The Emerging Missions Trajectory

The Emerging Missions Trajectory

There has been an explosive growth of the Christian populations in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the South Pacific.  Consider the following graph compiled by data from the United Nations, the World Christian Database (from Gordon-Conwell Seminary), and various other mission researchers. In light of the growth of the global church the next step of health from these churches is missionary sending.

Some Statistical Estimations on the Growth and Shift of Global Christianity:

YEAR

1800
1900
1950
1980
2000
2025 (projections)

% of Christians Who Don’t Live in the West (North America or W. Europe)
1%
9%
32%
50%
60%
65-70%

Why the Dramatic Change?

Popular religious historian, Philip Jenkins, writes that lower birth rates in Western and European countries combined with a general leveling off of the growth of the church in those regions and a rapid expansion of Christian populations in the Global South and East has shifted the center of Christianity to continents other than Europe and North America. 

Future Impact

This shift, Jenkins says, will change the cultural characteristics of Christian religion in the West to conform to the image of the new Christian leaders.  Jenkins characterizes these changes, saying that the new Christianity will encompass more enthusiastic and spontaneous worship, a more fundamentalist approach to theology, and a belief in the supernatural.  While Jenkins hints that somehow these changes would be a threat to the current Christendom church in the West, they actually sound rather exciting and welcome. Many of the largest churches in Europe these days are pastored by Africans; in Spain and Italy particularly, Romanians lead some of the largest churches. These are exciting trends as Christians from all around the world are taking the gospel message to the ends of the earth.

How do you view the explosive growth of the church in the Global South and East? What impact does this have on the new emerging missions force?

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Jenkins, Philip.  The Next Christendom, 3rd ed.  New York: Oxford, 2011.

Downes, Dr. Donna. Missional Engagement with Contemporary Culture. Fuller Theological Seminary. Pasadena, CA, 2012

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