The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) recently concluded its highly anticipated Future of the Gospel Forum in Istanbul, a landmark event that brought together 262 participants from 61 nations. The Forum utilized the innovative Commissioned platform to foster robust discussions on critical issues facing the Church today.
During the event, under the broad theme of “emergence,” participants were encouraged to peer into the future ministry of Jesus, the future of the gospel, and how we all are invited into Jesus’ future ministry. From this macro-level perspective, they moved into deeper biblical thinking about creation: (1) caring for self; (2) caring for others who are created in God’s image and bear the weight of God’s glory upon that image, as we dare to bear that weight in caring for them; (3) caring for our surroundings.
The sessions and discussion tracks were designed around the three aspects of caring for all of creation as follows:
(1) Caring for self: Neurotheology; Discipleship; Transformation
(2) Caring for others: Unreached Peoples in the Age of Hybridity; Oral Bible Translation and New Leaders of the Church; Whole-Life Discipleship; Theological Education, Healthy Organizations; Towards 2033
(3) Caring for our surroundings: Global Strategy Forum (with 12 spheres); Creation Care and Sustainability; Influencing Culture
The conversations centered on key challenges that evangelical communities worldwide are confronting. These discussions led to new outcomes and initiatives, underscoring the Forum’s importance in driving positive change within the evangelical movement.
The Forum was built on a strong spiritual foundation, with a powerful opening prayer time on Sunday night and 6:00 a.m. prayers on each of the next four days. The prayer times culminated in a collective prayer for peace in regions facing conflict and strife, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, and Russia.
Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, the WEA’s CEO, emphasized the need for evangelicals to actively engage in discussions about creation, stating, “When everyone wants to talk about creation, we, as ambassadors of the Creator, need to be in the middle of the mess.”
Initial outcomes of the Forum included the following:
- Members of the Whole-Life Discipleship discussion track decided to stay connected in a global discipleship strategy group that will continue to meet virtually.
- A working group was formed to address reshaping the definition of “unreached peoples.”
- Additional training for leaders of national alliances was developed.
- Trajectory development and agenda setting for the 2025 meeting of the International Council on Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE) and the 2025 WEA General Assembly
- Establishment of a health sphere in the WEA’s Global Strategy Forum, which seeks to bring positive Christian influence to all sectors of society
- Coordination of evangelism and celebration planning related to the commemoration of the church’s 2000th birthday in 2033
WEA Global Ambassador Brian Stiller has authored an inspiring commentary on the spirit of the Future of the Gospel Forum, which can be found here.