Christianity has undergone historic demographic and cultural shifts. In the Global South, Christianity is ‘growing both qualitatively and quantitatively at a phenomenal pace in comparison to Global North Christianity,’ as stated in ‘Perspectives from Global South Christianity: Ghana, Brazil, East Asia, and the global church’ by Philip Lutterodt, Joabe G Cavalcanti, and Loun Ling Lee. In this age of world Christianity, these changes bring diversity as well as tensions within global missions. For Christian witness to be credible, there must be a stronger interconnectedness across regions, cultures, and generations through deeper engagement with and learning from each other. ‘This article examines some essential characteristics and practices of Christianity in Ghana, Brazil, and East Asia,’ and recommends a way forward into the future of missions, with the hope of initiating a meaningful dialogue between leaders of Global North and South.
The global church has to manage not only tensions within due to differences in geography and culture, but also the tensions between the state—‘the governing authority’—and the church—‘the authority of Christ.’ How should Christians respond when caught under circumstances of conflict? In ‘Governments and the Great Commission: Should we obey?’ CJ Davison, Paul Lewis, and Dave Benson propose a framework derived from Scripture, traditions, and contemporary experiences. It consists of four basic responses—to declare truth, to disobey, to desert, and to obey passively. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we decide on a course of action, bearing in mind that ‘our primary purpose is to shine like Christ’.
From another part of the world, we learn lessons on the relationship between church and state where ‘the church has at times transformed or conformed to the policies of civil government.’ Simon Jooste reflects on this relationship from the context of post-apartheid South Africa, as well as the current growing political liberalism in South Africa. In his article ‘“Apartheid” of Church and State: Pilgrim politics for dual citizens’, he challenges Christians to ‘re-evaluate the public role of the church.’ Affirming ‘Christ’s rule over all of life casts Christians as dual citizens: at once governed by the cruciform polity of Christ’s church while making common culture with unbelievers under the proportionate justice rule of civil government’. The calling of the church is to ‘safeguard the gospel and the church’s Great Commission, while freeing Christians to make a provisional difference in society as a realisation of the Great Commandment to love.’
A disconnect between the older and younger generations has led to problems in leadership transition in many churches. Victor Lee imputes this to ‘a lack of engagement with young people in church ministry.’ In ‘Engaging Younger Generations in Church Ministry: Disconnects and approaches for passing the baton’, he writes, ‘There is an urgent need to evangelise and disciple young people as well as to involve younger generations in leadership conversations.’ Based on data from a global survey conducted by the Barna Group and World Vision, and his own observations in his local context, he analyses three disconnects between the generations due to differences in expectations, differences in value system, and differences in language. For a possible solution to each issue, he proposes an approach similar to overcoming intercultural differences. We also learn from a powerful model of a pastor who ‘has established a ministry that is known for its engagement with younger ministers.’
May we connect with someone from a different region, culture, or generation today.
Lausanne Global Analysis is also available in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Korean. Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue will be released in March 2023.
Loun Ling Lee serves as the editor of Lausanne Global Analysis. Her previous roles include lecturer in mission at Redcliffe College (UK), training director of AsiaCMS based in Malaysia, mission mobiliser with OMF, and pastor at Grace Singapore Chinese Church.