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Indonesia: Lausanne gathering draws 1000 younger world church leaders

More than 1000 younger leaders from more than 140 countries gathered in Jakarta this week to spur one another on for global mission ...

The Lausanne Movement’s most ‘connected’ gathering, the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, came to a close last night.

More than 1000 younger leaders and mentors convened for a week from over 140 countries to connect for global mission, in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the Global Campus of Universitas Pelita Harapan.

The vision for YLG2016 was rooted in the same conviction out of which Billy Graham started the Lausanne Movement, namely to help influencers of global mission, who were often working in isolation, to meet and collaborate.

Participants for this gathering have been invited through an extensive, prayerful, regionally based selection process after receiving thousands of nominations. About two thirds of the participants were from the Majority World, and about one-third were women.

“I’ve never seen the mission of the Lausanne Movement – connecting influencers and ideas for global mission – more powerfully displayed than during this amazing week,” says Michael Oh, Lausanne’s Global Executive Director/CEO.

Connections took various forms during the programme, such as the 160+ mentoring groups where participants connected their personal life stories to God’s grand narrative of the world. In addition to regional gatherings and 35 workshops focused on many of the most significant missiological issues set forth in The Cape Town Commitment, there were also hundreds of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings between senior and younger leaders throughout the course of the carefully crafted programme.

To emphasize the importance of connecting at YLG2016, the planning team put significant amounts of free time into the week which was key in making space for numerous divine appointments.

Building connections, however, began long before the gathering itself. In perhaps the most ambitious effort in the Lausanne Movement’s history to prepare participants for a gathering, participants had to commit to an entire year of monthly preparation. This included both substantive reflection on the narrative of Scripture around which YLG2016 was focused, and also starting to make individual and national/regional connections long before setting foot in Jakarta.

In a survey participants took, nine out of 10 indicated they had made connections and friendships with other YLG2016 participants before arriving in Jakarta. This was largely facilitated by an online platform called the Connector, launched in the year prior to the gathering to connect participants with each other and the preparation materials.

A mobile app version of the Connector was released for the gathering, and was heavily used by a vast majority of participants, far surpassing the expectations of the planning team. The app was accessed over 170,000 times as younger leaders and mentors used the app to communicate throughout YLG2016.

Morning plenaries gave room for Scripture Engagement with Anne Zaki, Richard Chin, and René Breuel as Bible Expositors, and the evening sessions centred around ‘Wisdom for World Evangelization’, with speakers representing every region including Os Guinness, Ravi Zacharias, Becky Pippert, Marina Silva, David Platt, and others.

“The theme of YLG2016 was United in the Great Story, centred on the biblical story of God’s purposes across human history,” says David Benson, Programme Chair for the gathering.

“We heard afresh the call to create, repent, bless, love, reconcile, and worship. Through sharing our stories in the context of widespread cultural diversity, we have been inspired to re-imagine what it looks like to cultivate God’s world, turn from idolatry, respond to redemption, restore peace, and work for God’s glory.”

Throughout the gathering, major challenges for this generation have been tackled: how to proclaim the truth of Christ in a skeptical world, what does it mean to preach the whole gospel and the Lordship of Christ over poverty and the environment, how to respond to different conceptions of human sexuality, the persecuted church, and major challenges facing evangelicalism in the next decades.

In between the plenary sessions, there was much room for prayer and strategizing for global mission.

The presence of the Chinese delegation at the YLG after their hindrance to attend the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town 2010 was a particular joy. The Chinese participants intensely pursued strategic discussions with nearly every other region of the world seeking to discover how they could partner for global mission.

They have a vision called Mission China 2030 to send 20,000 missionaries overseas by 2030. Their meeting with African participants at YLG2016 was particularly fruitful as more than one million Chinese live in Africa and present a largely unreached people group for the African church. Another strong connection point the Holy Spirit was orienting many to was North Korea (DPRK).  

‘The gathering has been organized by younger leaders and for younger leaders, most of whom are likely to become the shaping voice of global evangelicalism. But we know we’re not self-sufficient as a generation. I strongly believe that this week has been a defining moment, when our generation consciously stepped into the rich heritage of the Lausanne Movement, looking at God’s mission from a global perspective’—reflects Sarah Breuel, Chair of the YLG2016 Planning Team.

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