Now for the bad news …

World mission strategists connected with the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization have prepared a long-range planning report that presents a fascinating snapshot of world Christianity and trends for the future.

It says some 16,400 people a day are converting to Christianity in Africa, or nearly 6 million per year. In East Asia and South Asia, churches are gaining 360,000 and 447,000 new members a year respectively. Although the Chinese government has officially approved only several hundred churches in that country, there might be between 25 and 50 million believers meeting in hundreds of thousands of house churches throughout China.

In the West, by contrast, the picture is dismal. The churches of Europe and North America together are losing 2.8 million people a year to nominalism and unbelief, and that number more than offsets the growth of evangelical churches on the two continents. The report says greater emphasis must be given to reevangelization of the West.

The Lausanne committee report made these further points:

• About one billion people throughout the world consider themselves Christians but are only nominally so. There are enough evangelicals throughout the world to evangelize these people, but one hindrance is the tendency of many Western evangelicals to emphasize salvation without preaching the necessity of a new life in Christ.

• The Westernizing and modernizing trends of the world are rapidly moving Christians away from commitment to prayer and meditation upon the person of Christ.

• The trend toward secularization in the West will continue, and that will lead many to promote secular answers, such as Marxism, to the world’s problems. “An ever-increasing pluralism will make an appeal to ...

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