In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift toward the developing world within global Christianity. In the early 20th Century, 80% of Christians lived in either North America or Europe. Today, there are now more Christians in the global South than in the North. Over 1 billion Christians live in Africa and Latin America alone.
The astounding growth of Christianity across Latin America and Africa is, however, not always healthy. There is growth in nominal “evangelicalism,” but the reality is a chaotic mix of prosperity theology, syncretism and scandals. At the heart of it all is a leadership crisis.
At the heart of it all is a leadership crisis.
Consider the following excerpt from an article by Brazilian pastor and theologian Augustus Nicodemus about the challenges facing the Brazilian church:
“According to the latest official census, evangelicals represent almost one-quarter of the total population of Brazil (22.5 percent). It is a phenomenal growth, seeing that just 40 years ago they were only 2.5 percent. In spite of their constant official growth, hailed to the world as a success story of missions and evangelism, evangelicals in Brazil face today several challenges. I’ll mention a few:
- uncertainty about their own future theological direction
- multiplicity of divergent theologies
- lack of a leadership with moral and spiritual authority
- doctrinal and moral downfall of once-respectable leaders
- rise of totalitarian leaders who call themselves not only pastors but also self-proclaimed bishops and apostles
- gradual conquest of the schools of theology by theological liberalism
- lack of moral standards that can function as a starting point for ecclesiastical discipline
- depreciation of doctrine and exaltation of experience alone
As a result, more Brazilians are looking for churches just to feel good, to seek immediate solutions for their material problems without even reflecting on deeper questions about the existence of eternity, and moving from one community to another without any commitment or engagement in real Christian life and testimony. Incidentally, the number of people who profess to be evangelicals but rarely attend church has grown from 6 percent to 16 percent of all evangelicals in the last few years.”
It is not all doom and gloom, however. Where we find godly men, who are well-prepared theologically and practically, we find flourishing, healthy churches.
These men, however, are too few.
Many embark on pastoral ministry with no formal theological education. This is the norm worldwide. Our best estimates indicate that 85% of the world’s pastors have little or no formal theological training. Their barriers to access may be geographic, cultural or financial.
For others who have access, the local seminary is either ill-equipped or has fallen into theological liberalism which denies the foundational role of the Bible. What will a man who knows little of Scripture, who trusts little in Scripture or who lacks the practical tools to clearly teach Scripture bring to serve his church?
We can, however, change this outlook. First, we identify the men God is calling to lead His Church and invest deeply in their lives. We give them a theological education of the highest quality. We place them with godly mentors who are themselves experienced pastors, immerse them in the life of the local church and give them practical tools for leadership and ministry. This is how the Many Witnesses Project seeks to build up the church for the Glory of God.
 Nicodemus, Augustus “The Growing Crisis Behind Brazil’s Evangelical Success Story” the article in its entirety is available at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-growing-crisis-behind-brazils-evangelical-success-story