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KLC & WEA: What is Evangelicalism? Project

The Kirby Laing Centre has partnered with the World Evangelical Alliance to explore an important question for today, namely, What is Evangelicalism? 

History of the What is Evangelicalism? Project

Below you will find the initial joint letter from KLC and WEA outlining the beginnings of this project, which included an anonymous survey of the global evangelical community, and a panel discussion that took place on 20 September 2023.

This project will have multiple stages and may include further surveys, research, and online events. We will be sure to keep this page updated as the next stages in the process of exploring this question develop.

Dear All,

What is Evangelicalism?

Evangelicalism is a global movement facing challenges on many fronts. Some of these challenges are political in nature, some social, some theological. The differing concerns across the globe have led to a fracturing in particular regions around the world.

To better understand these fractures and to help unify the global community to face the challenges ahead, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge (KLC) have partnered together to explore and begin a conversation about what “evangelical” means for the twenty-first century. You can learn more about the WEA here: https://worldea.org/ and about KLC here: https://kirbylaingcentre.co.uk

The first step in the conversation is to hear from the global evangelical community about their perspective on the current state of evangelicalism. If you have just 5 or 10 minutes, please consider taking the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/evangelicalism. We’d love to hear from you. You are also most welcome to share it with friends and colleagues. 

Please note that the survey is entirely voluntary and anonymous. The data compiled will be held by KLC, and we will begin reporting back on it through the second step in this conversation, which will be a public event hosted by KLC on 20 September 2023, 5:30PM – 7:00PM UK time. To learn more and to register to attend this online discussion head over to: https://kirbylaingcentre.co.uk/events/#evangelicalism. This Zoom event will consist of a panel discussion of the initial results of the survey and will comprise members of KLC and WEA, including: Professor Darrell Bock (Chair, KLC), Rev Dr Craig Bartholomew (KLC), Dr Bruce Ashford (KLC), Dr Peirong Lin (WEA), and Mr. Rei Lemuel Crizaldo (WEA). The data from the survey will be used for ongoing exploration of the nature of Evangelicalism by KLC and WEA.

Take the survey, and register for the event.


Rev. Dr. Craig G. Bartholomew, Director KLC, and Dr. Theresa Lua, Director, Global Theology, and Bishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General and CEO, WEA.

First Introductory Panel Discussion on What is Evangelicalism?

In September 2023 the World Evangelical Alliance partnered with the Kirby Laing Centre to begin an exploration and conversation about the question: What is Evangelicalism?

This video is the recording of the first introductory panel discussion with representatives from both organisations including, Peirong Lin, Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, Brian Stiller, Darrell Bock, and Craig Bartholomew.

In this introductory discussion, the conversation revolved around the challenges of defining “evangelicalism” in the current context. There’s a need to understand and articulate what it means to be an evangelical in a diverse and changing world. It also highlighted the global nature of evangelicalism and how its definition and perception vary across different regions. Evangelicalism is not confined to the Western world and has a significant and growing presence in Africa, Asia, and South America. There was an acknowledgement that the term “evangelical” has faced negative perceptions in some regions, and it has become associated with political and cultural movements that may not reflect its core values. The various challenges facing evangelicalism, both from within and without, are complex and require rigorous and thoughtful responses. Participants emphasised the need to find a way to effectively outline and define the core values of evangelicalism, address the challenges, and then effectively communicate, unify and better represent the values of global evangelicalism.

As the participants stress in the discussion, this is just the first of many conversations as part of this exploration, which includes, as Dr Bock mentions, an initial survey already done, the results of which are forthcoming. We will continue over the coming months to do more surveys, consultations, panel discussions and events as we attempt to rigorously consider the question, What is Evangelicalism? If you wish to be kept up to date with this project, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Second Panel Discussion on What is Evangelicalism?

This video is the recording of the second panel discussion, which took place on 31 January 2024. It features representatives from KLC and the WEA, including Peirong Lin, Sam Chang, Obi Master, Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, Brian Stiller, Bruce Ashford, Darrell Bock, and Craig Bartholomew.

The first discussion revolved around the challenges of defining “evangelicalism” in the current context. In this installment of the series, our panellists discuss why the definition of evangelicalism is so important, and they engage with the question, “Should we distinguish evangelicalism as it is theologically defined here from any other forms of evangelicalism abroad in the world today?” Of particular interest is the strong media attention given to the politicisation of evangelicalism in America and its influence on the wider movement. Should world evangelicalism be doing a better job of reclaiming the name evangelical for the theologically oriented global movement?