If the locus of power and influence in Christianity is shifting away from the West, then what should be our response? How do we participate in the edification of the church and the communication of the gospel to panta ta ethne in the Global South?
Let's start with what our role is not.
Evangelism. If we are looking at the Global South, the continents in the world where the followers of Christ are daily multiplying by the thousands, then clearly the need is not evangelism. Evangelism is happening organically, spontaneously, and indigenously.
Church planting. Like evangelistic efforts, church planting activities are widespread in the Global South. These new followers of Christ desire to gather together, and they do.
Let me hasten to add that I am not arguing that followers of Jesus from the Global North should never evangelize or plant churches in the Global South. What I am saying is that it doesn't make sense to develop strategies, spend resources, develop programs to meet a need that pales in comparison with other needs.
Then, what? Do we have a role at all? Is there a need we can meet?
The practice of Paul in the book of Acts to plant churches has long served as a sort of template for missionaries through the centuries. But, Paul didn't just evangelize, disciple, and gather people into churches. He spent time and resources to strengthen existing churches by training and encouraging leaders.
In the West, we have a robust theological and missiological heritage that we can offer. The theological wavering, missiological malpractice, and pastoral challenges that the Global South is currently facing are the same issues that the the Western church has battled for centuries.
We have to opportunity to approach the Global South, not as a master, but as a brother. We can share that which the Lord has entrusted to us. We can become servants of the Global South for the edification of the rapidly expanding church in this part of the world and for the glory of the Savior that has called us all to make disciples of all nations.
It is precisely this need that ICP, the missions organization that I am leading, seeks to meet. There are others as well. If you are interested in partnering with ICP, go here.
There is another way for us to serve the Global South. You may have encountered the idea of "cultural mandate" before. We'll address that next.