From Jerusalem to Timbuktu; A Global Tour of the Spread of Christianity

In a few weeks, InterVarsity Press will release From Jerusalem to Timbuktu; A Global Tour of the Spread of Christianity. Here is the introduction to the book. Also, I’ve included a link to IVP where it can be preordered. I’d be grateful if you would copy this to others of your FB friends or associates.

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It all started in Jerusalem, the home place of Christian witness. It then moved out into Asia and Europe, and in time elsewhere, but Europe continued for centuries to be the center of gravity. But then, in the twentieth century, the witness of Jesus broke out in new ways. It spread down through Africa, and a renewed form of faith infused Latin America and took hold in Asia. That center of gravity that once hovered over Jerusalem shifted westward, then south, with it now being around Timbuktu.

Today in every corner of the world, to over two billion people, Jesus has gone global.

Each book has a story. This one began years ago as I traveled, working with colleagues internationally, speaking at churches and staff conferences in various parts of the world. But it particularly took hold of me when in 2011, after stepping down as a university and seminary president, I was invited to immerse my life in the Christian community as global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance.

Be it in my home country of Canada or in visiting abroad, I was asked to speak on what I was seeing globally. In study and research, reflection, conversation, and observation, I saw particular forces (or as I note, drivers) at work, growing and reshaping the church. I tested these with missiologists, seeking to fairly and accurately identify what is at work today in our global Christian community.

Many factors impinge on and free up the gospel witness. Much has been written, as is indicated in the bibliography. My interest was to get to the heart of the drivers creating such remarkable growth. As Patrick Johnstone has noted about this period, “Evangelical Christianity grew at a rate faster than any other world religion or global religious movement.”1 In 1960, Evangelicals numbered just under 90 million, and by 2010 that had reached close to 600 million. I wanted to find out who and what they were. I also wanted to see what, within my lifetime, has engaged and continues to engage the reshaping of the church to which I belonged.

My life has been lived in the convictions and practices of an Evangelical community. Raised in the home of a Pentecostal church leader, after university—and for more than fifty years—I served in various Evangelical ministries, all the while building friendships and partnerships with Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and mainline Protestants. However, I know best this Christian communion. In general, my writing concerns itself with the Evangelical world, although occasionally statistics will encompass the entire Christian community.

A number of labels are used to describe this Christian world of “Evangelicals.” I include Pentecostals, as their history and theology is family in the Evangelical community. In some cases, to give emphasis, I use terms such as Evangelical/Pentecostal, or Evangelicals and Pentecostals, as in some countries, Pentecostals make up more than half of Evangelicals.

The shifting force of faith, in a world most often described in materialistic and commercial terms, is a factor that no longer can be denied, be it by a country leader, academic, or social observer. Each year, as more and more people in the Global South embrace Christian faith, the center of density of Christian populations pushes further south, leaving the real (and emblematic) city of Timbuktu toward places never before imagined.

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“While many authors have written ably on the shift of Christianity to the global South, Stiller offers a captivating personal story of remarkable connections with church leaders from all parts of the globe. His expansive vision for the Spirit, the Bible, indigenous Christianity, the public square, and a holistic gospel articulates a clear and hopeful direction for the future of Christianity.”
Todd M. Johnson, associate professor of global Christianity, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Here is a link to the publishers: https://www.ivpress.com/from-jerusalem-to-timbuktu

Brian C. Stiller
Global Ambassador, The World Evangelical Alliance
February 2018

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