Abiding in Joy

Speaking of our life in Christ, and His purposes on earth

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

What an Opportunity for the Church!

(Before reading this, I strongly urge you to read the last post.  This is really a Part 2.  There should be at least one more post on this topic in the next week.)

In my last post I talked about the rapidly changing demographics that are occurring here in America.  The immigrant population is booming, forcing business, political parties, education, the media, the arts, and yes, the Church, to adjust accordingly.  For the Church, this should not be viewed as some awful thing we must endure, but rather as an opportunity!

We should probably also note that the immigrant influx is not unique to the United States and Canada.  Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America are all undergoing significant demographic shifts as a result of immigration.   In 2010, at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, held in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the dominant themes to emerge was what is now being called “Peoples on the Move.”  The statistics of how the peoples of the world are moving around is amazing.  As might be expected, these changes bring considerable social unrest, especially as the second generation immigrants find themselves caught between the old culture (in which they are somewhat unfamiliar) and a new culture in which they are not fully accepted.  They are often unfairly categorized as ungrateful, lazy, or stubborn.  But research is also showing that these immigrant groups are overall the most open to the Gospel.  They are feeling displaced and lack the sense of community that often they have.  There is also an openness to explore aspects of their new culture.  What an opening for the Church!

Getting back to America, research has suggested that well over 90% of those living here in the U.S. from another country never even enter into a home of a native-born American.  We can always find excuses such as the awkwardness of the situation or the language/cultural barriers.  The bottom line, though, is that such statistics are a shame on Christians.  Remember what happened in John 4 after Jesus had that conversation with that Samaritan woman?  You know, she was the woman that shared with the entire town about the One who told her everything she had ever done.  His disciples were so concerned about the food that they did not even see this Samaritan woman.  Jesus told His disciples to “lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”  (John 4:35).  Many believed because of this woman, yet the disciples did not have their spiritual eyes opened.

While some are bemoaning the changes that are happening in the world today, especially as it pertains to changing demographics, the Church should recognize that it is God’s love for the peoples of the world that has allowed and even orchestrated this great movement of peoples around the world!  He desires to place more and more unreached peoples within the reach of discerning and Kingdom-minded disciples.  May we be part of that company of disciples!  May we lift up our eyes and look on the fields to see how they are white for harvest!

A Changing America

As always happens after an election, the pundits and analysts this week went straight to work trying to explain what happened. A lot of things have been said, and will continue to be said. The big surprise, however, was what some of us have been saying for a while: America is experiencing drastic demographic changes.

In the election of 2000, not too long ago, white Americans made up 87% of those voting. This past week, that number dropped to 72%! That is 15% in just twelve years. The difference is the growing immigrant populations. In Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia, it was the emerging immigrant populations that made the difference. For example, the second largest city in Colorado is Aurora. The city is now among a number of cities all across the U.S. whose population is over half non-white. In Aurora’s case, there are large populations of Asians, Latinos, eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, and other people from around the world. Along the West Coast, it is the combination of Latino and Asian populations that have turned these states into Democratic strongholds. If we had the same demographics as we did twelve, or certainly twenty years ago, Governor Romney would have won by a landslide.

Whether we like it or not, we must realize that we are a changing America. And those changes will continue, perhaps at even a faster rate than these past twelve years. The United States has now become the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world. That’s right……we have passed up countries like Spain, Chile, and Argentina. Only Mexico is larger. This has profound implications for business, the media, commerce, politicians, and yes, the Church. We live in a changing America.

A question that has been repeatedly asked this past week is why did the immigrant communities vote so overwhelmingly for President Obama. (By the way, we are speaking of those immigrants who have become US citizens. There are still millions of others who are permanent residents or who are undocumented). It was not the economy. I even heard this week a Latino leader state that the Latino population was a better fit for the Republican Party. It was not the economy. It is what they have perceived as an anti-immigrant bias coming from the GOP. While it may be true that much of the political rhetoric stopped after the presidential primaries, and that Governor Romney shifted his stance somewhat on some issues, it was perceived as too little, too late. The big warning this week is that the GOP must embrace and welcome and listen to the immigrant communities. If not, we will cease to have two strong political parties here in the US. No matter where we stand politically, we should recognize that is not good for our country.

Believe it or not, this blog post is not intended to make some political statement or analysis. Rather, it is an appeal to the Church to recognize that we are a changing America. And like the business world, or the political world, we must make the appropriate changes to embrace and welcome and listen. What is so sad, and even grieving to the Lord, is that a large amount of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the past five years or so has come from those who identify with the evangelical Church here in America. While I know that most of the Church would not endorse such things, the Church overall has been silent. That is exactly what happened to the GOP. Many chose to be silent rather than to stand up against the rhetoric. Let the Church not make the same mistake again.

Next week, I will be talking more specifically on the response the Church must have toward the changing demographics in America.

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