Monday, December 3, 2007

My How You Have Grown

On a recent post I mentioned ten paradigms that controlled or described the religious situation in America. Some of those paradigms still have a lot of influence but there is a spiritual wave that has overwhelmingly influenced the religious ideas of almost every Christian group in America as well as the rest of the world.

Paradigm Shift #I. The Holy Spirit has been increasingly poured out on all Christians since the great Jesus People Revivals of the Sixties and Seventies. There have been more and great instances of people coming to Jesus Christ as Savior in the last forty years than ever before in history.

Just think about the revivals in Africa and Asia to say nothing about South America, North America and Europe/Russia. Author and missions researcher Patrick Johnstone, known for his 'Operation World' books, has published a new book under the title "The church is larger than you think", dealing with recent missionary developments:

"From the birds-eye view of history, we can see an incredible pattern in God's missionary action over the last 200 years -- in the 18th Century, the focus was on the North Atlantic, in the 19th Century the Pacific, in the 1960s, Africa, in the 1970s it was Latin America, East Asia in the 1980s and Eurasia in the 1990s. The 10/40 Window, particularly Central and Southern Asia and the Middle East are the final great challenges for Christianity, aside from secularized Europe and the Jews."

Johnstone sees evangelicals as the main force behind the growth.

1. Evangelical Christianity has grown slowly but steadily in the West, while the rest of Western Christianity has shrunk significantly;

2. The real growth of Evangelical Christianity in recent years has been in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In 1960, non-Western Evangelicals were around half as numerous as those in the West. In 2000, they were 4 times as many. In 2010, 7 times as numerous.

3. Although Christianity as a whole is growing slightly slower than Islam, Protestant Christianity is expanding faster than Islam at 2.9% per year, almost double the rate of population growth, currently at 1.7%;

4. The Roman Catholic Church is expanding more slowly than the population and means that the percentage of Catholics in the population is decreasing. This is mainly due to the secularization in Europe and the trend to Evangelicalism in Latin America;

5. Protestantism is growing almost twice as fast as the world population, but this is almost entirely due to Evangelicals. Non-Evangelical Protestants are shrinking significantly. Liberal theology is being preached in ever-shrinking churches in increasingly empty church buildings.

6. Evangelical Christianity is expanding more than three times as fast as he world population, and is hence the only religious group in the world with significant growth through conversion, at a rate almost double that of Islam. However, Christians will lose the battle for religious growth unless we produce far more children than we presently do now.

Next time, more on Christian Growth

1 comment:

paula clare said...

Hi Gary,
In my years of study on St. Francis of Assisi, (enroute to becoming an ecumenical about a paradigm shift!) I've discovered that one of the most endearing things about Francis is that he was all about (much like Jesus) getting "religion" out of the hands of the oppressive regimes and putting RELATIONAL SPIRITUALITY into the hands of "whosoever will." I am beyond grateful that I was born at a time (boomers) when the typical hierarchical structure of the Church was changing and being made more "user friendly." Like you, I am glad to be part of a world where change is making possible longer life, deeper spirituality, and greater opportunity for personal growth than ever before!