Code of Conduct for Missions and Evangelism
GLOBAL guidelines for ethical conduct in Christian mission and evangelism were launched on 28 June 2011. The document - Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct - was developed in response to increasing global interreligious tension.
It was also developed to respond to criticisms that some Christians were using unethical methods in conversions, a press statement from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) said. The document is the first of its kind in the history of the Church, and is not a theological statement on missions but is meant to address practical issues of Christian witness in a multi-religious world.
The guidelines were the result of five years of collaboration between the mainline Protestant, Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches. These groups were represented through the World Council of Churches (WCC), the (WEA), and the Vatican's Pontifical Council on Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID). Collectively, the three represent over 90% of the world's total Christian population.
The recommendations cover three parts. The first, "The Basis for Christian Mission", lays out biblical foundations for mission. Jesus Christ is the example to follow when witnessing to others. Christians who use deceptive and coercive means "betray the gospel and may cause suffering to others", the guidelines state. Conversion is acknowledged as ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit.
The second section deals with "Principles" of ethical conduct in missions. This includes refraining from exploiting poverty situations and using incentives in conversions. The freedom of religion and belief - including the right to profess, practice, propogate and change one's religion - are recognized as part of being created in the likeness and image of God. Christians are thus to denounce religious persecution and the use of religion for political ends.
Inter-religious cooperation is another key principle. This includes mutual respect and solidarity in working with other faiths to promote justice, peace and the common good.
The third and final part contains recommendations to all Christians, church bodies, mission organizations and agencies. Christians are urged to formulate guidelines for ethical conduct based on the principles for their respective mission contexts.
The document was launched by representatives of the WEA, WCC and the PCID, at the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
WEA Secretary-General Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe has endorsed the recommendations for all evangelicals, saying, "In some places, dynamic public witness to Jesus Christ has been accompanied by misunderstanding and tension. This document is a valuable resource for church and ministry leaders for reflection and practice on how to best witness in ways faithful to the call of Christ and in line with the life and spirit of Jesus."
The full document can be viewed at http://www.worldevangelicals.org/