World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Mission2018 / Programme


Programme of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism.

Dowload the tentative programm (pdf, 275 kb) of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, which will take place from 8-13 March 2018 in Arusha, Tanzania.

Four Characteristics of the Conference

A Mission Conference
As the conference follows in the long tradition of the International Mission Council (IMC) and the WCC CWME of holding mission conferences roughly every decade, it is important that it be planned and experienced as a mission conference. The conference will understand mission as a multivalent activity. This includes joyful witness in word and deed to the person of Jesus Christ and his gospel; commitment to working for justice and reconciliation among all peoples and within all of creation; and participation in interfaith, secular, and ecumenical dialogue that seeks mutual understanding and common witness. The conference will celebrate the unity of all peoples as it marvels at their God-given diversity. It will reflect thoughtfully on various issues of missionary practice and seek new ways of being faithful to God’s mission in the world with the leading of the Spirit.

An Ecumenical Conference

As the conference is organized by the WCC’s CWME, it is important that it be planned and experienced as an ecumenical conference. Firstly, this means that those attending the conference will be active representation of mainline Protestant, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal, and African Instituted churches. Secondly, it means that efforts will be made to engage the delegates to the conference in a dialogue that is open, loving, and honest. Thirdly, it will celebrate the unity of the churches and the unity between the church and mission already achieved, while lamenting that the scandal of disunity still mars the body of Christ. Fourthly, it will encourage local ecumenical initiatives — especially in Africa — in their efforts to achieve unity among the churches in their particular areas. In whatever way it can, the conference will build connections with the WCC’s vision of participating in a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

An African Conference

As the conference will take place in Africa for the first time since 1958 in Achimota, Ghana, it is important that it be planned and experienced as an African conference. This will mean:

  • that the spirit of African rhythms, music, and art will pervade the environment in which the conference is held and in the times of our worship together;
  • that the conference must attend to the signs of the times that particularly affect African peoples and African lands — signs of both threat and promise;
  • that the conference will source the rich gifts of one of the most vibrant regions of World Christianity in terms of its spirituality and cultivation of life;
  • that the conference will promote the contribution of the African context to current perspectives and understandings of mission and to shaping mission theology and practice into the future; and
  • that a significant number of the speakers chosen for the plenary addresses and worships will be African and that a significant number of participants will be women, men, and youth of Africa.

A Young Mission Leaders’ Conference
As the conference is to influence the future of mission thinking and practice in the next decade, it will be important that youth of the church are present and actively participate. This will mean that the more than 100 young students, scholars, and church leaders participating in the GETI (Global Ecumenical Theological Institute) programme will take active part in all the worship events, plenary sessions, and workshops reflections of the conference. It will also mean that the number of youth participants from the various constituencies of CWME will be significant — at least 33 percent of the total number of delegates to the conference. They need to take their rightful place in the conference so that we may be inspired and equipped to continue the work of mission and the ecumenical movement in the future. Youth do not represent just the future of the church. They are the church of today.


Theme of the Conference

Given the aims of the conference and the discernment of the signs of the times, the commission wrestled with and prayed over ideas about a theme and arrived at the following offering: “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.”

The first part of the theme, with its reference to Galatians 5:25 — “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (KJV) — is profound in its very simplicity. As we discern together the signs of the times, it is evident that despite the chaos of human disunity in which we live and witness today, there are many signs of the Holy Spirit giving life and creating hope. Africa, in particular, represents a site in which the Holy Spirit is breathing life into the church. Moving in the Spirit brings the notion of pilgrimage, of an on-going journey of all believers, led and guided by the Holy Spirit. This is a pilgrimage that is characterized by constant hope for a transformed world of justice and peace and a commitment to renewal in Christ. This theme offers a prophetic message amidst the messy complexities of today’s world.

The second part of the theme calls us to transforming discipleship. We are called to be disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, to whom we witness and whom we proclaim as we move in the Spirit. How we understand the phrase “transforming discipleship” carries three profoundly different and yet closely related meanings. We are called to live a life that transforms the very notion of discipleship as it is often understood. Such discipleship is one that is constantly transforming disciples as they open themselves up to Christ’s influence in their lives and to the formation that takes place in the Christian community. And such discipleship is one that is a commitment to transforming the world that is so full of injustice, pain, and suffering.

First, the very idea of discipleship needs to be transformed. Discipleship is often understood merely in the sense of being in a loving, friendly relationship with Jesus. While this is a profound truth, the discipleship that we intend to emphasize is one that is not only a relationship, but is actively engaged in continuing Jesus’ mission in the world. To know Jesus is to follow him in what he did. In what the church’s early theologians called “theosis” or deification, we share God’s nature by sharing in God’s mission. Discipleship, therefore, is what Pope Francis has called “missionary discipleship.” It calls us to witness to Jesus and to the kingdom that he preached, and, when appropriate, to proclaim Jesus’ name and his gospel as well. It calls us to an evangelism that is done in Christ’s way.

Second, we are called to be disciples who are constantly open to being transformed, individually and communally, in our following of Jesus. Discipleship commits us to embark on a spiritual journey that will continually challenge us and shape us into people who reflect the Lord Jesus in our actions, words, and attitudes. Discipleship commits us to disciplines of prayer, practices that shape our character and hearts, and to the cultivation of habits that give us strength and courage to live lives of Christian witness.

Third, we are called to be disciples who are ourselves transforming, and as such we are privileged to join in the mission of the triune God, working together towards life, living out the values of the kingdom of God, and engaging in mission from the margins. In a world in which injustice seems almost insuperable, where hatred and racism seem to thrive, where suffering is so widespread and terrifying, our discipleship is costly. It calls us to put a theology of the cross into practice. It calls us to spend our energy and even offer our lives for the transformation that the kingdom promises.

What will it mean for us, as individuals and churches, to be transformed in the power of the Holy Spirit? What will it mean to join the Spirit in transforming and healing a broken world? These are the questions with which our conference will grapple.

Bible passage: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)

Sub-themes and Sections

Themes for Plenaries

  • Thursday: Journeying Together: Celebrating and Lamenting
  • Friday: Following Jesus: Becoming Disciples
  • Saturday: Becoming Disciples: Transforming the World
  • Monday: Transforming the World: Equipping Disciples
  • Tuesday: Equipped Disciples: Embracing the Cross

Warsha Sessions

  • Migration
  • Evangelism
  • Life in All Its Fullness
  • Diversity
  • Formation

Sokoni Sessions

  • Youth
  • Gender Justice
  • Mission from the Margins


Style of the Conference

Celebratory: The tone of the conference should be one of celebration, for it is a vibrant gathering of God’s people to give thanks and praise for God’s mercy and the continuous use of us for God’s mission.

Historic: This should be another historic mission conference, characterized by a dynamic vision of mission for the future and how we can move together in mission for justice and peace.

Informative: Sharing our stories and life in mission and committing to solidarity with those who suffer, including persecuted Christians, will be featured throughout the conference. This sharing of information will shape our discussions, conversations, and reflections on how we can discern together the Spirit’s leading and guidance during this momentous event.

Learning: We will be a learning community as we seek to grow together for the sake of God’s mission.

Technological: The use of modern technology will be a strong feature of the conference. Every effort will be made to use the internet, instant communication, social media, and press releases, so as to raise the profile of the conference and to keep our churches and ecumenical partners informed daily.

Spiritual: The Spiritual life of the conference will be innovative, artistic, and creative, and reflect the multicultural nature of Christ’s body.