A press release went out today about my new role with the Lausanne movement — Tom Lin named as new North American IDD. While there are many great opportunities for the future of Lausanne, many people do ask about the relationship of Lausanne to Urbana, among other questions. Here’s some excerpts from a recent interview I did:
Q: Why did you agree to serve as Lausanne IDD for North America?
Tom: Like the InterVarsity student movement and Urbana, I believe the Lausanne movement is a very strategic ministry which influences the future of the global church and connects those who are most passionate for God’s mission around the world. I also believe that North America is a region that still has much to contribute, and I look forward to the opportunity to discern what our best contributions might look like in the future.
Q: How will this role intersect with your positions at InterVarsity/Urbana?
Tom: It intersects quite well, as Lausanne leadership has always had strong overlap with the leadership of Urbana and International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), of which InterVarsity is a member movement. The Lausanne Cape Town Congress was a perfect example of this, as many former Urbana speakers gave plenary talks and Urbana leaders served as consultants in program, operations, drama, etc. Many IFES leaders also continue to serve as IDDs, so I am not alone in experiencing this type of intersection! Finally, Urbana’s experience and perspective on the student generation will be helpful for Lausanne in considering what emerging leaders and the global church might look like in the future.
Q: You have both North American and International mission/evangelism experience. How will that influence your role with Lausanne?
Tom: Indeed, along with my family background and culture being from Taiwan, I hope that it will help! My experiences serving in a missions organization that focuses on North Americans (InterVarsity) as well as my experiences planting new ministries in the majority world (IFES-East Asia) and serving on the Board of one of the largest international agencies (Wycliffe) will hopefully give me a well-rounded perspective of what’s going on in North America in relationship to the rest of the world. It also gives me a keen sense of urgency for the significant amount of work that is to be done in North America, in addition to work to be done outside North America.
Q: What are the major issues facing the church in North America with regard to mission and evangelization?
Tom: There is much to be said here and many challenging issues ahead. I’ll start with one on a long list: a growing diversity in the evangelical church. As we know, the North American church is rapidly changing in its ethnic and gender make-up as well its denominational make-up. This, along with a new generation of leaders in the church, is significantly impacting the way we engage in mission and the way we think about evangelization. The North American church will need to embrace these future realities, or it will see greater fragmentation and ineffectiveness in mission.
Q: Are you encouraged or discouraged by what you’re seeing in the North American church and in the lives of Christians? Why?
Tom: While there certainly are many reasons for discouragement and concern, I’m actually overall quite encouraged and hopeful about the future of the North American church. I have hope because of what we’re seeing in this student generation. For example, in the past 5 years, InterVarsity has seen more first-time decisions made for Christ than in any other 5-year period in our 70-year history. We’ve also seen more students engaged in cross-cultural missions projects than in any other period in our history. There are thousands of gifted evangelists in North America who are graduating from universities every year, and the future looks bright because of what I believe God can and will do through this generation.
One of the privileges in leading InterVarsity Missions is hearing reports about students reaching fellow students around the world. One of our sister movements in Great Britain, UCCF, is sponsoring mission weeks in 22 universities across Great Britain this month, engaging university students to think about contemporary issues in relation to God, the claims of Jesus, and their own lives. Click here to see the launch at Oxford University and a playlist of different videos of mission week activities. Enjoy!
Truth - North Korean Testimony | The Lausanne Global Conversation. INSPIRING! This testimony from an 18-year old North Korean student was by far my favorite testimony in Cape Town, one of only two speakers to receive standing ovations. It’s moving and inspiring (and very challenging). I’ve dedicated the last 15+ years of my life towards developing students, believing that students indeed are tomorrow’s future leaders and greatly impact the world we live in for Christ. This testimony gives confirmation of that, and gives us hope for the future, doesn’t it?
Thought you might enjoy videos from our International Students Ministry and undergrad chapter at Drake University. Student leaders created them. Check it out!
“Tom, thank you for leading us pastors. It was a treat to study the Bible every morning.” “I have never studied the Bible like this before. How can I bring this back to my church?” It was a joy for me to spend the Urbana Missions Convention teaching inductive Bible Study in John 1-4 with 200 pastors in the Pastors & Church Leaders Track. During the last morning, I challenged the group to respond to God’s call to a new cross-cultural mission (long-term commitment) by standing… over 70 pastors stood! Other highlights from Urbana include:
300-400 students made 1st-time professions of faith (yes, non-Christians do come to Urbana!)… $900,000 offering toward global missions and the poor in our local communities… 2,676 students committing to “join in God’s cross-cultural mission long-term” (the highest ever for an Urbana convention)… and 5,043 students committing “I will invite a non-follower of Jesus to study John 1-4 with me.”
**MISSED URBANA? VIDEOS NOW ONLINE!
You can watch the plenary sessions at Urbana. Here are a few recommendations:
• Brenda Salter McNeil – following the Samaritan woman into credible witness to the marginalized
• Oscar Muriu – money, power, and incarnation
• Ruth Padilla DeBorst – powerful stories of God using people on the move around our world
Drama, music, and dance also brought the Word to life. A few you might enjoy:
• Word and Pictures – a blend of theater, spoken word, dance, and images portraying John’s prologue
• At Night – dramatic musical presentation of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus
• The Laundromat – modern-day retelling of the Samaritan woman