EDITORIAL: To reach the majority, we must decrease
As we prepared to showcase the changing face of the church in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Latin America, we grappled with the best way to describe these vast and varied regions. Our goal: To give readers a firsthand look at Churches of Christ in the parts of the world where they are growing fastest.
In the two and a half years since we launched the series, we have encountered another term to describe these regions — the Majority World. Today the vast majority of the world’s people — God’s children — call these places home.
We count it as providential that God has placed his fastest-growing churches in areas where they can serve the most souls.
Reporting this series has taken us to 20 countries on five continents. We interviewed Christians in an indigenous, mountaintop village in Ecuador, on a crowded train during a 30-hour journey from New Delhi to Vijayawada, India, in a monstrous shopping mall in Singapore and under a thatch roof in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.
We also found inspiring stories in Europe and the U.S. From Amsterdam to Minnesota, immigration from the Global South is transforming Churches of Christ.
Why has the Gospel taken firm root among the people of the Global South? Many of them see faith as a real, almost tangible thing — something they cling to despite hardship. When the poorest of the poor ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” it is a very real request.
Among the disenfranchised, those cast out from society and declared untouchable, there is hope. In Christ they find a Savior who truly cares.
In the First World, the developed world, we are tempted to dismiss this faith as something born out of desperation — embraced with the hope of aid from wealthy Christians and forsaken when bellies are filled.
Time and again we encountered believers who didn’t seek dollars, who recognized the destructive power of money in their midst. We met Christians in Asia and Africa who had earned great material wealth and chose to spend it on efforts to reach lost souls on their continents.
All of us must realize that we are linked together in joint poverty. We all are imperfect, sinful creatures, estranged from the divine. Realizing our common condition, we must work together as equal partners.
In the past century, Churches of Christ in the Global North helped to birth countless churches in the Global South. Now these northern churches must learn to be what Dan Bouchelle of Missions Resource Network calls “spiritual grandparents,” providing support and guidance while following their grown children’s lead in reaching and nurturing future generations of Christ-seekers.
To be equal partners, Bryan Gibbs, a trainer of Brazilian missionaries for Continent of Great Cities, says that we all must adopt the attitude of John the Baptist toward Jesus, recorded in John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
May God bless us with wisdom, understanding, patience and our daily bread as we walk together, making disciples of all nations.
FeedbackMaybe if we started teaching people about Christ and not the institution of the church of Christ, we would become relevant to the world we live in.David BendicksonAdventure CommunityDavenport, Iowa
Scott CountyDecember, 2 2011Amen! Could it be that the churches of Christ in other countries are growing faster than the church here in the USA is due to their evangelistic methods no longer popular here in the USA such as door-knocking or house to house? In the future are they going to be sending missionaries to the USA to evangelize us? Just wondering.Terri TempleBA C/CNLV, NV
USANovember, 26 2011