The worldwide Church

Visualisation to show the work of the global church: charity, mission and evangelism.

Mission, evangelism and church growth

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told his disciples that they should spread his message throughout the world and should try to convert people to Christianity.

Missionaries spread the Christian message abroad, not necessarily through preaching but through their actions - for example, helping with charity projects. This is how Christianity as it is known today has spread across the globe.

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Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.Matthew 28:19

Evangelism involves converting people to Christianity. It often goes hand in hand with the activities of missionaries. Some Christians feel that they should take on this role in order to help people discover their real purpose in life.

While some evangelists tell people about God directly, others try to show God’s love through their actions. For example, Gideons International, an association of Evangelical Christians, donates copies of the Bible to hotels and hospitals in the UK and around the world.

Christianity has been the largest world faith in Europe for a long time, so today its spread in Europe is slow. However, there is rapid growth in South America and Africa, where missionaries have spent time working for social justice and setting up churches.

Tearfund

Tearfund has been working in Ethiopia since the 1970s. It began by creating groups in order to make the country more self-sufficient. It has also provided emergency aid following droughts.

In Zambia, Tearfund has focused on teaching skills to local people, such as how to plant crops to produce a large amount of food.

In Myanmar there has been a large focus on healthcare, and Tearfund has set up a training centre so that local people can be trained to deliver medical care in their local communities. Over 480 people have been trained as community health workers with a knowledge of medication and basic disease-prevention techniques.

Persecution of Christians past and present

Throughout history, Christians have faced persecution. Today, although Christianity is the most widely practised religion worldwide, there are still many places around the world where Christians are in a minority.

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In some countries, Christians face discrimination, including physical punishment and death sentences, for practising their faith.

The charity Open Doors seeks to raise awareness of Christian persecution. It campaigns for the human rights of Christians to be respected throughout the world.

Ecumenism and reconciliation

Reconciliation is very important for Christians. Christians believe that Jesus was the ultimate example of reconciliation, because his sacrifice healed the broken relationship between God and humanity. So, following Jesus’ example, Christians believe that reconciliation is something everybody should aim for.

Ecumenism refers to the idea of creating greater unity and closeness between the different denominations of Christianity.

Ecumenical Movement

The Ecumenical Movement began in 1910 at the World Missionary Conference in Scotland. It aims to unite all Christian denominations into one Church. This means that all Christians should be united in faith in Jesus and that there should be no denominations or other divisions between them.

The work of the Ecumenical Movement has led to greater co-operation between different Christian denominations. For example, some denominations share the same church building. Ecumenical services, where Christians of many denominations worship together, are growing in popularity.

World Council of Churches

The ultimate aim of the World Council of Churches is to unite all Christians as one Church. Churches involved in this effort, which spans over 100 countries, hold a special week of prayer devoted to Christian unity every year. During this week, Christians remember Jesus’ teaching that all of them may be one … so that the world may believe (John 17:21).

The World Council of Churches runs many campaigns to promote unity and end prejudice or discrimination between different Christian denominations. It also works with other faiths.

Question

What is ecumenism?

The idea of bringing all Christian denominations together as one united Church.

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