Purchase a Print Edition. Our work is possible by the generosity of our readers. Give Today. Resources Donate. Do You Disciple Your Staff? Mullery , V. Now what? Book Review: MissionShift, ed. You may unsubscribe at any time. Support 9Marks Our work is possible by the generosity of our readers. Recently Added. Ecclesiology for Calvinists February The Pastor and Pornography October Church Discipline: Medicine for the Body January The Reformation and Your Church Fall Church Mergers and Plants Summer Pastoring Singles Spring The Church Praying Spring Missions: Adding Wisdom to Zeal Fall Expositional Preaching Spring Vanishing Church?
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With its population of over 1. The religion experiencing real numerical growth is Islam. On the other hand, only 2. I have elsewhere addressed the widespread corruption, deceitful practices, and bad missiology that plague the church in India. Simply put, a lot of church growth numbers are highly exaggerated, and false teachings such as the prosperity gospel have infiltrated the church, leading many to make shipwreck of their faith.
But despite these challenges, Jesus is building his church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
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And to that end I answer the question: What are the encouraging and discouraging trends for the health of the church in India? Perhaps the main reason for the weakness of the Indian church has been the severe lack of emphasis on faithful preaching and teaching. This trend, however, is changing for the better—God be praised! The Internet certainly plays a part in this remarkable change, especially in urban contexts.
In ages past, for better or worse and mostly worse , people in church simply accepted what was taught. But now, many young men and women are seeking answers to difficult Bible questions on the Internet, and very quickly they find themselves drinking deeply from the wealth of resources put out by ministries such as 9Marks, DesiringGod, TGC, Ligonier, Grace to You, and others. Because churches in India have held a low view of preaching for so long, evangelism, true conversion, and biblical discipleship have also been overlooked.
The Spirit-given means for evangelism and discipleship have been traded for the pathetic pottage of gimmicks and seeker-friendly programs. Most churches have outsourced evangelism and disciple-making to parachurch ministries. Because of this, there remains a great need for local churches to grow in doing the hard work of evangelizing and creating a culture of discipleship where whole churches—not just the leaders— are growing in maturity and building themselves up in love Eph.
Likewise, whole churches need to embrace the Great Commission as a commission first and foremost to them.
Sadly, most Indian churches have a fuzzy concept of church membership. While some practice a form of church discipline, rarely do we see churches move through a process of escalation and Fall Healthy Churches Around the World. Too many churches are marked by either stringent legalism or rampant antinomianism. So, when it comes to ecclesiology, India needs nothing short of a reformation. Finally, an area where the Indian church is flourishing is in passionate, zealous prayer. To be sure, these prayers often accompany faulty theology, where people think they will be answered affirmatively because of their zeal and fervor, rather than the merits of Christ.
Nevertheless, the Indian church is without question a praying church. Perhaps these prayers, together with the prayers of our Western brothers and sisters, will result in true revival and reformation, so that the church will truly display the glory of Christ. See Terry G.
Carter, ed. For many churches in China the idea of being healthy is a luxury. Yet in recent years there is a growing trend of pursuing not only the survival, but the health of churches. I only found out because I happened to meet their guest speaker whom I knew when I was leaving for my church one Sunday. That said, though the total number of churches is unknown, we can categorize the churches in China in three ways. Bible study.
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They meet in homes, fellowship with each other, and either do a Bible study or watch a sermon video because of the lack of pastoral resources. The reasoning behind this model depends. The second layer of churches are more formal than the first. Churches that fit into this category can be found in many cities and suburban areas.
They either have full-time ministers in every congregation or a pastoral team that serves several congregations. Parachurch ministries often hold considerable influence over these churches, which means unity is a major theme and, unfortunately, doctrinal differences are often buried in the pursuit of unity. Third-layer churches are mainly those who have been influenced by Reformed theology, especially as it pertains to ecclesiology.
This three-layer model is dynamic. Some churches move from the first layer to the second or third. Others in the third layer fall back to the second layer, while many churches in the first layer But all of these churches, without exception, believe the Bible and firmly hold to a separation of church and state.
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Many of us worry that because of this conviction, the new Religious Affairs Regulation may push second- and third-layer churches back into first layer. We will see. For many churches in China, church health is a luxury. Just as people in a famine are willing to eat anything that looks edible, regardless of whether the food has sufficient nutrition, Chinese churches crave whatever spiritual nourishment they can get.
Churches in the first layer especially labor under a spiritual and theological famine. Despite these difficulties, these churches do preach the gospel, even as they cry out for God to send them more—and better—leaders. More than that, many Chinese pastors and church leaders are eager to establish church membership and leadership according to Scripture.
But now, many are asking how to implement it faithfully. Please pray for us. Though they may never receive the fame of an Adoniram Judson, faithful workers across Myanmar are quietly laboring to build up the church. We began researching and discovered a recent history filled with devastating cyclones, extensive spy networks, raging civil wars, bloody strikes, and pervasive spiritual darkness. I also remember when I first read of Adoniram Judson and his family who came to Burma in the early s.
I remember being greatly encouraged by their faithfulness and perseverance as they served the Lord amidst great affliction.
The Lord empowered them to master the Burmese language and then use those skills to translate the full Bible. The Lord empowered them to introduce many to the gospel and then, as people believed, to establish the foundation upon which the modern Burmese church stands. Nonetheless, my experiences have revealed discouraging trends of misplaced fear and leadership struggles that — left unchecked — threaten to render the church idle.
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At the same time, the Lord has many faithful laborers in this land, and exciting things are happening. Myanmar is aggressively Buddhist. In the face of that aggression, many pastors have exchanged the fear of the Lord with a fear of government and Buddhist leaders. The consequence of this exchange is an unwillingness to proclaim the gospel in the church.
In other words, misplaced fears have turned the church inward. I recently asked a church leader about evangelism and her response was dictated by fear. We must not bother people because several years ago the government closed us down. We must be careful not to bother the people anymore.
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