In the fall of 2010 my wife Amy was invited to The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa as a delegate for the United States. I got to tag along as a guest and blogged about it here and here. As a follow up to that Congress, Lausanne has and is gathering consultations of younger leaders in countries all over the world. Last week, Amy and I joined about 120 other younger leaders in Madison, WI for the North American iteration of these consultations.
As a consultation (not a conference), there were unique objectives in view. From the NAYLG site…
We have three objectives: collaborative learning, impactful work, and beneficial partnerships formed. For two days, leaders in their 20s and 30s from the United States and Canada will meet to work on the six action points in the Cape Town Commitment Call to Action. We will gather in working groups around the issues we are passionate about and seek to collaborate together on ways we can advance God’s mission together. We hope participants will leave having been inspired by one another, with new partnerships formed and deeper connections to the worldwide Lausanne movement made.
There were 10 working groups in all..
- Business as Mission/Work Place Ministry
- Developing Christ-Centered Leaders (Amy was in this one)
- Unreached People Groups
- Ministry to the Marginalized and Poor
- Focusing on Cities
- Theological Education (I was in this one)
- Truth in Arts and Media
- Unity in the Church
- Evangelism to Muslim People
The whole time was fascinating to be a part of. Besides the working groups, there were also presenters who spoke briefly on various topics (check out audio of these presentations here) related to the gathering.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I absolutely LOVED how this gathering was organized. I got to spend 2 days in dialogue, brainstorming, praying, dreaming, and planning with about 10 others who are passionate about theological education and share the ability to approach it from the perspective of a generation that is less encumbered by some of the assumptions and trappings of previous generations. It was exciting, engaging, and encouraging all at the same time. I also learned a ton! It’s no secret to regular readers that theological education is a key interest of mine (especially of late!). But this was an opportunity to put some of my thinking in dialogue with that of others – people who are thinking about the same issue, but whose reflections take shape around an engagement with… international students, or undergrads, or campus ministry, or global issues, etc. I am still processing all the different facets of our conversation and the perspectives that were offered.
One of the most enjoyable sessions is when each of the working groups put some of their work up on white paper for all to see and then everyone circulated around the room to see what the other groups had come up with and have conversations about where the work of the various groups might intersect.
Now it’s a kind of wait and see thing. The real hope here is that people would connect to such a degree that they might begin new joint projects or move toward a tighter integration of efforts.
I was humbled to realize just how many of those who were invited I’ve had the good fortune of crossing paths with (Elizabeth Paul, JR Woodward, Tom Lin, Todd Hiestand, Joyce Hiendarto, John Chung, Paul Van Der Werf, and Al Hsu to name a few). But I was equally encouraged by getting to meet so many new friends doing incredible kinds of work across the States and throughout Canada.
The question I went into this time with, and the one that I am still mulling over was this…
God, what sort of contribution and legacy will mark the next generation of North American Christian leaders and how would you have us steward that faithfully?
I am really looking forward to seeing what emerges out of this time in the next year or so, but also look forward to the possibility of standing in a room with some of these same people 50 years from now and reflecting back on things that we’ll only have the ability to appreciate on that side of things. Lord willing, that’ll be really, really exciting!