Commissions

TC ERT Jan 2010 Vol 34 No 1

01.01.10

Theme: The Whole Church

Contents:

  • ‘The Whole Church’ : A Statement of the Lausanne Theology Working Group
  • ‘The Whole Church’—Brief Biblical Survey by Chris Wright
  • Biblical Perspectives on the Role of Immigrants in God’s Mission by Charles (Chuck) Van Engen
  • The Whole Church as a Transformed and Transforming Society by Dewi Hughes
  • Ethnicity and the People of God by Milton Acosta
  • Case Studies:
    • ‘Unwanted Sectarians’: Spirit, Migration and Mission in an African-led Mega-Size Church in Eastern Europe by J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu
    • New Faces of the Church: An Indian Case Study by Paul Joshua Bhakiaraj
    • Lessons from My Daughter: Reflections of Church and Ethics by J.Daniel Salinas
    • Way of Hope in Cambodia by Stephan J. Bauman
    • A Neopentecostal Experience of Aimara People by Marcelo Vargas

Editorial: ‘The Whole Church’—Reflections of the Lausanne Theology Working Group

The Lausanne Theology Working Group hosted a consultation in Panama, 26-30 January, 2009. 25 people from around the world convened, and worked together around 4 plenary papers and 18 case studies, which provided us with a very wide variety of perspectives on what God is doing through his church in the world.

Each morning we studied 1 Peter together, drawing on its rich teaching on what it means to be God’s church in the world. We found this constantly integrated with our wider discussions.

The topic, ‘The Whole Church’ is the second in a series of consultations on the theological significance of the three phrases of the Lausanne Covenant, ‘The whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’. The first consultation took place in February 2008 in Chiang Mai on ‘The Whole Gospel’, and the third will take place in February 2010 in Beirut. The findings of the first consultation were published in the January 2009 edition of the Evangelical Review of Theology. The findings of the second are published in this edition, and the third and final volume will be published in October 2010. Together, they comprise part of the contribution of the Theology Working Group to the preparation for Lausanne III Congress, Cape Town 2010.

Since our focus was strongly on the Lausanne phrase, our angle of approach to all that we tackled was missional. That is to say, we were not attempting to discuss or define an exhaustive systematic ecclesiology. Rather, we were asking—what do we mean by the phrase ‘The Whole Church’—in relation to all that we understand to be the identity, role and functions of the church within the mission of God for the sake of the world?

When the phrase was first used, it is possible that ‘the whole church’ was intended simply to mean, ‘all Christians’. The main point of Lausanne’s call was to insist that evangelization was the task of the whole church (all Christians), not just of the clergy or professional missionaries. However, the expression raises a variety of questions about the wholeness of the church in relation to its mission. ‘Whole’ has qualitative significance as well as quantitative. So we framed the papers, case-studies, and discussion sessions in our consultation around six broad themes which are reflected in the papers that follow:

  1. The whole church in the whole Bible
  2. The whole church as a transformed and transforming society
  3. The whole church as a people committed to wholeness (in the midst of multiple brokenness and divisions in the world and within the church)
  4. The whole church called to be a blessing to all nations—even (especially) in contexts of exile and migration
  5. The whole church and mission strategies
  6. The whole church in its bewildering diversity (from mega church to hidden believers)

Chris Wright, Chair Lausanne, Theology Working Group