The Lausanne Movement includes sessions and forums that are dedicated to different issues and topics related to the question of evangelization. Lausanne Occasional Papers are usually presented as reports on the sessions of Issue Groups. In this context, Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39 is a report on the conclusions made after “the Forum for World Evangelization” that was held in Thailand in 2004, and the theme of the Forum was “A new vision, a new heart, a renewed call”1.
As it is stated in the foreword to the report, it was important to attract more participants to discuss the problems of building the missional congregations and to focus on advantages of tentmaking while seeking “new direction from the Holy Spirit for world evangelization”2.
From this point, Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39 presents the information on missional congregations as well as on tentmaking, and it is important to summarize the main points of the paper and to analyze them in the context of the discussed issue.
Summary of the Main Points of Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39
The report is divided into two main sections, where the first section discusses the concept of a missional congregation as well as the decisions made during the session regarding the building of missional congregations in the community. The second part of the report presents the opinions on tentmaking.
It is stated in the report that the information on missional congregations depends on the previous research in local churches during which the role of missions was examined. Thus, the participants of the Forum “explored how to involve the local church in the expression of the gospel both in the ‘building up’ of the disciples as well as to those outside the faith community, to the ends of the earth”3.
According to the report, a missional congregation is a community or a church of Christ-followers who “are sent on a mission”4. The first section offers the complete list of advantages of missional congregations. It is stated in the report that missional congregations contribute to building relations and meeting people’s needs; they can address different cultures and pray for the renewal and benefits of other people without references to the religion or culture; their structures are holistic and the detailed discussion of the leadership in terms of missional congregations is provided.
The authors of the report also point at the roles of missional congregations’ representatives as missionaries, disciples, and priests. According to the idea of a missional congregation, each Christian should be a missionary that can promote the principles of evangelism as a priest, while supporting the other people’s culture, addressing their needs, and supporting connections of missional congregations5.
In the second part of the report, the main point for discussion is tentmaking. According to the authors, tentmaking is “a way in which members of the body of Christ can use their professional gifts as a means of taking the gospel to those who otherwise would not hear the Good News”6.
As a result, tentmaking is viewed as an effective approach to make people feel secured in spite of such issues as religious intolerance or violence. Thus, the authors of the report discuss the ways of finding and training tentmakers in detail in their report.
Reflections and Ideas on Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39
Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39 can be discussed as an important source in order to understand the role of modern missionaries in spreading the Word of God and principles of evangelization globally. The comments on who can serve as a missionary and how to cooperate with representatives of other cultures are supported with effective examples, and they sound as rather convincing arguments.
It is possible to agree that even young people and women can serve as missionaries because they have the belief in their hearts7. Furthermore, much attention is paid to the discussion of the impact of globalization on the development of missional congregations and on opening more opportunities for missionaries.
From this perspective, the meaning of the missional congregation can be viewed with references to the following statement: “Every local congregation is only a true representative of the body of Christ when they serve the world in mission”8. In addition, focusing on the idea of a missional congregation, it is possible to state that it is a kind of an organizational structure that is necessary for people because such holistic structures as congregations can be a good choice to provide support for individuals.
However, there are statements in the report that can provoke more discussion. Concentrating on the role of missionaries and priests that can be played by each Christian regardless the status and position, the authors of the report note that each missionary is oriented to spreading the principles of evangelism among more persons while “bringing people to church at least monthly” as a “minimum responsibility”9.
Such limits can be discussed as rather surprising. In this situation, missionaries can be viewed as not only serving and encouraging people but also as involving them in a congregation. Nevertheless, the proposed model of the local church life can be successful, and it is possible to agree with the authors that the modern church should be modified to look like a congregation.
The other important question to focus on is tentmaking. First, it seems that the idea is rather challenging for the society because the previously followed patterns of the church life differed significantly. However, the authors of the report provide rather useful comments on how tentmaking can be realized in the country and globally and what training should be proposed to tentmakers in order to achieve the higher results.
Reading the report, it is possible to conclude that tentmaking is a proper choice for modern communities where it is necessary to avoid the religious intolerance, to cope with different cultural conflicts, to prevent prejudice and aggression toward immigrants, and to meet expectations associated with the globalization changes. From this point, it is possible to agree that such approaches as the building of missional congregations and tentmaking can provide people with more happiness, security, and belief in God’s mercy.
Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39 provides a reader with a lot of opportunities to think about the aspects of missions and tentmaking. Referring to the report, it is possible to discuss the ways of transformation for traditional local churches while focusing on the advantages of missional congregations described in the report in detail.
The authors of the report provide reasons to view missional congregations as a new form of uniting people who follow the teachings and principles of evangelism not only in local communities but also globally.
Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. “The Local Church in Mission: Becoming a Missional Congregation in the Twenty-First Century Global Context and the Opportunities Offered Through Tentmaking Ministry (Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39)”. Web.
1 Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, “The Local Church in Mission: Becoming a Missional Congregation in the Twenty-First Century Global Context and the Opportunities Offered Through Tentmaking Ministry (Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 39)”.
2 Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, “The Local Church in Mission”, 3.
3 Ibid., 7.
4 Ibid., 7.
5 Ibid., 10.
6 Ibid., 22.
7 Ibid., 10.
8 Ibid., 8.
9 Ibid., 14.