangelizing because there will be new births, new generations if the Lord tarries,” Wang said.

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