Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Church in 2050

Sociologist Philip Jenkins has written two books on the changing worldwide face of the Church -- his main thesis is that the nexus of church vitality has moved from the global north (Europe and North America) to the global south (South America, southern Africa, and south Asia). At Cornerstone, Professor Jon Case taught on challenges the church faces in light of this.

a) Although the spiritual vitality is in the south, the resources (money being the most important one) are in the north. Will we be able to support these growing works financially without the paternalism that so often comes with money -- growing churches in the global south don't need our programs, leadership, or ideas. They just need our money!

b) God's movements in the south challenge established denominations in the north. For one thing, these churches tend to be much more theologically conservative than established churches in Europe and North America. This will continue to strain denominations that have adopted moderate/liberal theology. Case reported that some individual Episcopal churches in the US have removed themselves from under American authority and placed themselves under (more conservative) Nigerian bishops.

c) The north will become a mission field -- how will American and European Christians respond when they see this happening?

d) Growth in the global south is largely a charismatic phenomen, including movements within traditionally non-charismatic denominations. Relationships between charismatics and non-charismatics (both individuals and churches) must become more loving and accepting for the southern church to reach its potential. As Case said, "It's a hundred-year-old debate. At this point, both sides need to get over themselves!"


Cami said...

So, good, Prof. For one, I am glad some Episcopals are moving under more conservative headship! For another, I do feel like a missionary here in the States toward the current, organized religious thinking--where has the pure love and trust that only comes by the Holy Spirit to individual hearts? This is what blesses the collective, and creates real fellowship. Not all, of course, but many assemblies are so far from real Christianity in their thinking, even though they are fully aware that it is politically incorrect to dub themselves religious; that's merely what they are. I'm so glad when I hear that the Spirit is having His way somewhere on the globe!

I.I. said...

We may be moving into a whole new world -- in the good way.