The last 10 years weren't just about terrorism and recession. Amid the storm clouds, God was working in profound ways.
We didn't know what to call it—was it the '00s?—yet we've just
passed through quite a decade. We had natural disasters (the 2004 Asian
tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in 2005), financial meltdowns (bank failures
and 10 percent unemployment) and global conflict (9/11 and the war on
terror). It brought doom and gloom on one hand and technological
breakthroughs on the other. What a ride it has been.
How has God been working during this tumultuous season? Here's my list of seven megatrends that marked these last 10 years:
1. Third-World Christianity kept growing. There
are now about 600 million Christians in Africa. Protestant Christianity
grew 600 percent in Vietnam in the last decade. In China, where a
50,000-member megachurch was raided in Shanxi province a few weeks ago,
there are now an estimated 130 million churchgoers.
"We have no reason to fear the future. Whatever challenges loom ahead, the
same God who carried us through this past decade will give us sucess in
the next one."
Astounding church growth has occurred in Guatemala, Brazil, India
and Ethiopia. In Nepal, which had no Christians in 1960, there are now
a half-million believers. The Christian population of Indonesia has
mushroomed from 1.3 million to 11 million in 40 years.
scholars in Europe and the United States love to cite Islam as the
world's fastest-growing religion, but observers know the facts:
Christianity, while waning especially in Europe, is growing faster than
ever in the Southern hemisphere. Philip Jenkins, who wrote The Next Christendom
in 2002, declared: "The center of gravity has moved to the global
south. So if we're looking for the religion that is going to affect the
largest number of lives in the 21st century, it is almost certainly
going to be Christianity."
2. The digital revolution opened new doors for evangelism.
This decade began with fears that a Y2K virus would shut down all
computers. The opposite happened. Technology exploded. "Google" became
a verb, more than 200 million people joined Facebook, and analog TV
faded into history along with phone books, answering machines, road
maps, cassette tapes, floppy disks and rolodexes—unless you purchased
those items on eBay for sentimental reasons.
complained about all the new terms technology added to our lexicon:
TiVo, Twitter, Skype, iPod, iTunes, YouTube, Hulu, Kindle, webcams. But
the shift to digital media happened faster than the speed of a wireless
signal. It will forever change the way we live, work and play. Rather
than fighting change, we'd best find God in the swift current and
discover how He wants us to use new media. The possibility of reaching
every person on this planet with the gospel has never been this huge.
3. The global economic crisis didn't stop the church.
It seemed as if God pushed a great big reset button in 2007. The
mortgage bubble burst, banks were in trouble and credit dried up. When
U.S. gas prices hit $4 a gallon in 2008, people feared that the
American Dream had died.
Yet, amazingly, while hundreds of
thousands of people lost jobs and the government was bailing out GM and
Chrysler, charitable giving to churches actually went up 5.5 percent in
2008, even though other forms of giving declined. Faith actually
thrives in a recession.
4. As militant Islam increased, so did a backlash. On
9/11, terrorists hijacked our planes and crashed them into the World
Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania farmland. But in some parts
of the world where radical Islam is predominant, protest movements
flourished. This was never more evident than in 2009 when Iranian youth
activists took to the streets to denounce their own tyrannical
government. In other parts of the Middle East, Muslims are finding
Jesus Christ after having supernatural dreams about Him. Terrorists did
not stop democracy—or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
5. Spiritual hunger grew more intense.
Although secular culture seemed to grow more hostile to Christian faith
and values during the '00 decade, movies, books and music reflected a
growing interest in spirituality—everything from atheism to pantheism
to vampires to The DaVinci Code—and Christian ideas competed for the global stage.
The Passion of the Christ,
Mel Gibson's 2004 film about the Crucifixion, became the
highest-grossing non-English film of all time—and Egyptian Muslims
lined up to see it for weeks. Disney's 2005 version of the C.S. Lewis
classic, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, became one of the highest-grossing films ever. And Christian books such as The Prayer of Jabez (2000), The Purpose-Driven Life (2002) and The Shack (2007) put Christian themes at the top of mainstream best-seller lists while a relatively homemade Christian movie, Fireproof, became the highest-grossing independent film of 2008.
6. The charismatic movement experienced a painful but needed purging.
Although global Pentecostalism continued to grow, parts of the
independent charismatic movement went into a tailspin. Marred by
high-profile divorces, sex scandals and a credibility crisis, segments
of the charismatic church fell on hard times. The overhaul of Oral
Roberts University in 2008 seemed to be a prophetic harbinger of a
At the close of the decade,
charismatic churches were energized when thousands of youth gathered
for protracted prayer meetings at Mike Bickle's International House of
Prayer in Kansas City, Mo. Those youth were not focused on the carnal
prosperity message but on personal holiness, Spirit-empowered
evangelism and prophetic social justice—values that are now emerging as
key components of a new charismatic agenda.
7. A "healthy church" movement emerged.
Refreshing younger voices arose on the charismatic/evangelical scene in
the '00s—reminding us that when Jezebel threatens, God always reserves
His prophets in a cave for a crucial hour. Although this young movement
has its stars and its cheerleaders—such as Louie Giglio, Robert Morris,
Joel and Jonathan Stockstill, Chris Hodges, Mark Batterson, Samuel
Rodriguez, Priscilla Shirer (daughter of Bible teacher Tony Evans) and
Francis Chan—it is driven by thousands of faceless leaders who are
contending for a return to passionate faith.
from both charismatic and non-charismatic backgrounds, are reclaiming
integrity, humility and purity while rejecting the egotism and greedy
excess of the past season. They are committed to solid Bible teaching,
relational discipleship and a nonreligious church experience that is
appealing to the next generation. And they are planting churches—both
traditional ones in buildings, as well as house churches—at an
I'm worn and weary from the stress of the last
10 years, but I have never been more excited about stepping into a new
season of opportunity. We have no reason to fear the future. Whatever
challenges loom ahead, the same God who carried us through this past
decade will give us success in the next one.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady. He invites you to post on our forum what you believe were the highlights of the past decade.
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