I haven't posted in about six weeks mainly because I got married in the interim. It's a pretty good excuse, right? Going forward I'm hoping to post more frequent, but brief, insights on God, the Christian faith, life, and how they all fit together.
The first of these hopefully pithy observations is about global demographic shifts in Christianity. If you were looking at a map of the world and had to put a push-pin in the location that represents the hub of global Christianity, where would you put it?
Well, a Roman Catholic would likely choose the Vatican. An Evangelical might well choose somewhere in the "Bible Belt" of the southern USA. Others, looking more to the past (or the future), might choose Jerusalem. However, there is a good case to be made that the hub of global Christianity today is somewhere on the African continent.
An article in the Telegraph from a few years ago pointed out that the number of Christians in Africa has trebled in the past 35 years, a trend that shows no signs of abating. At the same time, church congregations are dwindling (and ageing) in Europe and North America. Many of those who identify as Christians in the West seem to see Christianity as culture rather than conviction. Churches are being sold by the dozen and converted for secular use - even as bars in many cases!
All of this is ironic since it was through missionaries from Europe and North America that Christianity was introduced throughout sub-Saharan Africa in the 19th century.
As I reflect on this monumental shift I can't help but draw a comparison with the transition of Christianity from a Jewish sect in the First Century to a predominantly Gentile movement in the Second Century. Jesus foretold this in Matthew 21:43, when he told the Jewish priests that because they rejected him, "The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits."
Europe (and her North American offspring) were the hub of global Christianity for about 17 centuries. However, even as these peoples began to discard their historic Christian faith, God began to visit Africa and make it the focus of his kingdom's growth.