I want to share with you some information on my next writing project. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church is scheduled to be released this spring (Lord willing) with Thomas Nelson.
This book addresses twelve of the most critical global issues influencing the advancement of the gospel across the nations of the world. While I do not claim that my list of issues is exhaustive, these are some of the macro-level matters that will influence the Church for years to come.
As a church leader, you need to be in-the-know regarding these global realities that your church will encounter as you send disciple-makers to the nations. Our response to these matters is critical to the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches.
The Force of Pressure
Pressure is a unique force. While it can be damaging, it is also a beneficial force. Without an appropriate blood pressure, the human body cannot function. Many adolescents are subjected to braces to straighten their teeth. Through the use of brackets, wires, and rubber bands, orthodontists are able to apply the appropriate amount of pressure to move the teeth into the desired location. Every jeweler knows that when carbon is placed under the appropriate amount of pressure a diamond may result.
Until the Lord’s return, each generation of believers will face numerous challenges to the mission of the Church. While the Church does not have control over the macro-level, contextual issues of each generation, Her response to them is a matter of Kingdom stewardship.
She can either allow the pressure from these global issues to push Her off of Her biblical moorings and into a place of irrelevancy, or, She can absorb the pressures while responding in a way that remains faithful to Her calling and mission.
While each of today’s critical issues poses numerous challenges to the advancement of the gospel, I am writing this book with a positive tone, believing that some of the greatest days for Kingdom advancement are still to come.
The following is a list of the sections of the work, with a brief summary of each. Of course, we are several months from the publication date so things may change a little.
Introduction: The Church and the Challenges of the Ages
This section provides the theological and missiological foundation for the Church’s response to the twelve global issues. I discuss the nature and function of the Church as related to the mission of the Church. In this chapter, I set the tone for the rest of the book, noting that while the Church has and will continue to face challenges until the Lord’s return, the Spirit will continue to guide Her in each generation. While the challenges of each epoch will influence the way in which the Church remains on mission, such challenges will not crush or destroy the Bride of Christ. Rather, each of the twelve points of pressure exerted on the Church are opportunities for positive, healthy, and God-glorifying responses.
Each of the following chapters contain the following sections: 1) Brief history behind the issue; 2) Contemporary discussion of the issue, including the most up-to-date statistics; 3) Challenge offered to the Church; 4) Opportunity for the Church to be on mission; and 5) Questions for practical consideration.
Chapter 1: Unreached People Groups
Even though popular discussions of unreached people groups can be traced back to 1974, there are still four billion people on the earth who do not have a relationship with Jesus, including two billion who have never even heard the name “Jesus.” At present, there are still 6,426 people groups that remain unreached with the gospel. Of those groups with populations over 50,000, 632 groups are considered “unengaged unreached people groups,” meaning that there are no full-time workers involved in evangelism and church planting among them.
Chapter 2: Truth and Pluralism
The influence of twentieth century postmodernity, the ongoing development of secularization, and the rise of the new atheism all combat against the truth once for all delivered to the saints. These and a host of other factors contribute to a general pluralism that applies pressure to the Church wherever she is found.
Chapter 3: West as a Mission Field
For nearly 200 years, the great Protestant missionary movement was primarily a movement from the West to the East. Now, however, the post-Christianized West has become a major mission field for the twenty-first century. Within recent decades, the Church in the western nations of the world (i.e., United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe) has been experiencing a significant decline in both adherents to the faith and influence in society at large. While such declines have been the most drastic outside the United States, the impact of this issue is now felt in this country.
Chapter 4: Majority World Church
The most rapid church growth today is occurring in the Majority World. The largest numbers of followers of Christ live outside of the western countries. Many Majority World churches are now sending missionaries across the globe, including to western countries. While the growth of the Majority World Church is a good thing for the Body of Christ, such rapid growth comes with challenges. The need for healthy biblical teaching and leadership development is a common cry from such church leaders. Also, churches in the West, with their large amounts of material resources, education, and skilled leaders, need to consider how they can partner with such Majority World Christians for the advancement of the gospel. Issues such as pride, racism, competition, and paternalism are among some of the challenges that will interfere with healthy partnerships.
Chapter 5: World Religions
The growth in the religions of the world poses a great challenge to the Church. Islam, for example, is growing faster than Christianity in parts of the world, especially in Western Europe. The Church needs to understand how to share appropriately the gospel with those of other faiths, without vilifying such people. Another area of importance is in understanding how to contextualize the gospel and plant churches without compromising the message.
Chapter 6: International Migration
The Church presently lives in what has been called as the “Age of Migration.” At the moment, 3% of the world’s peoples reside outside of their countries of birth. This number is now 214 million people. If such a population represented a country, it would be the fifth largest nation on the planet. The majority of these peoples are moving to western countries and represent some of the world’s unreached and least reached peoples. Various push-pull factors influence their reasons for departure, migration, and return to their homelands. Factored within this issue are also the categories of students, refugees, asylees, and undocumented migrants.
Chapter 7: Globalization
Human interconnectedness has increased across the globe. A person can physically be anywhere on the planet within 48 hours. Through telecommunications, information now travels instantaneously. Globalization has resulted in an accelerated, compressed, and intensive way of life for many. All areas of life have been affected by this issue (e.g., economics, religion, family dynamics, education).
Chapter 8: Poverty
As the separation between the “haves” and the “have nots” is expected to increase in the coming years, at present, there are 925 million undernourished people in the world today. This means that that 1 in 7 people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Ninety-eight percent of the world’s hungry reside in Majority World countries. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths in children under five in Majority World countries.
Chapter 9: Urbanization
The Church now resides in an urban world, with over 50% of the global population residing in the cities. Few are able to escape the effect of urbanization. This force knows no geographical boundaries, but extends even to the rural areas. While urbanization will continue to increase in the post-industrialized, western nations, it will continue to increase the fastest in the Majority World. The cities of the world will continue to expand. Cities will continue to be places of rapid change, great population density, and global influence. Over the past 200 years, many Protestant advances occurred mainly in the rural areas. The urban challenge will require the Church to think differently and minister with different methods.
Chapter 10: Children and Youth
It is estimated that children comprise one-third of the world’s population, providing for a young median age in certain areas. Youth and children are among some of the most neglected, abused, and needy people in the world. War, child labor, slavery, prostitution, poverty, and human trafficking have greatly affected many young people of the world. The global diversity of births reveals the following: for every 100 children born today 55 are Asian (19 in India, 18 in China); 8 are Latin American and the Caribbean; 7 are Middle Eastern and North African; 16 are sub-Saharan African; 6 are of the CEE/CIS and Baltic States; and 8 are from the industrialized countries. Over 100 million children of primary school age are not in school.
Chapter 11: Health Care
Every year, multitudes contract communicable and non-communicable diseases which affect mortality and morbidity. Many of these diseases could be prevented with proper education, clean drinking water, proper sanitation, and health care workers. While the greatest need for improved health care is found outside of the West, post-industrialized countries are not exempt from this need and preventable diseases.
Chapter 12: Oral Learners
Two-thirds of the world’s population are oral learners, meaning they cannot, do not, or will not learn through literate means. For centries, the Church has “walked on literate feet.” Many people in the world do not have their language in a written form, making literate communication impossible.
Prayers Greatly Desired
While I am excited to share this information with you, I greatly desire your prayers as I work on this project. Pray for the Lord to be glorified in this work. Thank you for remembering me!