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Christianity is Not Exploding in Africa

Nov. 18, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

I have read, heard and said many times that “Christianity is exploding in Africa.” I now believe I am wrong. In 2010, The Pew Forum released on interesting report titled: Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

religious-switching

One part of the study was to look at the current rate of conversions to Christianity and Islam. What you find on the chart above is that there are very few conversions in the countries where data was collected. Part of the reason there is no conversion might be because there is no one left to convert (see Zambia and Rwanda). But - it still calls into question our frequent saying that Christianity is exploding in Africa.

I think it would be helpful to qualify Africa’s growth by noting three things:

1. Christian faith did explode in Africa, especially between 1900-1970. There was also growth up until 2000, but at that point it seems to have flatlined.

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2. Very few try to qualify the kind of Christianity that is being converted to. Would you consider a person who claims to be Christian and sacrifices animals a believer? What about someone who denies the Trinity, or Jesus as the Son of God? What about the prosperity gospel? These type of unqualified statistics, which also appear in the US on a regular basis, don’t really tell the whole story. I once read a book on the history of missions in a West Africa country and not one time did the author address the kind of gospel that was being preached. Notice on the chart that it seems that the majority of people who converted to Christianity were converting from Traditional African Religions. One wonders whether Christianity was just tacked on.

 3. This is just speculation, but I wonder how much growth can be attested to family size. It seems that little conversion from Islam is currently happening, so why is Christianity still growing numerically so quickly. Could it be the size of families have something to do with it? This would not necessarily have an impact on the % of the population if it could be shown that everyone is having large families, but it certainly impacts the overall numbers.

So - let’s be careful. Let’s rejoice in what the Lord is doing and the fact that we can actually know what He is doing around the world. Let’s rejoice that people are turning to Christ. But, let’s also be careful and not exaggerate what the Lord is doing and in so doing undermine the very report we can rejoice over.

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The World as 100 People

Nov. 17, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio
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A Distraction for Pastors?

Oct. 9, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Lifeway Research recently polled over 1000 pastors on the biggest distractions they face. The most significant distraction – dealing with critics.

slide3Here are the numbers:

•79% of pastors say critics distract them from their ministries. Nearly 40% strongly agree that they do.
•Though pastors of all church sizes felt this way, pastors of churches with over 250 in worship attendance were more likely to struggle with the critics.
•48% of pastors say conflict among staff and/or key lay leaders is a significant distraction.
•Pastors in the South are more likely to have conflict among staff and/or key lay leaders than pastors in other regions.

It is a fascinating find, because a distraction is classified as something that is not part of what you should be doing. For example, to say problem solving is a distraction if your job is to be a leader, would be to dismiss part of your job description.

Everyone who has ever lived has had to deal with conflict. Christians tend to flee it through denial or flight, but those responses tend to makes things worse. Conflict is an opportunity for ministry if done well. A distraction? Sometimes. Moments for ministry? Always.

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Missionaries Sent and Received in 2010

Feb. 11, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

From a 2013 study from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell. This is a listing of the largest sending and receiving countries. Notice the difference between the largest senders and the largest senders per million church members.Screen_Shot_2015-02-07_at_8.42.18_PM

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Religious Police Found in Nearly One-in-Ten Countries Worldwide

Apr. 22, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Map_Religious_Police

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