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December 10, 2003

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What do you think?

Well in terms of South America, Argentina to be exact. My best friend reports that he found them to be more divisive/sectarian than Americans.
i.e. members of similar denominations look down at own another (like my friend saw Argentine Assembly of God, looking down at the Foursaquare church etc. The only thing they have in common is not liking the Catholics. Besdies that point, Stan found that the Assembly of God he attended he attended (where his girl friend at the time was a member of) was really "stuck in the 1950s". Quite literally they were living the "big Band era as far as their worship. Lots of brass and orchestra music. A few solos, and little (maybe none actually) congreagational singing. In general Stan found them in all their social trends (i.e.- like the pop music playing on the radio). To actually be about two decades behing the US. So anyway, I wouldnt see them as leading the cause of pomo Christianity.

Actually I think in the days ahead China and Korea may play a greater role. But part of that is largely due to Europe which for the most part is sliding into apostasy (by all surveys of church attendance and what people actually believe. Which is often a form of humanism with a Christian veneer).


My experience and study concur with these trends...but as far as implications are concerned, I need to think about it a little. I will tell you this: in the little corner of Europe where I live, South American missionaries, who make up over 80% of the Protestant leadership here, are being increasingly viewed with suspicion and even disdain by the churched and unchurched alike.

Yeah, all of this sounds right. I went to a youth pastor's network meeting yesterday for the southern california area. It was an amazing group of racially diverse people. I think globalization will have a greater affect on our faith than many christians now realize.

Here's what I think it really means:

The peculiar mixture of faith, philosophy and culture known as a charasmatic protestant church is quite popular with people in South America and Africa.

Any deeper conclusion than that would be very dangerous, because there are so many factors, and some of those factors are hidden in mystery.

I can't say for sure what will happen in North America -- i'm guessing that the culture will become gradually more and more anti-christian. I'm not alarmed at that, the living and active Word of God is not something which can be extinguished by political, religious or cultural oppresion. We are facing a challenge in figuring out what it means to be a Christian when you have to fight more for the space for worship, but I think that fight can only strengthen the Church in North America.

The Kingdom of God was never a numbers game, but when you are winning the numbers game, it is hard to remember that. As the North American church sinks slowly into the west, the parts of scripture which speak about the place reserved for the least will suddenly come alive in ways that it never has.

Does this mean that God has given up on North America, or is somehow now hindered in "reaching the lost" -- I think that there are plenty of stories in both testaments of what God can do with a few faithful people.

Great comments, Michael, particularly about how "the parts of scripture which speak about the place reserved for the least will suddenly come alive in ways that it never has." Perhaps those of us who lead churches would do well to begin emphasizing those passages in preparation for what's coming.

Of course, the result could be that the decline of the North American church becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy...

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