Warren | The Global Transformation of Christianity Is Here

Of note, similar trend as in Canada:

A few months ago, I went to a worship service that, in many ways, was like a thousand evangelical services I’d seen before. People raised their hands while singing and cried out “Glory to God!” and “Amen.” People stood and gave “testimony,” telling stories of finding hope or healing from pain. They read Bible verses and prayed prayers. There was a clear difference, however, from most worship services I’ve attended: Nearly everyone in the room was an immigrant and a person of color. We sang in English but also in Spanish, Portuguese, Igbo and Nepali.

I was at a meeting of the Greater Austin Diaspora Network, a coalition that brings together immigrant leaders representing about 40 churches in the Austin area. They estimate that there are over 150 such churches around Austin.

“The face of Christianity is undergoing a fundamental transformation,” Sam George, the director of the Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College, told me. “What is happening in America is just a part of a larger transformation because Christianity is getting a new face. It is getting more Black and brown and yellow.”

The last century has seen a near-complete reversal of the global demographics of Christianity. Currently, the fastest growing Christian communities are in the “majority world” — the term I use for non-Western countries that make up most of the world’s population.

In his book “The Unexpected Christian Century,” Scott Sunquist notes that in 1900, about 80 percent of the world’s Christian population lived in the Western world and about 20 percent in the majority world. By 2000, only 37 percent lived in the Western world, and nearly two-thirds lived in the majority world. Sub-Saharan Africa had the most striking growth of Christianity, growing from around 9 percent Christian at the beginning of the 20th century to almost 45 percent at the end of it. There are around 685 million Christians in Africa now.

“Christianity at the beginning of the 21st century,” said George, “is the most global and most diverse and the most dispersed faith.”

In Africa, Latin America and Asia, Christianity is growing in historic denominations, such as Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, but the most explosive growth has been in Indigenous, independent Pentecostal churches. Sunquist argues that in addition to Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, we ought to start talking about a new family of “spiritual” churches that have no historical ties to Western church traditions. These “spiritual” churches are largely not a result of colonial missions. In fact, the meteoric rise of Christianity in the majority world occurred only after the withdrawal of colonial powers when Christianity became more indigenized.

In popular religious discourse in the West, we tend to associate Christianity with white Westerners and European influence. At this point, our assumptions about this need to change. The largest church congregation in the world belongs to Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, an Assemblies of God church, which has around 480,000 members. Statistics vary but even conservative estimates guess there were around 98 million evangelical Christians globallyin 1970. Now, there are over 342 million.

In my own tradition of Anglicanism, with nearly 60 percent of all Anglicans living in Africa and over 30 percent in Nigeria and Uganda alone, there are most likely more Anglicans in Sunday services in these two countries than in America and England combined. Latin America boasts 14 megachurches with total membership over 20,000. And by some estimates, China will have more Christians than any other country by 2030.

Source: Opinion | The Global Transformation of Christianity Is Here

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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