One day I’m sitting on a sky train in a major bustling city sipping Starbucks frappuccino while the next I’m sitting in a thatched hut in a jungle eating a rare and newly discovered species of squirrel. In both places I get to live life with people who are lost and people who are found. From two utterly different walks of life, West and East, I get to see the Kingdom of God at work.
And my observation is this: the East is experiencing the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit as the Kingdom of God advances, while the West is experiencing spiritual stagnation as the kingdom of comfort and compromise advance.
Faith is dead in many western nations like the U.S., Europe and Australia. Modern church multiplication movements are happening mostly in the global-south like Latin America, Africa and especially Asia. We know this already. Western church planting practitioners talk a lot about learning from missional movements in the East. But everywhere I go in the West I am bombarded by a market driven church culture. From podcasts, to parking lots, to buildings, to emo pants, stage lights, and communion cups – the church in the West looks nothing like the church in the East.
In the East, following Jesus is simple. It is life-transforming. It is inherently dangerous. It is counter-cultural. It is massively driven by obedience. If we are to take the Spirit-led movement of churches reproducing churches seriously, we must evaluate and throw off everything that contributes to our own comfort, influence and tradition.
These are my general observations. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. There are many spirit-filled individuals who are living out the Kingdom and seeing small church movements in the West – but of course we don’t know their names because they would prefer you know the name Jesus.
How do you observe faith in the West/East?
Good stuff brother!
Sweet, thanks bro!
I saw the same thing when I spend a month in West Africa. Christianity over there is simple, but so powerful. I experienced more of a culture shock coming back to America than vice versa. America is inundated with a weak, man centered form of the Gospel.
But I do think that I am observing a discontentment among the teens and twenty somethings with that weak Christianity. Consequently most of them are moving towards either a stronger and more profound faith or some form of agnosticism. I remain hopeful that the shift will tend towards a stronger Christianity, as in the Young Restless Reformed movement. Either case, I believe that in coming years the divide will grow and the mushy Christianity is going to fade.
I take this hope from the popularity of books like “Don’t Waste Your Life” and “Radical.” Books full of strong doctrine and hard truth like these shouldn’t have been as popular as they were. A good sign I hope
Thanks Ross for your thoughts. Nicely said. I totally concur with your observations and hopeful outlook for the next generation.
We live in a different world today and this gen is more connected, socially active and hopeful then ever. I totally resonate with Claude Hickman, David Platt and others as well. They are doing a great job communicating the pursuit of God’s glory to this age. Books and courses like, “The Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” are maybe too deep and academic for most.
Truth is, people like you and me lead the way as we do the things we say. We can only hope that others would follow Jesus in obedience and be relevant to the world around them.
Peace from the Southeast!