The article endorsed a proactive role for every Christian practitioner to become more consistent in their practice f Christianity as members of a “missional congregation. ” It defined missional congregations as “those communities of Christ-followers who see the church as the people of God who are sent on a mission. To a large extent their identity is rooted in what they do apart from a church service or a church building. ” It challenges local churches to spread the gospel beyond the Constantinian model of church that attracts pagans to leave their culture and join the congregation in church.
As one of the role models of this method, Ojibwa missionary Mark Peske said for an improved relations with non-Christians to “speak the gospel on their terms – in their homes, in their boats – as a friend and as an equal. ” The article endorsed to leave behind the Constantinian system and build relationships as influenced by family and friends. Churches should allocate resources and time where people live and work. To be successful, churches must also immerse themselves in the culture of the people most effectively through listening. It has to humbly respect other cultures as its equal. The church must be able to meet needs, unconditionally.
It is endorsed to nurture a long-term perspective due to the long process for relational evangelism. Through the Holy Spirit, prayer for renewal of spiritual power is bestowed on the community, and spreads beyond when blessings are selflessly shared with others. Like any other structure, the churches need not adhere to one kind of formation through “loving the neighbor” and “making disciples. ” In this context, the LOP article started assailing Roman Catholicism as “old structures [that] become a hindrance for evangelism and mission” as it endorsed the lay ministry of the 20-80 principle where 20% of the congregation minister the 80%.
It also endorsed the three-dimensional “life through worship, community and mission” such as manifested in the Tribal Generation in Sheffield, England which teaches the “up-in-out” structure that encompasses relations with God, the body, and mission service. In immersion of cultures, the baggage of “Christianity” should not be mandated but instead encourage a non-synagogue model of planting communities. In an expanded manner, a “come and go” system is also endorsed, where come is the inviting, and go is the dynamic mission structure.
It hopes to achieve a “church as an egalitarian fellowship of closely connected people” foregoing the institutional or even business model. As the previous Lausanne Forum indicated, the paper reiterated to “affirm the priesthood of all believers and call on the church to equip, encourage and empower women, men and youth to fulfill their calling as witnesses and co-laborers in the world wide task of evangelization”. A vigilant recruitment of new members or previously non-members was strongly encouraged with multiple options seen as best employed to train all members as evangelists and disciples.
The second part of the paper reinforces the tentmaking scheme of evangelization, with tentmakers defined as secular believers with cross-cultural approach to evangelizing. The tentmaking process endorses a system for the proposed missional congregation of locally addressing issues through immersion and readiness in the advent of opportunity to mingle with local non-believers. In a business-context, it defined a marketing approach towards evalngelization. This paper will proceed to focus on the first portion of the LOP.
Reaction Many ideal options are presented by the Lausanne Occasional Paper 39 that are adoptable and practical for many local churches or congregations. One of the most notable is the empowerment of every church member to become an evangelist and disciple. It failed to consider, however, the deeper meaning of an evangelist and disciple and opted to focus on the easy ways of mass-training members to become such. Religion or issues about it has become too sensitive for many non-believers, or for those who refuse to believe it.
In reality, even Christians are divided in many sectors due to differences of understanding about Biblical passages as if evangelism is only a matter of converting a pagan into Christianity. While the observation about cultural respect and adaptation to the locality is laudable, the side-swiping of Catholicism hierarchy was very obvious and confrontational. The longevity and achievement of the Catholic Church in conveying the gospel to pagans did not lack challenges and insurmountable problems.
Indeed, it is until today one of the most assailed organization that seem to be the slowest to adopt changes, thanks in part to its size and adherence to tradition. LOP, in this position is not the first to note this, however, as Protestantism itself has branched out to hundreds of groups since. What is most alarming about the paper is the recommendation of a practice about branding as “living in sin” (p 14) members of a congregation who fail to bring in new recruits within a span of one month. As the paper itself has highlighted, evangelism is a long process that is built of relationships.
Practice which is seen as community life within the locality is the best form of evangelism but as the Catholics before them have already committed, the LOP is once again reviving a practice best left as a lesson in history. Conclusion Evangelization and Christianity is intertwined in the context of this article that pursues worship, community and mission, a long practice of many Christian congregations since the success of the outreach Bible studies started by Protestant groups and soon adopted by the Catholic Church.
A joint effort of all ministries irrespective of identity will bear fruit once the LOP members adhere to what the article proposes: to respect culture of groups and individuals and integrate a true Christian meaning to the mission which not only meant serving but also sacrifice. These are both challenging and themselves insurmountable for many congregation leaders. In deeper analysis, faith itself remains a burden that members and their leaders need to address.