After last week’s interview with ex-footballer and now theology student Gavin Peacock, today’s Times runs a feature entitled ‘God is back: How Ned Flanders won the Evangelical crusade.‘ Using Flanders as a reference point, it highlights some interesting statistics and makes insightful observations. It’s quite a long article, so I’ve quoted some parts I found interesting.
On the changing Christian demographic;
In 1900, 80 per cent of the world’s Christians lived in Europe and the United States; today, 60 per cent of them live in the developing world.
States that were once committed to enforcing secularism are now facing religious revivals. In Russia, 86 per cent of the population identify themselves as Christians; but the most remarkable example of Flanderism can be found in China’s house churches. We recently visited an apartment in a well-heeled district of Shanghai, where a technology executive hosted two dozen clever young Chinese, including several CEOs, a well-known academic and a stem-cell researcher. They spent three hours studying one letter from St Paul. Soon their church will get too big: it will cross the 25-person limit for unauthorised meetings, or one of the neighbours will complain about the hymns or the people hogging the parking spaces. So the church will have to split, guaranteeing its growth. China is well on its way to being the world’s biggest Christian country: there are at least 80 million Christians and already more people go to church every week than are members of the Communist Party.
An oh so common and often true criticism;
evangelical missions sometimes spend more time trying to convert poor people than trying to help them.
There are also interesting points on Christian intelligentsia.