Cape Town Commitment: Preamble Whole Gospel Taken to the Whole World by the Whole Church

Here is the Commitment’s Preamble. It reaffirms the connection to the work of the Lausanne Congresses of the past (Lausanne, 1974, Manila, 1989).

Here is the Commitment’s Preamble. It reaffirms the connection to the work of the Lausanne Congresses of the past (Lausanne, 1974, Manila, 1989).

It notes the growth of Christianity in key parts of the world, especially in Africa. Two-thirds of all the world’s Christians live now in the global east and south. It reaffirms the gospel and spiritual need in the midst of rapid changes in the world tied to globalization and the digital revolution.

It is this balance between the need for spiritual change and engaging the world that makes this statement so valuable. There is no need to force a choice between the gospel and what it gives people in terms of how to live before God in this world. Motivating it all is a commitment to reflect the love of God as one testifies to Him in word and deed. God’s own love initiates this response of love and act of worship in response that engages in mission. This the Commitment begins with a reaffirmation of commitment to the mission of God in the world. This commimtent to God's mission is a wonderful central hub around which to build a ministry, whether it be a personal ministry or one that reflects an organization.

So here is the Preamble.


As members of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ, we joyfully affirm our commitment to the living God and his saving purposes through the Lord Jesus Christ. For his sake we renew our commitment to the vision and goals of The Lausanne Movement.

This means two things:

First, we remain committed to the task of bearing worldwide witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching. The First Lausanne Congress(1974) was convened for the task of world evangelization. Among its major gifts to the world Church were: (i) The Lausanne Covenant; (ii) a new awareness of the number of unreached people groups; and (iii) a fresh discovery of the holistic nature of the biblical gospel and of Christian mission. The Second Lausanne Congress,in Manila (1989), gave birth to more than 300 strategic partnerships in world evangelization, including many that involved co-operation between nations in all parts of the globe.

And second, we remain committed to the primary documents of the Movement – The Lausanne Covenant (1974), and The Manila Manifesto (1989). These documents clearly express core truths of the biblical gospel and apply them to our practical mission in ways that are still relevant and challenging. We confess that we have not been faithful to commitments made in those documents. But we commend them and stand by them, as we seek to discern how we must express and apply the eternal truth of the gospel in the ever-changing world of our own generation.

The realities of change

Almost everything about the way we live, think and relate to one another is changing at an accelerating pace. For good or ill, we feel the impact of globalization, of the digital revolution, and of the changing balance of economic and political power in the world. Some things we face cause us grief and anxiety – global poverty, war, ethnic conflict, disease, the ecological crisis and climate change. But one great change in our world is a cause for rejoicing – and that is the growth of the global Church of Christ.

The fact that the Third Lausanne Congress has taken place in Africa is proof of this. At least two thirds of all the world’s Christians now live in the continents of the global south and east. The composition of our Cape Town Congress reflected this enormous shift in world Christianity in the century since the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910. We rejoice in the amazing growth of the Church in Africa, and we rejoice that our African sisters and brothers in Christ hosted this Congress. At the same time, we could not meet in South Africa without being mindful of the past years of suffering under apartheid. So we give thanks for the progress of the gospel and the sovereign righteousness of God at work in recent history, while wrestling still with the ongoing legacy of evil and injustice. Such is the double witness and role of the Church in every place.

We must respond in Christian mission to the realities of our own generation. We must also learn from that mixture of wisdom and error, of achievement and failure, that we inherit from previous generations. We honour and lament the past, and we engage with the future, in the name of the God who holds all history in his hand.

Unchanged realities

In a world which works to re-invent itself at an ever-accelerated pace, some things remain the same. These great truths provide the biblical rationale for our missional engagement.

  • Human beings are lost.The underlying human predicament remains as the Bible describes it: we stand under the just judgment of God in our sin and rebellion, and without Christ we are without hope.
  • The gospel is good news. The gospel is not a concept that needs fresh ideas, but a story that needs fresh telling. It is the unchanged story of what God has done to save the world, supremely in the historical events of the life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus Christ. In Christ there is hope.
  • The Church’s mission goes on. The mission of God continues to the ends of the earth and to the end of the world. The day will come when the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ and God will dwell with his redeemed humanity in the new creation. Until that day, the Church’s participation in God’s mission continues, in joyful urgency, and with fresh and exciting opportunities in every generation including our own.

The passion of our love

This Statement is framed in the language of love. Love is the language of covenant. The biblical covenants, old and new, are the expression of God’s redeeming love and grace reaching out to lost humanity and spoiled creation. They call for our love in return. Our love shows itself in trust, obedience and passionate commitment to our covenant Lord. The Lausanne Covenant defined evangelization as ‘the whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’. That is still our passion. So we renew that covenant by affirming again:

  • Our love for the whole gospel,as God’s glorious good news in Christ, for every dimension of his creation, for it has all been ravaged by sin and evil;

  • Our love for the whole Church,as God’s people, redeemed by Christ from every nation on earth and every age of history, to share God’s mission in this age and glorify him for ever in the age to come;

  • Our love for the whole world,so far from God but so close to his heart, the world that God so loved that he gave his only Son for its salvation.

In the grip of that three-fold love, we commit ourselves afresh to be the whole Church, to believe, obey, and share the whole gospel, and to go to the whole world to make disciples of all nations.