The global church has seen some remarkable changes over the past 100 years. One of the most significant changes is the geographic center of the Christian faith. In the year 1900, over 80% of the world’s Christian population was Caucasian and over 70% resided in Europe. Much has changed since then. Today, the geographic center of the faith is moving to the Global South: approximately 60% of the world’s Christians are now living in the so-called two thirds world (Africa, Middle East, and Asia).1 The chief reason for this global shift is the explosive growth of the church in the Global South over the past several decades. More people have made a profession of faith in Christ in the past 100 years than in all of the previous centuries combined. Over the next 30 to 40 years the projected growth of the church is equally stunning. In Asia, the church is currently approximately 313 million in size, but by 2025 the church is projected to grow to 460 million believers. This is an anticipated increase of 47% from the size of the Asian church in the year 2000. 2 These amazing statistics should lead us in unceasing praise to God for His remarkable work worldwide!
But significant challenges still remain. Two of the most pressing needs are:
A lack of pastors. Currently, churches in the United States average about one trained pastor for every 230 people. Global South countries, however, have about one trained pastor for every 450,000 people. The church is growing so rapidly in the Global South – some estimate about 50,000 new baptized believers every day – that traditional “brick and mortar” seminaries can not train pastors fast enough to meet the need. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that the global church will need 7,700,000 new pastors by 2050. Africa alone will need 5.8 million, Asia will need 1.7 million, while North America will only need 68,000 new pastors.
- A lack of literature resources to disciple both the new believers and the pastors who will lead them. Unfortunately, the publication of supportive Christian books often lags far behind the printing and distribution of Bibles. As a result there is a massive publishing vacuum in many Global South countries.
One of the most pressing needs is to find literature resources to disciple both the new believers and the pastors who will lead them. Some countries in Asia have few or no Christian books from any theological perspective, while in other countries the books that do exist are often from a theologically liberal or prosperity gospel perspective (e.g., Benny Hinn). Unfortunately, quality titles are still very much in the minority which greatly limits the work of reformed churches and missionaries as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission. More to the point, if the reformed community is unprepared to meet the literature needs of the Asian church today when it is 313 million in size, what are we going to do in the future when the church grows to 460 million?
We at the Robert Morrison Project believe that it is vital that reformed churches worldwide take proactive steps to meet the literature needs of the growing Asian church over the next 40 to 50 years. Our desire is not to replace the development of indigenous authors, but rather to supplement their work by publishing some of the most influential reformed authors in church history. Our aim is to fill the vast publishing vacuum in Asia with God-glorifying literature resources using multiple publishing platforms (paper, ebook, web, smart phone app). Initial efforts so far have been extremely encouraging.3 But to do more, we need your help. Would you consider making a financial gift to support the publishing efforts of the Robert Morrison Project in Asia? The stakes are just too high for us to remain idle and do nothing.
Sola Deo Gloria
1 David Barrett, Todd Johnson, Peter Crossing, “Status of Global Mission Presence, and Activities, AD 1800-2025,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 32 (January 2008): 30.
2 Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 3.
3 In May 2015, four of the top ten selling Christian books in China were written by reformed authors. The number one selling book was Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards.