What happens after AD 2000?
The future of evangelical cooperation and the unfinished task of world evangelization
By the Norway Evangelical Forum Task Force
2 April 1998
Lausanne in Norway has a "broken back". These words by Torbjorn Lied, Chairman Norwegian Missionary Council on the 30th of October of 1997 created a furor among a number of historical evangelical leaders in Norway that launched a major query. What happens after AD 2000? The future of evangelical cooperation and the unfinished task of world evangelization.
As the chairman of the 32 mission organizations networked together in the Norwegian Missionary Council, Torbjorn called a meeting of the Norwegian participants to GCOWE 97 in South Africa, representatives of the Lausanne Movement in Norway, the Evangelical Alliance in Norway, the AD2000 committee in Norway, as well as key mission leaders such as Tormod Engelsviken, Knud Jorgensen and Jon Victor Selle.
The issue they wanted to discuss was "What do we do after AD 2000 - A new evangelical forum?" The point is not to make something new in addition to existing forums and networks, but to look into the possibilities of closing down some of the existing networks and to join forces in an evangelical network or even a joint evangelical forum through which we can carry on the vision of world evangelization as well as evangelistic outreach in our own country.
What do we mean by evangelical? The term "evangelical" in Norway refers to all those bodies and individuals who identify with the evangelical movement. This will include independent evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal churches as well as the historic Free Church denominations and the conservative evangelical confession within the state church.
The forcing factors/realities prompting the need for a Task Force:
With the recommendation from the meeting of 30.10.97, the Norwegian Missionary Council has formed a fast-working TASK FORCE with the following purpose and mandate:
To present a structural model to the churches and missions in Norway that will advance the involvement and reduce the duplication of all evangelical bodies of Norway in the unfinished task of world evangelization.
- To draft an alternative model for broad cooperation on world evangelization and missiological reflection.
- To look into the possibility of arranging an international leaders' conference in Norway in August/September 1999 with up to 1000 participants. Two main issues are in focus: structural transition and leadership transition into a new millennium
- To survey, in relation to point 1 & 2, international developments / trends regarding future organizing of networks for world evangelization and mission.
- To report back to the Norwegian Missionary Council at the annual meeting in May 1998.
- To arrange a leaders' seminar in September 1998 on world mission. This will be a joint venture between Lausanne -Norway, Evangelical Alliance - Norway and the Norwegian Mission Council
Process of selection:
Invite representative and resource bodies as follows: 2 members of the Norwegian Mission Council, 1 from Lausanne - Norway, 1 from AD 2000, 1 from WEF in Norway, 2 from outside as resource people and 1 to serve as secretary.
Members and who they represent:
- Torbjorn Lied, Chairman Norwegian Missionary Council
- Jon Victor Selle, Lausanne Movement in Norway
- Ingulf Diesen, Chairman WEF in Norway and Mission Covenant Church of
- Norway (Evangelical Free Church)
- Tormod Engelsviken, Professor in Missiology
- Anna Karin Kristensen, Norwegian Mission Society
- Tore Askildsen, European Evangelical Alliance Executive Committee and
- Norwegian Lutheran Mission
- Tore Seierstad, Norwegian Santal Mission
- Olav Ramunddal, AD2000 Coordinator for Norway
The major questions/issues that need to be addressed:
- Who will carry the torch on behalf of the unfinished task of world evangelization?
- What structural model will Norway embrace to catalyze, communicate and coordinate all evangelical Norwegian efforts to complete the unfinished task?
- How can we reduce duplication and enhance evangelical cooperation?
- How can we structure ourselves to maintain contact with international movements and structures, to receive information about what is happening around the world?
- How can we involve the vital forces for evangelical mission within Norway including groups such as professionals and people in business?
- How can we create an atmosphere and develop new leadership to carry the work forward?
- How can we share the struggle of assessing God's desire for an evangelical structure committed to world evangelization in Norway beyond AD2000?
Thirty-five Christian leaders gathered to consider models of evangelical cooperation to provide a viable structure to focus on the unfinished task in Norway and in the world after AD2000. Luis Bush presented an international perspective, Tormod Engelsviken brought a missiological perspective and Torbjorn Lied a Norwegian perspective.
Several recurring principles were recognized as indispensable and foundational to a Norwegian post-AD2000 model including the following:
Through the dialogue thus far, it is clear that Lausanne Norway does not have a "broken back". In fact, it has become clear that there is strong ongoing commitment at many levels of leadership to the Lausanne Covenant and mission. However, it has also become clear that there is a need to revitalize the form, structure and the leadership of Lausanne Norway. Is Lausanne Norway the most viable to serve as the Evangelical Forum post 2000 should these important changes be forthcoming. Should there be the consideration of new name for an evangelical forum of Norway? Should the name be the Evangelical Forum of Norway? These are questions that still need to be answered.
The annual meeting of the Norwegian Missionary Council will take place in Oslo on Thursday 7 May '98 where the report from the Task Force will be presented, and where decisions regarding further steps will be taken.
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