One hundred people from 23 countries convened in Nairobi, Kenya for the 8th Lausanne International Researchers’ Conference (LIRC8) from April 30 to May 4, 2018. The Lausanne Movement’s Church Research Track, The Movement of African National Initiatives (MANI), The World Evangelical Alliance’s Community of Mission Information Workers, and the Global Research Team of One Challenge partnered together to organize this conference.

Research that Guides Kingdom Impact

The theme for the gathering was “Research that Guides Kingdom Impact.” Sessions for the gathering focused on the four-fold vision of the Lausanne Movement: the gospel for every person; an evangelical church for every people; Christlike leaders for every church; and kingdom impact in every sphere of society. In addition to the plenary addresses following these themes, Rev. Reuben Ezemadu, the continental coordinator of MANI, developed his four devotional messages around the Lausanne Movement vision. Reuben’s deep biblical insights resonated with many participants.

First Conference in Africa

This conference was the first held in Africa, with 47 participants coming from the continent.

Dr. Peter Brierley, keynote speaker and initiator of the conference in 1986, said: “(This conference) was easily the best we have had thus far, both in terms of numbers, the number of countries represented, and the wonderfully efficient organization that surrounded it.”

Conference Highlights

A new addition to this year’s conference a focused track for younger or emerging researchers. “The track for younger and less-experienced researchers was a highlight,” says Larry Kraft, the Lausanne Catalyst for Church Research. “It created a lot of energy and enabled mentor relationships to begin that have the potential to continue well into the future.” The hope of this focus was to see emerging researchers become better equipped, have a better sense of what they need to do to advance in their unique career path, and become better connected and encouraged.

We prayed that God would cause all pieces to come into place, that participants would have good travel, and that attendees would be fully engaged.  God answered our prayers affirmatively and exceeded our expectations in so many gracious ways. The facility used was very adequate, and we filled 80 of the 81 beds they could provide. We gave financial assistance to 43 of the 100 attendees and still finish the conference 'in the black.'  God even woke a team member up at 2AM to 'open the gates', literally, for a group that needed to depart for the airport but found themselves behind two locked doors.  The Lord's presence and provision were richly evident!

A staple of conferences in the past has been the opportunity for participants to share papers about their own mission research. In total, 31 papers were presented at LIRC8. The majority of the papers and plenary presentations are available here, as well as some papers from previous conferences.

Future Plans

The 9th Lausanne International Researchers’ Conference is tentatively planned for in 2021. During a discussion of the future, significant interest was expressed in exploring the potential of hosting regional research gatherings in between global gatherings.

The Lausanne International Research Network steering committee is inviting new members to guide the activities of the network over the intervening years. Larry Kraft says: “If God should give impetus for a LIRC9, I pray that the ethos our team tried to create (i.e. of nurturing mentoring relationships, of encouraging regional initiatives, of giving value to both theoretical and applied missions research) will become something of a tree under whose shade many will feel comfortable to sit.”

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