Lausanne Movement Gathers 1,000 Young Leaders in Indonesia: 'A Generation Can Repackage Truth, but Bible Does Not Change' (Interview)

Richard Coleman, member of the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering planning team, speaking in Indonesia in August 2016. | (Photo: 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering)

Close to 1,000 young Christian leaders from as many as 160 countries have reportedly gathered for the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia, focused on tackling some of the biggest challenges of their generation, such as standing up for biblical truth amid cultural pressure.

YLG2016, which is taking place between August 3-10 in Jakarta, is only the third time the Lausanne Movement has organized such a gathering, with the previous ones taking place in Singapore in 1987 and Malaysia in 2006.

The theme has been set as "United in the Great Story," and looks at how every continent and people group across history takes part in God's great story.

Richard Coleman, a member of the YLG planning team, who for the first two-and-a-half years of the three year planning process served as global selection chair, told The Christian Post in an interview that the greatest challenge facing young Evangelicals today is the "pressure to follow feelings and the culture at the expense of millennia-old truths."

"A generation can repackage the truth. No problem. But that generation shouldn't be redefining the truth. With such a lack of Bible knowledge, this generation is getting tossed around a bit much. Yet, there's hope," Coleman said, who is senior director of mobilization and candidacy at The Mission Society.

"They are passionate, and once they set their sights on something…great things can happen."

Coleman, whose current role is speaker care coordinator, as well as evening emcee alongside his teammate Sarah Breuel, said that millennials are facing greater challenges than previous generations when it comes to holding onto their faith.

"There is so much social pressure for inclusion into any and everything. To take a stance against anything carries the risk of being labeled as 'narrow-minded' or 'judgmental.' Add to that the almost immediate persecution through social media, and it can become quite intimidating to proclaim the truths of scripture," he told CP.

The Lausanne Movement started with famous evangelist Dr. Billy Graham in the 1970s, when he began encouraging the church to engage with the rapid changes in society, and urged evangelicals around to world to seek unity.

The fist International Congress on World Evangelization was held in July 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland, drawing in 2,400 participants, and began the movement that continues to seek to galvanize the church in sharing the Gospel with the world.

Coleman noted that the 1,000 Younger Leaders Gathering participants come from many different countries and backgrounds, and so while they agree on the Lausanne Covenant, they are not uniform in their thinking, as they are part of a movement, not a denomination.

"Issues such as the place of women in ministry, differing opinions to contextualization, varying approaches to charismatic gifts — just to name a few — will forever be controversial topics," he reflected.

"However, there are some issues that almost everyone in the Movement would consider as going against the very fabric of the Scriptures. These are shared across geographical and denominational boundaries. Interestingly, some of these subjects will be addressed during the YLG2016."

As for why Indonesia was chosen as the host country this year, the planning team member explained that the original location was planned in Kiev in the summer of 2015, but the conflict with pro-Russian separatists broke out in Ukraine, and so another destination had to be chosen.

"A few places were considered, but a conversation b/n Lausanne CEO, Michael Oh, and an Indonesian leader led to Jakarta being selected as the venue. The Indonesian people have been wonderful in accommodating such a large group, and they have extended us true hospitality," Coleman said.

"The effects of the YLG2016 will be to connect influencers and ideas for global mission, which is the stated mission of the Lausanne Movement. It is also to launch an ongoing initiative to equip, encourage, mentor, and fan into flame younger leaders," he added.

The event states that YLG2016 will serve as a "springboard" for the Younger Leaders Generation, which is a ten-year commitment focused on walking alongside the YLG2016 participants "through regionally based mentoring, networking, and cutting-edge missional resourcing."

"The vision for YLGen extends beyond the 1,000 participants at YLG2016 to also connect many more emerging leaders in the generation who are passionately committed to God's mission," the website explains.

Further information about the YLG2016, alongside ways to connect, are available on the movement's website.

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