The world and the Church have changed significantly since the original 1974 Lausanne International Congress for World Evangelization. While overall the majority Christian population has shifted to the global South (commonly considered to be Latin America, Africa, Asia and parts of Oceania), there has also been growth in the Church as a whole. Few know that five of the largest churches in the world are in the United States, China, India, Brazil and Nigeria.
Estimates of the number of Christians living in China range from 40-100 million, while significant growth in the life of the Church is also reported in India, Ethiopia and Nepal. Additionally, remarkable growth, relative to past history, is being experienced by the Church in Tunisia, Algeria and parts of Central Asia. Yet, alongside the reports of encouraging growth and maturation, the Body of Christ is facing increased opposition and outright hostility from Islamic and Hindu fundamentalists. Believers in South Korea, Eritrea and Iran are subjected to overt persecution while Christians in North America and Europe face intensified intellectual hostility.
Dr. Todd Johnson, director of the Center for Global Christianity, recently outlined a number of important trends in world Christianity. Johnson noted that:
- Christianity has shifted dramatically to the South.
- Christianity is fragmented.
- Christians are experiencing unprecedented renewal.
- Christians are experiencing unprecedented suffering.
What does this mean country by country or region by region?
This year, Lausanne World Pulse will offer a series of articles from Lausanne’s twelve International Deputy Directors that will provide a closer look at each region of the world. It is our prayer that these articles will be of service to the Church, as together we gain a new perspective on what God is doing.
Our desire is twofold: (1) to offer encouragement as leaders share their perspectives on Christianity in their region and offer stories of perseverance in the face of extraordinary obstacles and (2) that the articles would serve to educate us about challenges faced by Christian brothers and sisters so that we can pray in a more informed manner and respond in appropriate ways to the needs presented.
By Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, it is our hope that our vision for the world would be expanded—region by region—and that we would have a greater understanding of the uniqueness, giftedness and importance of the entire Body of Christ.
The Lausanne regional focus begins in February with Rev. Daniel Willis’ report on Oceania. In March, Dr. Adrian de Visser will report on South Asia.
Questions about this series may be directed to [email protected].