John Piper – God’s passion for His glory

chart from http://www.pewforum.org/christian/global-christianity-exec.aspx

John Piper preaches to college students at the Radiate Conference 2009. Before he delves into the message, Piper cites some interesting statistics from Philip Jenkins (Professor of Christian studies at Penn State U.)Mark Noll as to the shift of the spread of christianity to the ‘global south’. The global south refers to the astonishing growth of the christian church in Africa, Latin America and Asia while the formerly dominant christian lands like Europe are fading in their significance. I don’t think God’s done with the old christian lands and I pray some of you will be part of that renewal. Some of the statistics cited:

At the beginning of the 20th century Europeans dominated the world church with approx. 70.6% of the world’s christian population. Yet, by the end of the 20th century, the european percentage of world christianity shrunk to 28%. Latin America and Africa combined provide 43% of the world’s christians.

Statistic from Jenkins:

  • In 1900 Africa had 10 million christians representing about 10% of the population. By 2000, this figure had grown to 360 million, representing about half the population. Quantitatively, this may be the largest shift in religious affiliation that had ever occurred anywhere.

Statistics from Mark Noll’s book ‘The new shape of world christianity’:

  • The number of practicing christians in China may be approaching the number of those in the United States.
  • Live bodies in church are far more numerous in Kenya than in Canada.
  • More believers worship together in church Sunday by Sunday in Nagaland than in Norway.
  • More Christian workers from Brazil are active in cross cultural ministry (outside their homeland) than  from Britain or from Canada.
  • Last Sunday, more christian believers attended church in China than in all the so called christian Europe.
  • Last Sunday, more presbyterians were in church in Ghana than in Scotland.
  • This past week, in Great Britain, at least 15,000 christian foreign missionaries were hard at work evangelizing locals. Most of these missionaries are from Africa and Asia.
  • In a word, the christian church has experienced a larger geographical redistribution in the last 50 years than in any comparable period in its history, with the exception of the very earliest years of church history.

Piper: Now, that is a cause for rejoicing in our great, sovereign God. However, how many believes around the world, especially in the west are drawing mistaken inferences from that truth. They are concluding that the day of western missions- „So, you, leaving here to go there is over”.- And it not only is over, it should be over. You begin to pick this up and you listen around the world that „We don’t need America, we don’t need Canada, we don’t need Europe, because every group is touched and it’s better for the locals to do the evangelizing anyway, because it’s cheaper and culturally more effective. And besides, the west is fading”.

Here’s some counterpoints Piper cites:

The United States is sending out more missionaries than it ever has before. And this does not take into account the explosion American short term mission volunteers, whose number may approach 2 million a year.

But, worse than the approach that the day of western missions is over is the mistake that it should be. That there is some new development, that because of some incredible global presence of christians, that going a long way, like 5 or 10 or 15,000 miles and having to spend 60, 70, or 80,000 dollars to get you and your family there, then learn a different language, then learn a different culture is somehow over is based on a misapprehension of the dynamic of the situation.

When you talk about unreached peoples being evangelized by the locals, there aren’t any locals! That’s the meaning of unreached. There are cultural, linguistic, historic  identities to this people group  and those who live 50 or 100 miles away don’t share those languages, they don’t share those cultures, and in fact, there may be historic animosity between these 2 local people groups that would make it way better in Africa for a Filipino to come, or a Canadian, or an American or a Scot to come than from somebody 50 miles away. It isn’t that simple. So, don’t you make that mistake, don’t you listen to those statistics and say, „Oh, it’s very expensive to send somebody. They (locals) could do it for $25 a month”. No they can’t, not necessarily. Now, I’m not ruling out that we should partner all over the world with every evangelical effort to reach the unreached peoples of the world and if someone can do it more inexpensive from a local place, and more effectively, God bless them, let’s help them.

But, it’s a huge mistake to think that what’s left to be done in the world  doesn’t need you.

If you would like to study statistics more and also look at some maps and charts, the Pew Forum has an in depth study of christian global patterns here – http://www.pewforum.org/christian/global-christianity-exec.aspx

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