The Cape Town 2010 Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation ended on Sunday 24 October with a dynamic celebration of Holy Communion. The two and a half hour service was structured around the Anglican Church of Kenya Liturgy. Unfortunately, the Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, who presided over the service, lost his voice and so handed over the responsibility for the readings of the Presiding Minister to Doug Birdsall, the Executive Chairman of the Lausanne Congress Committee.
All Hail the Power of Jesus Name
The auditorium at the Cape Town International Conference Centre was packed to overflowing for this closing ceremony. The service opened with resounding singing of How Great is our God and the great Hymn of the Faith: All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.
Lord of All
It seemed most appropriate to be singing: “Let every kindred, every tribe, on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all.”
Scripture reading and prayers in the Holy Communion order of service were given at different times in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, German, Russian, and Portuguese. The Lord’s Prayer was prayed together with each one praying in their home language.
Scripture and Song
Led by the large choir and talented orchestra, the singing of the Nicenian Creed was most inspirational. Many of the items in the order of service were set to song, Scriptures were read and sung, and the sermon by Lindsay Brown, the International Director for the Lausanne Movement, was powerful. He had studied History at Oxford and Theology at Paris, served with Operation Mobilisation on the MV Doulas and served in campus ministry in Wales. Mr Brown now trains university evangelists in Europe.
The Greatest Message
Some quotes from his sermon: “The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest message of all time. It is wonderful, unique and true. That is why we have met together this week.”
The Uniqueness of Christ
“First, we want to sound a ringing affirmation to the uniqueness of Christ and the truth of the Biblical Gospel, presenting a clear statement on Evangelism and the Mission of the Church.
The Lordship of Christ over All Areas of Life
“Second, we want to bring a fresh challenge to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all His teachings, in every part of the world, not only geographically, but in every sphere of society and in the realm of ideas. We need to identify and respond to the key issues. There is not one centimeter of human existence to which Christ, who is Lord of all, does not point and say: That is Mine!
Applying Biblical Principles to Every Area of Society
“We maintain too much and pioneer too little. We cannot ignore the truth of the Bible, the uniqueness of Christ and the need for Conversion. Evangelicals are Gospel people. There is a need for authentic Biblical Christianity in our life and message. We need to give a ringing affirmation of the Deity and sovereignty of Christ. We need to call the Christian Church to return to the Bible and be recommitted to applying the Lordship of Jesus Christ to all areas of life. We need to apply Biblical principles to every area of society: media, business, universities, workplace, and environment.
Universities for Christ
We need to recapture the universities for Christ. Change universities and you will change the world.
Partnering to Fulfill the Great Commission
“Thirdly, we hope that many fruitful partnerships and friendships will come out of this congress. We cannot be driven by competition. This must give way to a spirit of partnership where men and women, and people of different ethnicities, join hands together under Christ to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
“Fourthly, we trust that this congress will inspire new, creative initiatives. Our message is Christocentric and our calling is to present the Deity, death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. What is so special about the Christian faith? Jesus Christ is incomparable!
Authentic and Joyful
“We must not over focus on techniques, or clever approaches. We dare not say that we will accomplish this task because of money and technology. It will only be accomplished because of the greatness of the Gospel and the power of God. We need to focus on the truth of the Gospel, the Lordship of Christ with authentic, transformed, and joyful lives.
In Word and Deed
“Some of us are Word-Centered and our challenge will be to balance our Gospel proclamation with empathy and care for the needy and broken. For those in ministries of compassion, our challenge may be to ensure that we sensitively, compassionately and wisely also communicate the Gospel verbally. Our model is Jesus Christ who both spoke to, and fed, the 5,000.
“We must remember our calling to persevere to the end and not lose heart. Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, and all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
There was much that was Biblical, balanced and a blessing in this concluding service of the Cape Town 2010 Congress. Certainly the good far outweighs the negative. However, I cannot help but mention three deep concerns, which I know are shared by other participants.
Women in Church Leadership
Firstly, the issue of women leadership, particularly in administering the sacraments, is a matter of serious debate and controversy within the church. Yet women were involved in dispensing the communion elements at every level, from Grace Matthews as Assisting Minister, at the main table, through to the various serving points throughout the auditorium.
When Art can become Idolatry
Secondly, while I greatly appreciate the importance and power of good visual presentations, the screening of many artistic representations of how artists believe Jesus looked, during the worship service, and particularly during the singing of Hymns, is disturbing. Most Reformed Christians have a major problem with art depicting Deity being used in any worship context. Art can be used for Education and Evangelism, but to use it in a worship setting can encourage idolatrous thoughts and practice, confusing an artist’s imagination with the one true God whom we should be seeking to worship in Spirit and in Truth.
It was also distracting, and in my opinion, inappropriate, for there to be ostentatious dancing directly in front of the communion table, during what, after all, was a worship service.
Crown Him with Many Crowns
The Cape Town 2010 Congress was concluded with the great Hymn of the Faith: “Crown Him with many Crowns, the Lamb upon His Throne; Hark! How the Heavenly anthem drown all music but its own. Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee and hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.” This was also the concluding Hymn of the World Missions Conference in Edinburgh, 1910. It is a great tribute to the faith, vision and sacrifices of previous generations of missionaries that the Gospel is so firmly entrenched in every country on earth.
To the Ends of the Earth
For this service a hundred communion sets had been borrowed, each from a local church. These represent the remembering of Christ’s death across many nations. As Doug Birdsall declared: “We are a global movement, committed to the local church.”
“The whole Church, taking the whole Gospel, to the whole world.”
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