[anzac] CHANGING FACE of the CHURCH

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 22:42:33 -0500
Forwarded by:    "Dr Bob Hall" <BobHall@...>

FridayFax: September 17, 2004.
[FridayFax is produced by Wolfgang Simson, researcher, journalist
and author. - http://www.simsonwolfgang.de ]

WHAT is CHURCH?

The church is starting to see itself completely differently - that is one
trend which is growing stronger. It is no longer understood as a 
single organised fellowship (with a pastor, a building, a programme 
and a more or less creative name), but as an organic community of 
Christians in towns and regions, the sum of the members of related 
house churches, cells, groups and fellowships. This gives the church, 
as in the times of Acts, a regional instead of denominational identity. 
"The church in Corinth", Ephesus, Antioch or Jerusalem corresponds 
today to "The church in Berlin", Boulder, Beijing or Brasilia.

Regional house church networks are replacing mega churches
Such regional churches are not led by a 'Senior Pastor', but by
regional teams, generally formed by the coalescing of the fivefold
ministry. It is very noticeable that the traditional pastoral ministry
tends not to play the key role, but rather people with an apostolic 
or prophetic gifting, as hinted at in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and 
Ephesians 2:20. Christian community and unity is formed by 
belonging to the same region or town; unity is lived out in 
networked house churches and large celebrations, or at least in 
leaders' meetings in places where Christians are heavily persecuted. 
One of the smaller(!) house church networks in southern China has 
an attendance of 400,000, larger networks number several million. 
The twenty largest regional (not national) house church networks in 
China, Vietnam and northern India would completely change the list. 
For security reasons, we cannot publish any names or other details, 
with the exception of V. Choudhrie in India, because most if not all 
such large regional house church networks exist in nations which 
persecute or repress Christians. They generally belong to the group 
which missiologist Prof. David Barrett calls 'Crypto-Christians' -
underground Christianity. We believe that there are around twenty 
regional house church networks around the globe with an attendance 
of over 250,000.

Which are today's trend-setting nations?

These developments started outside the West (North America,
Europe, Australia and New Zealand), so many Western pastors and
Christian leaders find it difficult to take seriously. Many still
understand the West to be the centre of Christianity, as in 1700, 
from which missionaries are sent out to complete the Great 
Commission. Traditionally, the USA, Britain or Germany have been 
the trend setting nations in the church. That is where the influential 
publishing houses have their headquarters; the overwhelming majority 
of Christian conference speakers, authors, seminars and concepts 
for pastor training originate there, but it seems that many are asking
"What good thing can come out of Vietnam, Northern India, China,
Indonesia, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Honduras, Trinidad or Argentina?"

And yet exactly these - and other - non-Western nations are home 
to the  most important trends in missionary Christianity. Are we listening?

What about the USA?

Up until now, mega churches were a typically American phenomenon.
It is striking, then, that not one of the world's forty largest churches is
in the USA or another Western nation. The really significant church
growth is taking place basically outside the West.

Source: Wolfgang Simson.
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