Wolfgang Simson -
one of the world's forty largest
churches is in the USA
or any other Western nation
The church is starting to see itself completely differently - that is
one trend which is growing stronger. It is no longer understood as a
single organised fellowship (with a pastor, a building, a programme and
a more or less creative name), but as an organic community of
Christians in towns and regions, the sum of the members of related
house churches, cells, groups and fellowships. This gives the church,
as in the times of Acts, a regional instead of
"The church in Corinth", Ephesus, Antioch or Jerusalem corresponds
today to "The church in Berlin", Boulder, Beijing or Brasilia.
Regional house church networks are replacing mega churches. Such
regional churches are not led by a 'Senior Pastor', but by regional
teams, generally formed by the coalescing of the fivefold ministry. It
is very noticeable that the traditional pastoral ministry tends not to
play the key role, but rather people with an apostolic or prophetic
gifting, as hinted at in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 2:20.
Christian community and unity is formed by belonging to the same region
or town; unity is lived out in networked house churches and large
celebrations, or at least in leaders' meetings in places where
Christians are heavily persecuted.
really significant church growth is taking place
basically outside the West
One of the smaller(!) house church networks in southern China has an
attendance of 400,000. Larger networks number several million.
twenty largest regional (not national) house church networks in China,
Vietnam and northern India would completely change the list. For
security reasons, we cannot publish any names or other details, with
the exception of V. Choudhrie in India, because most if not all such
large regional house church networks exist in nations which persecute
or repress Christians. They generally belong to the group which
missiologist Prof. David Barrett calls 'Crypto-Christians' -
underground Christianity. We believe that there are around twenty
regional house church networks around the globe with an attendance of
over 250,000 [each].
Which are today's trend-setting nations?
These developments started outside the West (North America, Europe,
Australia and New Zealand), so many Western pastors and Christian
leaders find it difficult to take seriously. Many still understand the
West to be the centre of Christianity, as in 1700, from which
missionaries are sent out to complete the Great Commission.
Traditionally, the USA, Britain or Germany have been the trend setting
nations in the church. That is where the influential publishing houses
have their headquarters; the overwhelming majority of Christian
conference speakers, authors, seminars and concepts for pastor training
originate there, but it seems that many are asking
"What good thing can come out of Vietnam, Northern India, China,
Indonesia, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Honduras, Trinidad or Argentina?"
And yet exactly these - and other - non-Western nations are
home to the
most important trends in missionary Christianity. Are we
What about the USA?
Up until now, mega churches were a typically American phenomenon. It is
striking, then, that not one of the world's forty largest
churches is in the USA or another Western nation. The really
growth is taking place basically outside the West.
Source: FridayFax is produced by Wolfgang Simson,
researcher, journalist and author. - http://www.simsonwolfgang.de