4,200 evangelical Christian leaders from 198 countries gathered in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2010 for the 3rd Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization. Following on the heels of the first Lausanne conference led by Billy Graham in 1974, this most recent Lausanne gathering included evangelical leaders from a variety of denominations and traditions, from countries wealthy and poor, and from the many diverse cultures spanning the globe. As part of their gathering, they unified to express their goals in the Cape Town Commitment.
A powerful text, this commitment outlines key biblical convictions of the church and casts a vision for the church’s mission in today’s world. And one of the key components of the Commitment, driven by this diverse and unified body of leaders representing the global (not just the western) church, is environmental stewardship.
What in the world does environmental stewardship have to do with evangelism? To start, it’s a biblical and theological underpinning of our faith. But it is also central to global church leaders because of the many dangerous and deadly ways environmental problems are hurting the world’s poor. A true commitment to evangelism demands an honest and compassionate look at these brutal realities.
Many of us live a “cushy” lifestyle that is protected from a lot of the direct ramifications of environmental degradation – but others around the globe live right smack in the middle of these stark realities. Pollution taints their food, their soil, their air and habitat destruction impacts their livelihoods.
Consider these powerful statements from the Cape Town Commitment:
“The earth is the property of the God we claim to love and obey. We care for the earth, most simply, because it belongs to the one whom we call Lord. . . . Such love for God’s creation demands that we repent of our part in the destruction, waste and pollution of the earth’s resources and our collusion in the toxic idolatry of consumerism. Instead, we commit ourselves to urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility.” The Commitment urges believers to live out “Christ’s peace for his suffering creation” in a way that addresses both world poverty and the abuse of earth’s resources.
So what about you? Will you join me in listening to the concerns of brothers and sisters in Christ from around the globe? Will you join me in inviting God to convict us of ways our privileged, consumeristic lifestyles may be hurting the environment and the poor?
One powerful way to unite with fellow Christians around the globe who are concerned about environmental stewardship and the poor is to pray: to pray personally about these issues (God, what might you be leading me to change in my lifestyle? What practical steps might you be urging me to make?); and to pray about large-scale environmental problems, especially those that affect the most vulnerable among us (the unborn, children, and the poor across the globe).
The Evangelical Environmental Network is hosting the global Day of Prayer for Creation Care and the Poor on April 26th. Will you mark your calendar to join with Christians around the world in prayer this upcoming Thursday?
(Want a resource to guide your prayer time? You can download the “Global Day of Prayer for Creation Care and the Poor Prayer Points” pdf on this page.)