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The growing church in the global south

October 9, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

“Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Next March, a team from our church will be joining with a team from First Church of Wethersfield to travel to Peru to minister at a Compassion International site in the town of Barranca. When we discuss missions in our American churches, I think our assumption is that we American Christians need to bring the gospel, as well as tangible ministry work like building houses, digging wells, and sharing resources, to the developing world in order to help them. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that while the church seems to be shrinking in power, influence, and spiritual vitality in America, it is growing exponentially on all fronts in the Global South. The fact is that we may end up learning more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus from our brothers and sisters in Peru than they may learn from us!

A book I have been reading lately is The Kingdom Unleashed by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine (a professor at Central Connecticut State University who attends First Church). This book is an eye-opener for all of us who are too focused on the church in America and ignorant of what God is doing around the world. Just listen to some of these statistics: 

  • In Africa, there were nine million Christians in the year 1900. By 2000, there were 335 million (37 times as many).
  • In Latin America, there were 50,000 Protestants in the year 1900. Today, there are more than 64 million.
  • In Asia, the number of Christians has grown from 101 million in 1970 to 351 million in 2010.
  • In China, an estimated 10,000 people per day become Christians, and it is estimated that in the year 2030, China will have more Christians than any other nation on earth
  • In 1980, 65% of the world’s missionaries were sent out from the Global North. By 2020, it is estimated that 63% of the world’s missionaries will be sent out from the Global South.

Clearly there is something incredible going on in the Global South that most of us in America are completely ignorant about. Over the next couple of months, I hope to use this space to summarize some of the findings and conclusions of Trousdale and Sunshine as to why the church is growing so fast in the Global South while experiencing stagnation or decline in America and Europe. What is keeping us from truly experiencing the kind of spiritual power that our brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia are experiencing? And how do we need to change our perspective or behavior so that we might become the kind of disciples God is calling us to be?


            And if you are interested in seeing firsthand what faith in the Global South looks like, the deadline to apply for the mission trip to Peru is November 11th. Contact me if you are interested.

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