The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia held a regional consultation on “Evangelism and Missional Witness in a Multi-religious Asia” from 29 November to 5 December.
Convening in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the gathering explored evangelism as an effective means to extend and spread the good news. The WCC and the Christian Conference of Asia have a long history and tradition of being deeply involved in mission and evangelism through different programmatic areas.
The consultation is the fourth in a series of regional meetings planned by the Mission and Evangelism Programme of the WCC.
Forty participants comprised an inter-generational group of missiologists, evangelists, young pastors, theological educators, and ecclesiastical leaders representing member churches of the WCC and Christian Conference of Asia, as well as the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the Asian Evangelical Alliance.
Dr Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, stated at the opening session: “Churches and para-church groups, as well as their related mission and evangelism projects, compete vehemently with each other in Asia in the name of propagating ‘gospel to the unreached’. When they make exclusive claims in the name of the gospel, such claims when shared and taken for granted, need deeper exegetical studies.”
In a communique, the participants affirmed: “The ways in which the gospel is preached and reaches people in diverse contexts reminds us of the need for diverse approaches to evangelism and mission.”
They also emphasized the interrelatedness of discipleship, evangelism, and God’s mission.
The participants opined: “Churches in Asia should make deliberate attempts to ensure ample time for deepening reflections on specific areas and priorities within the work of evangelization.” They acknowledged that “the quality of discipleship should be the primary focus of evangelization rather than concern about increasing membership in congregations.”