In June, I accepted an invitation to be part of the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum (GWF) in Manila, Philippines. I had the privilege of attending with 800 other attendees from 170 countries. It was a memorable conference for a couple of specific reasons.
First, like many in ECO, I have been encouraged by the Lausanne movement and their ability to synergize evangelical Christians around the world to catalyze global evangelization. I was honored to be able to meet with current leaders within the Lausanne movement to learn more about the organization, the way it works, and their vision for the future. As we talked together, there was a great sense that Lausanne and ECO could stimulate one another’s Kingdom mission.
Secondly, and my main reason to be there was that I was excited to attend a gathering that focused on ministry in the workplace. Michael Oh, Global Executive Director of Lausanne movement, wrote an excellent article in Christianity today that you may want to read, called “An Apology to the Christian 99% from the 1%” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/apology-christian-99-1-percent-lausanne-gwf-michael-oh.html).
The statements Michael makes in this article resonate with me and the spirit of our desire within ECO to “Unleash the Laity.” It's fantastic that this conference on workplace ministry was led by those who are actually involved in workplace ministry. Between presentations, devotionals on the book of Daniel, table discussions, breakout groups, learning labs, and formal conversations, there were plenty of avenues to process what the Lord is doing in a variety of ways. I encourage you to go to the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum website (https://www.lausanne.org/gwf) and check out the overview videos and watch any plenary session or devotion that may pique your interest.
I had a couple of key takeaways from my time in Manila. First, God is doing amazing things around the world and using unique and gifted people filled with creativity and courage to change their communities with the gospel. While many people are using their workplaces as opportunities to show and share the gospel, there were many individuals and companies that were taking on multiple challenges at the same time. For example, a toothbrush factory in Manila is specifically employing the deaf, who don’t get opportunities in other places as they may get in the United States. At the same time, they are improving the health of their communities and they were graciously, yet clearly, sharing the Good News. I know there are many people in our churches as well, whom God is calling to use their talents and skills to address multiple challenges that beat with the heart of our Lord!
Second, when I hear “lay ministry” or “the ministry of the laity” talked about, it is often understood as the lay people helping to run ministries and programs of the church. While there are certainly great opportunities to serve within the church (and we do need volunteers!), too often we limit the scope of lay people to serving only in the church. Instead, it is our hope to ensure that in addition to serving in the church, we are unleashing our lay people to serve in the contexts in which God has placed them - outside of the church.
In ECO’s 2030 Vision, we articulated that we desire to have hundreds of thousands of people equipped for daily gospel influence. We make the comparison that the Spirit of God will send us out just like the wind scatters dandelion seeds. We know the only way that the multiplication of so many leaders will take place is when God’s people are truly sent into spaces outside of church. The most natural place for many people to serve is in their work environment. My hope is that in ECO, as a whole denomination, as well as our local congregations, we would be challenging and equipping our people to live out the gospel in every environment where we live, work, and play.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to learn and grow at the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum. I pray that you would also be able to take advantage of their work and resources that are available so that we may continue to unleash our laity and see what God will do through us in order to bring others into a life-changing relationship with Him.