Different Expressions One Faith
Christianity in the 21st Century has grown increasingly complicated and understanding the nuances and "worlds" of Christianity will be key in navigating ministry in the future. We have identified three very different expressions of Christianity in the world today: the Traditional World, Non-Western World and Post-Christendom World. Each world processes, presents and structures church very differently. No expression is better than the other, but each exists as an expression of the same faith. At Three Worlds, we hope to educate people about the differences and assist churches in navigating the challenges of engaging and uniting people from different worlds.
All Three Worlds of Christianity can exist in any one country or even any one church. In Western places like the United States or Germany, non-Western immigrant churches are flourishing in the cities, while the locals may attend a Traditional or Post-Christendom church
The Traditional World
THIS IS A WORLD WHERE CHURCHES ARE STRUCTURED IN A TRADITIONAL STYLE, PEOPLE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY ARE PART OF THE PROTESTANT CHURCH, AND THE CULTURE AROUND THEM KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS THE ROLE OF CHURCHES. THE TRADITIONAL WORLD IS IN DECLINE FOR THE MOST PART, BUT ITS EMPHASIS ON SOLID THEOLOGY AND ITS MANY INSTITUTIONS STILL DO GOOD THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND REMAIN VERY IMPORTANT. TRADITIONAL CHURCHES EXIST IN MOST COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY IN THE WEST.
The Non-Western World
IN THIS WORLD, SOCIETY-AT-LARGE TENDS TO BE VERY RELIGIOUS AND EVANGELICAL OR PENTECOSTAL CHRISTIANITY MAY BE A NEW PHENOMENON THAT IS SEEING EXPLOSIVE GROWTH. THERE IS A STRONG BELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL AND THE MIRACULOUS. COMMUNITY LIFE MAY ALSO BE CONSIDERABLY STRONGER THAN IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD MAY KNOW A LOT ABOUT THE BIBLE, BUT LITTLE ABOUT CHRISTIAN HISTORY OR WESTERN DENOMINATIONS. THERE IS A GREAT RESPECT FOR THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE, AND PEOPLE TEND TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE ABOUT MORAL ISSUES, AND ISSUES OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION THAN IN THE OTHER TWO WORLDS. INDIA, BOLIVIA, AND UGANDA ARE EXAMPLES.
The Post-Christendom World
THIS IS A WORLD WHERE CHRISTIANITY WAS ONCE WIDELY UNDERSTOOD AND ADHERED TO, BUT OVER THE COURSE OF TIME THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE CULTURE HAS DECLINED SO MUCH THAT PEOPLE RARELY KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FAITH AND MAY IN FACT BE HOSTILE OR SUSPICIOUS TOWARDS CHRISTIANITY. CHURCHES STRUCTURED IN A TRADITIONAL WAY HAVE A HARD TIME GROWING IN THESE PLACES, SO NEW CHURCHES ARE EMERGING TO RE-INTRODUCE CHRISTIANITY TO THE SECULAR WORLD. GERMANY, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, MUCH OF CANADA, AND GROWING PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE CHURCHES THAT FIT INTO THIS MODEL.