Thursday, May 19, 2005

20,000+ Neo-Apostolic Networks

Continuing the theme of "new monasticism," I've been struck recently with how a book written by two missiologists, Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, and published in 2003 called The Shaping of Things to Come has suddenly started to pop up in a lot of my friends' hands recently. Hirsch is quoted in last week's Friday Fax discussing his forthcoming book Apostolic Genius in which he talks about some "extremely notable, even astonishing" research:

According to Professor David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, there were already 111 million Christians without a traditional local church in 2001. Barrett highlights particularly the development of the so-called "Neo-Apostolic" networks and movements, of which there are already over 20,000 around the world, numbering around 394 million Christians. According to Barrett, these Christians reject historical denominationalism and all restrictive central authority, and attempt to lead a life of following Jesus, seeking a more effective missionary lifestyle. They are the fastest-growing Christian movements in the world. Barrett estimates that by the year 2025, these movements will have around 581 million members, 120 million more than all Protestant movements together.

Hirsh, who has invited all of Australia's missionary movements to a conference in Victoria (Forge National Summit, 1-3 July 2005), confirms the trend from his own experience, and believes that these new Christian movements "are simply under the radar of traditional Christianity," at least as long as it holds on to the classical Constantine church structure (pastor + building + programme = church). Source: Alan Hirsch, (emphasis added)

No comments: