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Why Global Conferences?
by John Richard - AD2000 Special Projects Coordinator
(Dr. Richard is from India)
Understandably, a segment of the Christian world
is getting tired of conferences, especially global conferences.
They are asking a very pertinent question. And that is: "What
is it that you are going to consider in the upcoming conference
that has not been discussed in earlier gatherings?" And they
are right. In terms of gaining new knowledge, it will be so small
that it does not warrant the convening of yet another global conference.
Then why is it that the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, in particular,
is not just lending its name but actively supporting the holding
of such conferences? For instance, the Global Consultation on
World Evangelization 1997 in Pretoria, South Africa.
We give below the rationale for these conferences:
- The conference has to be global at regular intervals as the
gospel the Church preaches is universal. The gospel meets a universal
need (Isa. 48:22); recognized a universal condition (Rom. 3:22-23);
provides a universal prescription (Acts 4:12); offers a universal
remedy (1 Jn. 1:7b) and extends a universal invitation (Rev.22:17).
The wider the challenge, the greater the company that will publish
it and the greater the acceptance it will receive.
- Under God, small beginnings are productive of great ends.
It is the principle of a grain of mustard seed in action (Mt.
13:31-32). Not surprising, therefore, that the 1966 Berlin Congress
on World Evangelism has triggered off a series of these global
meetings with a preponderance of them in the closing years of
this decade, this century and this millennium.
- Knowledge of the universality of the gospel has yet to be
translated into acts of willing obedience. It is obvious that
a large part of the Body of Christ are still sitting at ease,
even though they have made personal professions of faith in Christ.
Global conferences are a perennial reminder to the Church of its
inescapable obligation to proclaim the gospel (I Cor. 9:16)- a
means of "Calling the Whole Church to Take the Whole Gospel
to the Whole World."
- The Church, by and large, has yet to graduate to people group
thinking-that there are 1739 least evangelized peoples each over
10,000 in population but less than 2% Christian; that the combined
population of all Joshua Project 2000 peoples totals 2.2 billion
individuals of which 85% live in the 10/40 Window. Local churches
have to research these peoples through on-site teams, wherever
possible; cover these in prayer, adopt them, send missionaries
and tent-makers and pave the way for initiating a pioneer church-planting
movement among them. Global conferences promote infectiousness
as one group hears a report about the endeavors of another in
reaching unreached peoples.
- There is an influential so-called Christian movement spreading
far and wide advocating the philosophy of religious pluralism.
It teaches that "Christians desire that a Hindu be a better
Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Buddhist a better Buddhist"
and so on. Says this school of thought: "Salvation may be
available to those outside the fold of Christ in ways we cannot
understand, as they live faithful and truthful lives in their
concrete circumstances and in the framework of the religious traditions
which guide and inspire them." To them, Christ's horrible
death was wholly unnecessary. Global Conferences on World Evangelization
arrest effectively this kind of contamination, through publishing
abroad the truth of man's lostness apart from Christ's saving
- Global conferences are a practical demonstration of the fact
of the corporate oneness of the Body of Christ-that unity in Christ
transcends ethnic, social and sexual distinctions (Gal. 3:28);
that our concerns and interests are identical (Acts 4:32); that
we are willing to share our resources (Acts 4:32), to talk to
each other (Mal. 3:16), and to work together (III Jn. 8).
- Global conferences show also the power of corporate witness.
In his high-priestly prayer of John 17, the Redeemer prayed that
the Church may be marked by the four qualities of truth (v.17),
holiness (vv. 11, 15), unity (vv. 22-23) and mission (vv. 18,
21, 23). These four elements are woven together into a full-orbed
whole. For example, unity at the expense of truth is both impossible
and unscriptural. There is already an invisible bond that binds
all genuine Christian believers, and their task is to make every
effort to maintain the unity that is their present possession
in Christ (Eph. 4:3).
To us is given the privilege of fulfilling Christ's
petition that our unity would reflect the unity of the Godhead-
all for the sake of the world believing that the Father had sent
the Son and that the Father loves them and the Son (Jn. 17:21b,
23, 25). We will therefore gladly extend our right hand of fellowship
to all those who believe in the basic tenets of "the faith
that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).
We have embraced a simple philosophy that Philipp Melanchthon
gave us over four centuries ago: "In Essentials, Unity; In
Non-Essentials, Liberty; In All Things, Charity." The denominational
labels do not trouble us. As long as all those associated with
the AD2000 & Beyond Movement can subscribe unreservedly to
the basics as outlined in the World Evangelical Fellowship Statement
of Faith and the Lausanne Covenant, we will gladly use the forum
of Global Conferences for challenging them to labor together in
the areas of prayer, research, revival, evangelism, missions and
church planting. Indeed the bonds that bind God's people are much
stronger than the differences that divide us. Praise be to His
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