Ministry explores ‘zero growth’ in a positive light

By October 21, 2010

South Africa (MNN) — Over 4,000 delegates are in Cape Town, South
Africa to figure out which direction the global church is moving, without
having to re-invent the wheel on which it moves.

The Third Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization is in the process
of puzzling that out. The tone for the
meetings was set during the October 16 opening address, given by the Lausanne
executive chair, Doug Birdsall.  

He confronted participants with
this question: "How can it be that 2000 years after
the time of Christ and 36 years after the call to take the Gospel to all
nations at [the previous] Congress, there are still those who have not heard?"

In the business world, "Zero Growth" isn't a great indicator of a
healthy business. But in the business of
world evangelism, it means exactly the opposite. Birdsall said, "We
pray that by the time there is a next Lausanne Congress, that the number of
unreached people groups will be at zero."

It's going to take more than programs and meetings to
win the world for Jesus Christ. Bob Creson, president and chief executive
officer of Wycliffe Bible Translators says, "The Church of
the South and East is really going to be playing a prominent role in the
future, so all of us have to figure it out in partnership. How we do this,
particularly in the Bible translation task?"

The Lausanne conference is the perfect place to dream of
ways to get there and open doors to new partnerships. Participants are emphasizing the importance
of supporting, serving and growing this next generation.

And the next generation is exploring new ways to do
things. A new survey reveals that many
of the world's missionaries have gone high tech, staying connected like never
before, and says Creson, "We've had the greatest acceleration of Bible
translation that the world has ever witnessed."

He goes on to add, "The day in which you smuggled Bibles into a particular country that was
closed, that isn't necessary in this day and age. There are other ways to go about making sure
the Good News reaches people. So how do
you use mobile phone technology and all those kinds of things to spread the
Good News?"

There's a feeling of anticipating stirring among the
delegates. As they confront an ever-violent arena,  they go back into the
field with the knowledge that the goal is reachable, now more so than ever
before. "We've got this huge privilege
in this day and age to see that happen," says Creson. "In relation to the unreached people groups,
that number is dropping rapidly as well. So, zero unreached people groups and 
zero Bible translation needs the next
time we meet: THAT is really attainable in this generation!"

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