Calling the whole church to the whole Gospel to the whole world
In July 1974 the International Congress on World Evangelization was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, and issued the Lausanne Covenant. Now in July 1989 over 3,000 of us from about 170 countries have met in Manila for the same purpose, and have issued the Manila Manifesto. We are grateful for the welcome we have received for our Filipino brothers and sisters.
During the 15 years which have elapsed between the two congresses some smaller consultations have been held on topics like the Gospel and Culture, Evangelism and Conversion. These meetings and their reports have helped to develop the thinking of the Lausanne movement.
A "manifesto" is defined as a public declaration of convictions, intentions and motives. The Manila Manifesto takes up the two congress themes, "Proclaim Christ until he comes," and "Calling the Whole Church to take the Whole Gospel to the Whole World." Its first part is a series of 21 succinct affirmations. Its second part elaborates these in 12 sections, which are commended to churches, alongside the Lausanne Covenant, for study and action.
The following is an excerpt from Point C, The Whole World, taken from The Manila Manifesto of the Lausanne II conference.
The world population today is approaching 6 billion. One third of them nominally confess Christ. For the remaining four billion, half have heard of Him and the other half have not. In the light of these figures, we evaluate our evangelistic task by considering four categories of people.
First, there is the potential missionary work force, the committed. In this century this category of Christian believers has grown from about 40 million in 1900 to about 500 million today, and at this moment is growing over twice as fast as any other major religious group.
Secondly, there are the uncommitted. They make a Christian profession (they have been baptized, attend church occasionally and even call themselves Christians), but the notion of a personal commitment to Christ is foreign to them. They are found in all churches throughout the world. They urgently need to be re-evangelized.
Thirdly, there are the unevangelized. These are people who have a minimal knowledge of the Gospel, but have had no valid opportunity to respond to it. They are probably within reach of Christian people if only these will go to the next street, road, village or town to find them.
Fourthly, there are the unreached. These are the two billion who may never had heard of Jesus as Savior, and are not within reach of Christians of their own people or nationalities in which there is not yet a vital, indigenous church movement. We find it helpful to think of them as belonging to smaller "people groups" which perceive themselves as having an affinity with each other (e.g., a common culture, language, home or occupation). The most effective messengers to reach them will be those believers who already belong to their culture and sacrificially identifying with the people they long to reach for Christ.
There are now about 12,000 such unreached people groups within the 2,000 larger peoples, so that the task is not impossible. Yet at present only 7% of all missionaries are engaged in this kind of outreach, while the remaining 93% are working in the already evangelized half of the world. If this imbalance is to be redressed, a strategic redeployment of personnel will be necessary.
A distressing factor that affects each of the above categories is that of inaccessibility. Many countries to not grant visas to self- styled missionaries, who have no other qualification or contribution to offer. Such areas are not absolutely inaccessible, however. For our prayers can pass through every curtain, door and barrier. And Christian radio and television, audio and video cassettes, films and literature can also reach the otherwise unreachable. So can so called "tent-makers" who like Paul earn their own living. They travel in the course of their profession (e.g., business people, university lecturers, technical specialists and language teachers) and use every opportunity to speak of Jesus Christ. They do not enter a country under false pretenses, for their work generally takes them there; it is simply that witness is an essential component of their Christian lifestyle, wherever they may happen to be. We are deeply ashamed that nearly two millennia have passed since the death and resurrection of Jesus, and still two-thirds of the world's population have not acknowledged him. On the other hand, we are amazed that the mounting evidence of God's power even in the most unlikely places of the globe.
Now the year 2000 has become for many a challenging milestone. Can we commit ourselves to evangelize the world during the last decade of this millennium? There is nothing magical about the date, yet should we not do our our best to reach this goal? Christ commands us to take the gospel to all people. The task is urgent. We are determined to obey Him with joy and hope.
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