Friday, May 4, 2007

From the Center to the Edge...

“…The map of global Christianity that our grandparents knew has been turned upside-down. At the start of the 20th century, only ten percent of the world's Christians lived in the continents of the south and east. Ninety percent lived in North America and Europe, along with Australia and New Zealand. But at the start of the 21st century, at least 70 percent of the world's Christians live in the non-Western world—more appropriately called the majority world.

More Christians worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Britain, Europe, and North America combined. There are more Baptists in Congo than in Britain. More people in church every Sunday in communist China than in all of Western Europe. Ten times more Assemblies of God members in Latin America than in the U.S.

The old peripheries are now the center. The old centers are now on the periphery. Philip Jenkins brought this shift to popular attention in The Next Christendom. Yet many Christian leaders of the global South resent the implication in Jenkins's title. They have no desire to be another "Christendom"—wielding monolithic territorial and political power. Nor do they wish to be any kind of threat to the West, but rather to help Western Christians in the struggle to shift from survival mode to mission mode—in their own lands….”

Christopher J.H. Wright is the international director of Langham Partnership known in the U.S. as John Stott Ministries.