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The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, more commonly known as the Lausanne Movement, is a global movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. The stated vision is "the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world".
The Lausanne Movement grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization (ICOWE) and promotes active worldwide evangelism. The Lausanne Covenant provides the theological basis for collaborative work in the area of mission and evangelism. The Cape Town Commitment defines the movement's goals.
The First International Congress on World Evangelization met in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974. It was organized in part by Billy Graham and was attended by some 2,700 participants and guests from over 150 nations who met here to discuss and promote evangelism. One result of this conference was the Lausanne Continuation Committee, which planned to sustain the movement started at Lausanne. This committee formed the backbone for the official inception of the LCWE in 1976. Another organizational backbone of the movement was the Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center (MARC), a division of World Vision International.
The Lausanne board of directors is chaired by Ram Gidoomal. The newly appointed executive director/CEO is Michael Oh, who succeeds Doug Birdsall. Board members include leaders from around the world.
Lausanne has spawned significant involvement from agencies and individual Christians. The movement surrounding it has led to hundreds of books on evangelism and theology being published. These include workbooks for choosing strategies with which to evangelize to "unreached peoples". The documents of greatest significance to date are The Lausanne Covenant, which is used by evangelical mission organisations worldwide as a basis for faith, action and partnership, and The Cape Town Commitment which 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."
Lausanne's most recent publications include Christ Our Reconciler, from Cape Town 2010. Lausanne also publishes occasional papers on its website. The series of booklets, The Didasko Files, includes some Lausanne Movement documents such as a study guide to The Lausanne Covenant, written by the chief architect of the covenant, John Stott.
Cape Town 2010
At the urging of evangelical leaders worldwide, the Lausanne Movement held the Third Congress on World Evangelisation in Cape Town, South Africa, October 16–25, 2010. The goal of Cape Town 2010 was to re-stimulate the spirit of Lausanne represented in the Lausanne Covenant: to promote unity, humbleness in service, and a call to action for global evangelization. It was attended by 4,000 participants and 1000 guests from 197 countries.
During this congress the Cape Town Commitment was developed and subsequently published.
Criticism of Christian Zionism
Steve Haas, vice president of Lausanne, gave a sermon on social justice, published in the movement's journal, All of Me, linking problems with the way evangelicals approached the Rwanda crisis, the AIDS epidemic and the subject of Zionism. This was described as using "outrageously broad brushstrokes" and the comparison with the Spanish Inquisition and the crusades was called "clumsy". Christian Zionism or Restorationism has been a widely held Protestant conviction before and after the Declaration of Independence by the State of Israel.
Robert Stearns, executive director of Eagles' Wings, described the article in Lausanne's journal as a "narrow and dangerously one-sided presentation", and described it as an "all-out assault on Christian Zionists". Among other arguments he cited the prominent role of Arabs in Israeli society to address Haas' support of the assertion that Israel is "apartheid on steroids". The Simon Wiesenthal Center described this last claim as "the big lie", and rebutted the "dismissal of the validity of Israel's right to exist as the Jewish State".
World Vision International described the comments in the article as "unhelpfully simplified and combative". Jan van 't Loo, the spokesman for World Vision Netherlands stated that this response does not reflect World Vision's position on for Israel and the Palestinian people and it appeared without the proper approval. Blogging for the Times of Israel, Sam Hailes commends part of Haas's article as important to study, but condemns the fact that the article "never even tries to use equal terms" for Israelis and Palestinians. Brian Schrauger, writing for Bridges for Peace states that the two opinions are "two seeds, two fruits" that represent an internal disagreement in the Lausanne Movement.
On October 17, 2010, Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches gave an address to the third Lausanne Conference at the invitation of Doug Birdsall. In the address he said, "we are called to participate in the one mission of God". The World Evangelical Alliance, its international director, Geoff Tunnicliffe, and other WEA leaders were involved at each level in the development of the programme of "Third Lausanne" and helped choose its participants.
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