Right now I am in the middle of a literature review related to the Global Church, the ongoing Mission of God, and the observable trends around the church. Giving you the following bullet list doesn’t necessarily do these materials justice. So if you’re really interested, let me know and I’ll send you a longer treatment of the material later.
Having said that, here are some observations from Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. NB: When speaking of the Global South, we mean the churches of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- At the beginning of the 20th century, two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. Today that figure is about 25%. By 2025, it will fall below 20%.
- Comparing continent-to-continent, Christians in North America are outnumbered by Christians in Africa, Asia, Latin America, or Europe.
- By 2050, Christians in North America will be outnumbered by Christians in:
Africa by 3:1
Asia by almost 1.8:1
Latin America by 2:1
Europe by 1.6:1
- The forecast is that there will be 3.2 billion Christians in the world by 2050. About 20% will be non-Hispanic Whites.
- One day “[t]he phrase ‘a white Christian’ may sound like a curious oxymoron, as mildly surprising as ‘a Swedish Buddhist.’”
- The theology of the Global South is solidly traditionalist, orthodox, and supernatural.
- The American churches in the sharpest decline are those that are the most liberal and compromising.
- It would be difficult to convince a Christian in the Global South that a traditional, orthodox Christianity is dying. Worldwide, it is the norm of the churches that are growing. Instead their problems are more around finding worship spaces large enough to accommodate the numbers of new believers.
- Most of those new believers are teenagers and young adults (that means growing, vibrant churches).
- A hundred years ago, the charismatic/Pentecostal movement (which find roots in the Methodist movement) was a fledging movement. By 2050, their number is likely to cross 1 billion. That will more than the number of Hindus worldwide and twice as many as Buddhists.
So, that’s a small preview. What does this tell me? It affirms my feeling that the North American church MUST pay attention to what God is doing around the world. We have much to learn. May prayer is that we will be faithful to pay attention now and for the movements yet to come.
For more, see: Jenkins, Philip. Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity: Oxford University Press, 2011.