The Global Church: Growing and Changing
This year is the 200th anniversary of Adoniram Judson leaving England for India (and later Burma) as a missionary. A lot has changed since then.
Researcher Steve Addison reports that in 1800 22.7% of the world self-identified as Christian. Today, 33% of the world does. More than 53% of the world is either Christian or Muslim, a figure that is likely to rise much higher by 2100 (some say to 2/3).
The Church looks a lot different today than it did in 1800. Two hundred years ago most Christians lived in Europe, today the epienter of the faith is in Africa and Asia. The number of Christians in China has grown exponentially in China over the last 200 years. Yet, the house church was unknown in the days of the early missionaries. Most missionaries were trying to reproduce the European form of church: organ, choirs, Western songs, dress, etc. The church would not have spread had it been limited to that form.
I believe faith in Jesus will keep growing across the world in the years to come, but we might not always recognize the forms the church will take. In fact, the Church is undergoing rapid transformation before our eyes, No longer is there a single established form. Today we see God working through cell churches, house churches, megachurches, missional churches, and more.
Let’s keep following Jesus, not our forms, and allow the Spirit to blow through our traditions as He will.