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The term “Western Christianity” doesn’t quite encompass all it should. By “Western Christianity” I mean the Christianity of Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia. These are areas dominated by Europeans and their descendents. In these regions, the gears of Christianity have shifted into reverse.
This is not the case in the rest of the world. The kingdom is exploding in the Southern latitudes. Adherents in Africa, Asia and South America are quickly outnumbering their European spiritual siblings. It may be long after I am gone, but I worry that the same malaise that afflicts the Western church will, in time, infect the kingdom there as well.
I say this because in too many cases we missionaries have recreated a “Western” manifestation of Christianity duly adopted by non-Western churches. Yes, they look good now, but what happens when their nations eventually and inevitably possess the material wealth and secular education and outlook of their former missionaries’ homelands? The time to think about this is now.
How does the kingdom flourish in a secular, materialistic culture? That’s the question we must answer right now in the West for the sake of the kingdom here and in the two-thirds world. We must ask that question because Western Christianity is not flourishing now. It’s fading. Does that bother you like it does me?
It seems to me we have three choices: (1) we can ignore the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist, (2) we can keep insanely applying the same old ineffective measures or, (3) we can back off, take a hard look at what Jesus told us to do and just do it.
Of course, number three is my choice. Why don’t we take an honest look at what we are doing (or not doing) now and answer the question, “Are we really doing what Jesus told us to do?” It seems to me that we are so involved in peripheral matters that we have neglected (or just ignored) the core matters.
If Jesus or Peter or Paul suddenly made a surprise visit to survey the followers of Christ today, what would they think about our professional staffs, buildings, schools and all the other tangential things on which we concentrate? And all this while the people around us are separate from Christ, strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope, without God and continually straying like sheep? Be honest now!
Am I on the right track here? Let me know what you think.