As the kingdom of God is growing and the gospel is expanding across the world it is important that we continually look at what we are doing and why we are doing it. For centuries the “western” world, particularly Europe, has been viewed as the crucible of the church. However this has changed dramatically during the course of the 20th Century bringing with it a more than western future for the church and therefore global mission. Here are 6 thoughts on how we respond to this major shift.
1. Accept that it is a more than western future ahead – Instead of retreating into post-colonial defense mechanisms we should rejoice that the gospel is bearing fruit all over the world. Countless numbers of people risked all for the glory of God to be seen in these nations; the unnamed that the world was not worthy of (Heb 11:38). Grasping on desperately to the myth that “west is best” is false on two counts. Firstly it is not true. Every culture has it’s baggage which is not good or helpful. Secondly, this attitude is dishonoring to God and the way which he is growing his kingdom throughout the world.
2. Rejoice that God is growing indigenous churches – Jesus did say that he would build his church and that nothing could stop this from happening (Matt 16:18). Does it not fill you with joy to see that the Lord is doing what he said he would. He is being shown as faithful in an unfaithful world. Many people groups who did not know the name of Jesus even 150 years ago have had the opportunity to hear the good news. This does not mean that indigenous churches are perfect and that there are no difficulties; far from it. What it does mean however is that there are more people who have been redeemed to the glory of God’s name. This means that they are now able to tell others in their own nation about the Lord Jesus.
3. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers – Even though the 20th Century has seen exponential growth of the good news across the world, there are still many people who have not heard. There is great need for pioneers, for church planters, for people who will work to the glory of God in an overseas context. Jesus tells us that we are to ask God for new workers so that they will be sent into the world to bring in a harvest (Matt 9:37). Do we ask the Father to send Christians from East Asia to Latin America? From Europe to Northern Africa? From America to Central Asia? From Africa , Asia and Latin America to Europe? Pray with urgency for workers who God will use strategically, in the way only he could, to be the means through which unreached people groups would come to hear the good news.
4. Recognise our privileged and strategic position – One thing which the vast majority of churches in Europe and North America have in common is material wealth. Sadly however very little of this abundance is given to the global mission of God. A more than western future does not allow us the opportunity to take a back seat and say that we have done our bit. We have a crucial role to fulfill! God has blessed us with economic resources and a rich theological heritage and it is vital that we use these gifts wisely so that the unreached billions have the opportunity to hear of Jesus Christ. God willing through these simple gifts that we can offer many will be discipled in such a way that indigenous people can take on the leadership of God’s work.
5. Learn more about the global church – There are a great wealth of resources which we can access at the click of a button, yet often we know very little about the global church. This in its self is a sad indicator of a clear social problem of our knowledge rich societies. Our increased ability to access knowledge has simultaneously led to a cheapening of this information with an inevitable decrease in demand. Unlike many generations of God’s people who have gone before us we have access to vast quantities of information which can better shape our prayer. So how do we use it, if we use it at all? Lets learn more about the global church.
6. Enter into meaningful gospel partnerships – If the two thirds, majority world is going to overtake Europe and North America as the main hub of the church then it would be wise to partner in the gospel with those who are family in the Lord. Being partners and sharing resources, encouragement, people etc…. will be one of the greatest testimonies to the on looking world of the kingdom of God. Here is a kingdom which does not worry about borders or racial background but a community united in bringing the good news of Jesus’ salvation from sin, to all peoples everywhere. Partnership in the gospel is key!