According to Christopher J. H. Wright, in his article, ‘An Upside Down World,’ there is a continental shift in the population of Christians in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to the Southern continents and the East. At the beginning of the twentieth century, only 10 percent of the world’s Christians lived in the East and Southern continents. However, today at least 70 percent of the world’s Christians live in the non-Western world. Christopher Wright wrote, ‘More Christians worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Britain, Europe and North America combined. There are more Baptists in Congo than in Britain; more people in church every Sunday in communist China than in all of Western Europe, and ten times more Assemblies of God members in Latin America than in the United States.”Why this shift? What are the causes for such a dramatic change in the Christian demography? I am not an expert in Missiology or in Church growth. However I would like to suggest the following reasons for this phenomenon. Is it possible that Christendom in the West has waned in their zeal for missions and somehow become distracted with the mundane issues of the day?
Have they become like the Laodicean church which earned the rebuke of our Savior, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15, 16). Have the Western Christians become inward looking rather than outward looking in their missionary vision? Have they become like the myopic Jonah, and thus lost their vision for the salvation of the world? God had to remind him that in his zeal for the ‘faith of the fathers’ he had left off the ‘heart of compassion and mercy” far behind.
Last but not least, is it possible that many of our Western Christians may have fallen into the state of weariness in well-doing? Instead of persevering on they may have gotten ‘tired’ of the routine work of ministering and spreading the gospel to the lost. Let us take heed lest we fall into the pitfalls that our Western brethren have gotten into. May the Lord have mercy upon us and renew our vision and rekindle the ‘fire’ for missions in our midst. Let us keep burning for the Lord. Amen.
Rev. Mark Tay