At one point in time the majority of the Christians lived in the northwestern hemisphere. Today, however, the epicenter of Christianity is moving. “60 percent of the estimated two billion Christians in the world live in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. By 2050, there will be an estimated three billion Christians, 75 percent of whom will live in what is the "Global South." Although this is a wakeup call for us in the Northern Church, these statistics are exciting! What a privilege to live in a time when the churches that were planted by European and American missionaries a century ago are showing such fruit! The Global South is stepping up to take the place of its predecessors in the North.
This exciting development highlights the necessity and rewards of sound missiological practices and healthy long-term goals. As the American church becomes an even smaller majority of the Christian population, we must make sure that we are being intentional in raising up local leaders as we engage in the Great Commission. It is not the Western Church’s job to lead the Global Church into the next era; but it is the Western Church’s job to ensure that the locals we are ministering alongside of are being raised up well in order to take their rightful place in leadership. Our efforts must be focused on making sure that the locals we are ministering to are ready for the task of leading the future church.
Last month at the Envision Taipei site, we hosted a short-term missions trip exchange with the Envision Bangkok site. The Bangkok team brought five local Thais to Taipei to expose them to the broader work of Envision as well as to invite them into a calling of international ministry of their own. At the end of the trip, one of the Thais stated that he thought that only white people were missionaries. Visiting other international workers in Taipei who were sent out by the Thai Alliance church and contributing to our ministry in their own Thai way caused a shift in their perception of missions. During this brief five-day trip, these Thai young people were able to see that they too had a role to play in the Great Commission. This is the proper goal of missions.
Jesus’ entire ministry model was focused on raising up locals for the purpose of building His church. We must remember as we do missions that we must empower the locals to see themselves as playing a part in the grand narrative of God’s story. Our Alliance DNA says that, “Fulfilling the Great Commission requires the mobilization of every fully devoted disciple.” This means disciples of all nations, not just the disciples from North America. If this job is to get done, we need to prepare local leaders all around the world to pick up the mantle of leadership of both the local and global church.
 The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Phillip Jenkins
Nathan Conklin is serving with Envision as a two-year resident in Taipei, Taiwan. Nathan is passionate about Business as Mission and empowering people to use their positions and interests for the Glory of God. Nathan is originally from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania and in his free time enjoys playing music, exploring the beautiful country of Taiwan, and spending time with good friends.