Jul 26, 2009

Third World Affecting our Understanding of Mission

A question to ponder: How has the growth of Christianity in the ‘Third World’ or ‘Majority World’ affected our understanding of missions?

Phillip Jenkins in his book 'The Next Christendom: the coming of global Christianity' says that we are currently living through one of the transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide(1). The center of Christianity is geographically shifting from what we call the north to the south. Traditionally we have looked to Europe and other large western spots for large shows of Christianity. ‘Over the past century, the center of gravity in the Christian world has shifted inexorably southward, to Africa, Asia and Latin America’. (2). The face of Christianity so to speak is shifting from the white man to the colored man. White Christianity may soon be an oxymoron (3). A major point of interest to us is that ‘members of a Southern-dominated church are likely to be amongst the poorer people on the planet, in marked contrast to the older western-dominated world’ (7). So, although the church in the south is exploding with salvations, the people are in terrible need of the basics of life. Missions to these nations may take a turn in which most of the missionary work being done is ‘ministry to the physical body’ of our brothers and sisters. It seems as though the spiritual message is being carried and spread very quickly amongst their own people. Could the main job of the Northern church be to bring physical aid at this point in time? Another point of interest is that the Northern church is in decline in contrast to the Southern Church experiencing expediential growth. This southern church is very supernatural and largely dominated by Pentecostal characteristics. ‘Pentecostal expansion across the Southern Hemisphere has been so astonishing as to justify claims of a new reformation.’ (7). Could it be that this southern church will be the one to bring reformation to the now declining northern church in this last hour of history? Missions, upside down in our time? An opportunity to reconsider how.