World Missions

Posted in discipleship, theology, uncategorized by Nathan Creitz on January 5, 2009

picture-11Today was the first day of my winter session course on World Missions at GCTS. Tim Tennent is my professor. The class is 3 hours a day for 2 weeks including reading 1200 pages and 7 assigned theological journal articles, two tests, and exact memorization of 20 Bible verses and 150 countries on the world map. Since I read about 30 pages an hour, the task seems daunting as it will take me an estimated 120+ hours for lectures, reading, and memorization/studying. However, after the first lecture, I am extremely excited about this course.

For one thing, the professor began with an amazing description of the “Seven Mega-Trends Affecting Global Missions in the 21st Century”. Here are some of the highlights from my notes:

1st Mega-Trend “The Collapse of Christendom”

◊ For the longest time, Christianity was at the center of American culture. It was socially acceptable and sometimes even profitable to be Christian in our society. In the 21st century, however, Christianity will move more and more towards the periphery.
◊ Hendrik Kraemer said, “The Church is always in a state of crisis; its greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it.”
◊ We are moving from a state of belief to a state of unbelief.
◊ We are moving from a denominational to a global identity. Being Presbyterian or Methodist is not as important today.

2nd Mega-Trend “The Rise of Postmodernism”

◊ There are theological, cultural, and ecclesiastical crises that arise from postmodernism. People no longer believe that truth is true. The power of the word is lost for most people. For a preacher who believes that God has revealed Himself through words, this is a dangerous mindset.

3rd Mega-Trend “The Collapse of ‘the West Reaches the Rest’ Paradigm”

◊ The emergence of a Post-Christian West (4200 people are leaving the Christian faith per day in Western countries).
◊ The emergence of a Post-Western Christianity (In non-Western cultures, Christianity is blossoming, for example, in Africa alone Christianity gains about 24,000 new members per day!)

4th Mega-Trend “The Changing Face of Global Christianity” (related to Mega-Trend #3)

◊ Top 10 people groups that are most accepting of the Gospel today are in India and China.
◊ Top 10 people groups that are least accepting of the Gospel today are in Europe and North America.

5th Mega-Trend “The Emergence of a Fourth Branch of Christianity”

◊ Traditionally, there have been three: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. Today, there is an undefined and indistinct fourth branch emerging.
◊ Sometimes, this branch is referred to as “independent” but that is a very limited title.

6th Mega-Trend “The Impact of Globalization”

◊ If it weren’t for the immigrant population in the U.S. the Western Church would be in serious trouble. Most of the growth in American churches are in minority populations. Contrast that with Europe where Islam is growing rapidly because of immigration.
◊ The rise of urbanization and new technologies also affect our approach to missions around the world. 19th century missions was geared towards rural communities. Today, most of the largest unreached people groups are found in cities.

7th Mega-Trend “The Rise of a Deeper Ecumenism”

◊ There’s no reason to forsake our denominational identity but we can no longer be exclusive to our denomination, or allow our denomination to be our overarching identity. Though Protestant, I can’t be confined or defined by some events that took place in the 16th century, there are millions of Christians around the world that don’t place the same emphases on what the Reformers emphasized.

The conclusion to this particular lecture was that as young pastors and missionaries, we will be engaging in a new frontier. Almost everything is changing. It is an exciting and challenging time to be joing God’s mission around the world.


7 Responses

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  1. christhu doss said, on January 6, 2009 at 6.33 am

    good work …..keep doing….

  2. jacksbuzz said, on January 6, 2009 at 9.17 am

    Thank you for sharing this outline with us. It sounds like a tremendous missions class. You will be richer (and tired) from this experience. Hats off to your teacher!
    For future posts like this, it would be helpful to know the source of the trends mentioned. (Thanks also to Joe Kennedy for alerting me to your post.)
    -Jack Allen
    Church Planting prof, New Orleans

    • Nathan Creitz said, on January 7, 2009 at 7.55 pm

      Thanks Jack,

      I should’ve been clearer…the 7 Mega-Trends were developed by my professor Dr. Tim Tennent.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on January 7, 2009 at 7.56 pm

      Thanks Jack,

      I should’ve been clearer…the 7 Mega-Trends were developed by my professor Dr. Tim Tennent.

  3. Justin Martin said, on January 6, 2009 at 11.02 am

    Hey Nathan. Love your blog. What is your book list for this class?

    • Nathan Creitz said, on January 7, 2009 at 7.55 pm

      Hey Justin, here is the book list:
      Anderson, Courtney. To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson
      Escobar, Samuel. New Global Missions: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone
      Johnstone, Patrick J. Operation World
      Van Engen, Charles. Mission on the Way
      Wilson, J. Christy. More to Be Desired than Gold

  4. Joe Kennedy said, on January 6, 2009 at 8.31 pm

    Hey Nathan, if you think about it, can you send me the syllabus/bibliography for this class? I may not have gotten the info at NOBTS, but that doesn’t mean I stop reading/learning.

    Thanks man.

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