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AD 2000 Call Sounded at Lausanne II

Jay Gary reports on how the AD 2000 call at Lausanne II in Manila in 1989 was both affirmed and critiqued. 

Lausanne II in ManilaFor ten days in July of 1989, 4,336 participants, guests and media gathered from 166 nations in Manila for the Lausanne movement’s Second International Congress on World Evangelization. Undoubtedly Lausanne II did a masterful job in calling an ever increasingly diverse world of evangelicals to unity in mission as we enter the ’90s.

Even the congress Manifesto stated: “We affirm that world evangelization is urgent….So we resolve during the last decade of the twentieth century to give ourselves to these tasks with fresh determination.”

From an overall perspective, the Lausanne II Congress in Manila has joined a growing chorus of world meetings since 1986 calling for world evangelization as we approach AD 2000. Yet from a more focused point of view, what did Lausanne II have to teach us about the call to world evangelization as we approach AD 2000?

The inescapable conclusion is this: the call to AD 2000 at Lausanne II remained largely thata call, with speakers finding it difficult to handle it as anything other than a rhetorical cry, rather than a concrete agenda to be accomplished. Added to that, the most significant things said at Lausanne II about AD 2000 came not from its promoters, but rather by those who raised cautions.

“The eloquence of the preacher, the size of the annual budget, the rise of modern technology, the employment of social sciences, effective strategies, top management and impressive missionary agencies and headquarters will not do it,” a plenary speaker from Yugoslavia proclaimed. “It will take genuine repentance, divine cleansing, holy living and a new empowerment by the Holy Spirit if the world is to be evangelized in the last decade of our millennium.”

Throughout the Congress, many leaders expressed concerns about the popular AD 2000 call they were hearingthat it would “narrow our view of integrated missions,” that it “would prove divisive among the churches if it were structured globally,” or that it was “too inclusive of non-evangelical groups.”

The only place at Lausanne II where the rubber met the road in terms of AD 2000 was during the afternoons. There participants explored some 425 workshops which were organized along the lines of 49 special interest “tracks.” To Lausanne’s credit, nine consecutive workshops were offered as an AD 2000 track. It considered the potential and possibilities of AD 2000 strategies in Asia, Latin America and Africa plus it highlighted various case studies of AD 2000 programs, such as New Life 2000 or Hong Kong 2000. Poor attendance, however, plagued its sessions.

Fortunately, other tracks such as “Research,” “Two-Thirds World Missions,” “Social Concern,” and “Spiritual Warfare” did plan for the future and discuss how their networks could set global agendas and overall goals for the next ten years.

An excellent example of this was the “Bible Distribution and Translation” track. Dr. John Bendor-Samuel, vice-president of Wycliffe Bible Translators, stated that unless some unknown factor would accelerate the pace of Bible translation, it would “take until AD 2037 to that ensure all people have access to Scripture in a language they understand.” He called for new forms of cooperation between translation organizations, especially those emerging in national settings to speed up this process.

Co-presenters gave comparative assessments in the area of Bible distribution: the point being that massive resources have been squandered among rich Christians making the challenge of Bible distribution among the poor over the next decade near impossible to complete. A potential 1.5 billion dollar shortfall was predicted by Bible Societies in the ’90s as they seek to put the Bible or portions of it in the hands of every new literate Christian and place an audio New Testament among every pre-literate church in the Third World.

From what was learned at Lausanne II, is world evangelization possible by the year 2000? Some want to believe it is many more are tempted to believe it is not. Now more than ever, it is clear that offering an AD 2000 vision without directing people to concrete AD 2000 action can only lead to AD 2000 paralysis.

This editorial by Jay Gary appeared in the AD 2000 Monitor, August 1989.

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