And what it means for reaching unreached people groups.
It’s Missions Fund season at Summitview. This year, we’re praying for $50,000 to fund eight different missions initiatives that literally span the globe. Learn more and give online at summitview.com/missions.
The heart of Christianity isn’t in North America anymore. The faith is growing, but not here. While the numbers vary slightly according to the source, in 1900, somewhere between 82 and 90 percent of Christians lived in Europe and North America. By 2015, only 35 percent of Christians lived in Europe and North America. And according to 2017 data, the Joshua Project estimates that 23 percent of Christians live in Europe and North America, while 77 percent live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
This is extraordinary, exciting…and if we were honest with ourselves here in the West, maybe a little humbling. A certain amount of humility is required to recognize—and be glad—that the center of the Kingdom on earth is not in the West anymore. We are seeing God’s plan unfolding before us. The future of Christianity is not going to look like its past. Let us rejoice and be glad that the Kingdom of every tribe, tongue and nation is empowered by a Spirit that is willing to shift and move and start new things when the timing in the history of redemption is right.
What’s strange is that this isn’t a new development. It’s not as if one day the center of gravity of the world’s largest religion suddenly shifted south of the equator and east of the prime meridian. Consider these numbers from 2002: 480 million Christians in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, 313 million in Asia—and 260 million in North America.
We can take heart that Jesus is growing his church throughout the world, even if it can feel at a standstill here in America. God’s mission in the world is bigger than our mission here. Let us pray for the grace to accept what work God has for us while rejoicing that millions and millions of believers are being made in every corner of the world.
This edition of the Weekender is here to give you a wider perspective about where the global church is thriving and how we can play a vital part in this story.
“Think Christianity is dying? No, Christianity is shifting dramatically” by Wes Granberg-Michaelson — Washington Post
Synopsis: Feeling down about the rise of the “nones,” those who don’t claim any religious affiliation? A quick glance at the spread of Christianity throughout the Global South could calm your fears.
Representative quote: “Over the past 100 years, Christians grew from less than 10 percent of Africa’s population to its nearly 500 million today. One out of four Christians in the world presently is an Africa, and the Pew Research Center estimates that will grow to 40 percent by 2030.”
Why you should read it: Jesus is building his church and not even the “nones” can stand against him. There’s also some fascinating details about how global migration and immigration is shaping Christianity in America.
“In China, Unregistered Churches Are Driving a Religious Revolution” by Ian Johnson Yang — The Atlantic
Synopsis: This is a moving portrayal of life in an unregistered church in China.
Representative quote: Johnson includes several extended quotes from a pastor at a church in Chengdu, many of which are full of wisdom and hope for the future. But near the beginning of the article, he shows how unregistered churches have “helped the number of Protestants soar from about 1 million when the communists took power to at least 60 million today. Of these believers, about two-thirds are not affiliated with government churches. In other words, Protestants in non-government churches outnumber worshippers in government churches two to one.”
Why you should read it: Because it’s an amazing and inspiring read, and because we are helping send three long-term missionaries to Hong Kong this year and supporting long-term missionaries at a university in East Asia who partner with local churches.
“The Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences” by Mark Howard — The Gospel Coalition
Synopsis: Iran is home to the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Representative quote: “ . . . more Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior.”
Why you should read it: Maybe God wants you to be a missionary to Iran? And to be encouraged by how Jesus is changing the lives of Muslims all across the world—even those who find themselves as refugees in Amsterdam.