Children Are At Risk

by Doug Morrell Children's Church, Curriculum, Discipleship, Discipling Resources, Evangelism Add comments

The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town, 16-25 October 2010) brought together 4,200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries, and extended to hundreds of thousands more, participating in meetings around the world, and online. Its goal? To bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching – in every nation, in every sphere of society, and in the realm of ideas. The following is an excerpt from the proceedings.

5. Children

All children are at risk. There are about two billion children in our world, and half of them are at risk from poverty. Millions are at risk from prosperity. Children of the wealthy and secure have everything to live with, but nothing to live for.

Children and young people are the Church of today, not merely of tomorrow. Young people have great potential as active agents in God’s mission. They represent an enormous under-used pool of influencers with sensitivity to the voice of God and a willingness to respond to him. We rejoice in the excellent ministries that serve among and with children, and long for such work to be multiplied since the need is so great. As we see in the Bible, God can and does use children and young people – their prayers, their insights, their words, their initiatives – in changing hearts. They represent ‘new energy’ to transform the world. Let us listen and not stifle their childlike spirituality with our adult rationalistic approaches.

We commit ourselves to:

A) Take children seriously, through fresh biblical and theological enquiry that reflects on God’s love and purpose for them and through them, and by rediscovering the profound significance for theology and mission of Jesus’ provocative action in placing ‘a child in the midst’.[81]

B) Seek to train people and provide resources to meet the needs of children worldwide, wherever possible working with their families and communities, in the conviction that holistic ministry to and through each next generation of children and young people is a vital component of world mission.

C) Expose, resist, and take action against all abuse of children, including violence, exploitation, slavery, trafficking, prostitution, gender and ethnic discrimination, commercial targeting, and willful neglect.

Conclusion

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. God’s Spirit was in Cape Town, calling the Church of Christ to be ambassadors of God’s reconciling love for the world. God kept the promise of his Word as his people met together in Christ’s name, for the Lord Jesus Christ himself dwelt among us, and walked among us.[102]

We sought to listen to the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ. And in his mercy, through his Holy Spirit, Christ spoke to his listening people. Through the many voices of Bible exposition, plenary addresses, and group discussion, two repeated themes were heard:

  • The need for radical obedient discipleship, leading to maturity, to growth in depth as well as growth in numbers;
  • The need for radical cross-centred reconciliation, leading to unity, to growth in love as well as growth in faith and hope.
  • Discipleship and reconciliation are indispensable to our mission. We lament the scandal of our shallowness and lack of discipleship, and the scandal of our disunity and lack of love. For both seriously damage our witness to the gospel.

We discern the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ in these two challenges because they correspond to two of Christ’s most emphatic words to the Church as recorded in the gospels. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gave us our primary mandate – to make disciples among all nations. In John’s Gospel, Jesus gave us our primary method – to love one another so that the world will know we are disciples of Jesus. We should not be surprised, but rather rejoice to hear the Master’s voice, when Christ says the same things 2,000 years later to his people gathered from all around the world. Make disciples. Love one another.

Make disciples

Biblical mission demands that those who claim Christ’s name should be like him, by taking up their cross, denying themselves, and following him in the paths of humility, love, integrity, generosity, and servanthood. To fail in discipleship and disciple-making, is to fail at the most basic level of our mission. The call of Christ to his Church comes to us afresh from the pages of the gospels: ‘Come and follow me’; ‘Go and make disciples’.

[81] Mark 9:33-37
[102] Leviticus 26:11-12; Matthew 18:20; 28:20
THE CAPE TOWN COMMITMENT, © 2011 The Lausanne Movement.
Source: The Cape Town Commitment

Additional Training Video: Aim Lower. Think Smaller.

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