In 2007, CT and our sister magazines will be tackling a new "big question" with the Christian Vision Project, our ongoing series exploring major issues facing the church in the 21st century. In 2006, we focused on the church and culture. Now we turn our attention to mission and to the question, What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world? Chris Wright is the international director of Langham Partnership, known in the U.S. as John Stott Ministries. Founded to equip and train pastors and leaders in the majority world, the organization provides Wright with a front-row seat to the extraordinary changes taking place in global Christianity. His most recent book, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative (InterVarsity, 2006), is a tour de force of biblical scholarship and mission theology. Here he argues that much of our learning, and unlearning, will be a rediscovery of Christianity's beginnings.
The map of global Christianity that our grandparents knew has been turned upside down. At the start of the 20th century, only ten percent of the world's Christians lived in the continents of the south and east. Ninety percent lived in North America and Europe, along with Australia and New Zealand. But at the start of the 21st century, at least 70 percent of the world's Christians live in the non-Western worldmore appropriately called the majority world.
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. Ten times more Assemblies of God members ...1