Is Christianity Dying? South Korea and Statistics say NO!  

Is Christianity Dying? South Korea and Statistics say NO!   January 29, 2023

Is Christianity dying

It is not a secret that Christianity in the west has been on the decline for quite some time now. Unrelenting cultural forces, tragic historical realities, and a litany of other factors have dampened the old strongholds. However, as discouraging as they are, these trends do not spell disaster for God’s Church as it is seen in its entirety. If anything, the future of Christianity looks brighter than ever.

The Great Commission

In the year 33 AD, Jesus ended his time on earth and ascended to heaven under the watchful eyes of his closest followers. Before departing our plane of existence, he commanded his disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). These words ignited a flame that grew into a raging fire which eventually consumed the world.

From its humble beginnings in Israel, the apostles and early Christians took the Gospel far and wide. Within a single generation, Christianity spread from the back alleys of Jerusalem to the royal courts of Rome. According to legend, they carried the Good News from Spain’s shores to India’s interior. Yet even with all this lightning-fast growth, regions of the globe didn’t receive the message of God’s love for thousands of years. One such nation was South Korea.

History of The Church in Korea

Due to the nation’s isolated geography and closed-off culture, Christianity did not reach Korea in a historically notable way until the 18th century. Interestingly enough, the first missionaries to Korea were Korean themselves. Yi Gwang-Jeong was baptized by a French Jesuit in 1784. After his conversion, he brought the Gospel back to his hometown, where he started the first Christian community. Over the next three hundred years, the Church in Korea saw little growth and several devastating waves of persecution. According to one source, between 1866 and 1886, about 8,000 to 9,000 Catholics were killed, cutting the number of believers in half.

However, their flame was not extinguished from the peninsula, and seeds continued to find their way into good soil. For the next two hundred years, Korean Christians kept living and sharing their faith under the sword of persecution and through a major war with the strongest nations in the world.

Today the Church in South Korea has reached heights its founders may never have imagined. For example, currently, Christians make up around a quarter of the South Korean population. Moreover, according to a 2017 study, Korean churches send out more missionaries than any other country besides the US and Brazil. The Korean World Mission Association estimates that there are currently 22,000 missionaries active worldwide.

South Korea and Nepal

Of these 22,000 missionaries, 300 are spearheading one of the fastest-growing Christian movements in Nepal. According to the BBC, in 2011, there were around 376,000 Christians in the country. However, the latest reports indicate that this number has nearly doubled. The BBC said that the latest estimates concluded that there are around 545,000 Christians in the nation.

The true extent of Christianity’s growth in Nepal is probably best grasped through the words of one of the movement’s most prominent critics.

In an article covering these events, the BBC quotes deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa, who said.

“It’s spreading like wildfire. The cultural identity is at stake. The fabric of the national unity is at stake”

The history of the Korean Church is one of my favorite examples of the power the Gospel has. As it was in the days of the Apostles, all those thousands of years ago, a seed cast seemingly at random landed in a dark place. It found some good soil, was planted, and became a small flame. That flame grew into a roaring fire whose light can be seen all over the world.

A Changing Landscape

For as long as I can remember, believers in the USA have been concerned about American Christianity. Every year or so, there Is a new study forecasting the latest dip in the American Christin population. Now, don’t get me wrong, the downward spiral of Christianity in the States and Europe is a concerning reality that needs serious thought. However, these reports can often make it feel as if Christendom itself is dying, which is just not the case.

On the contrary, the seeds planted by American and European believers during their golden years are now bearing fruit.

According to a study published by pew research, Christendom is expected to see steady growth for the next thirty years. However, the geographical makeup of the world’s largest religion is projected to change dramatically. Pew reports,

The regional distribution of Christians is forecast to change considerably by 2050. Europe is no longer projected to have a plurality of the world’s Christians; in fact, only about 16% of the world’s Christians are expected to be living in Europe as of 2050. In addition, the shares of the global Christian population residing in Latin America and the Caribbean (23%) and North America (10%) are projected to decline modestly.

Despite the decreases in places like Europe, significant growth in other areas of the world will balance the whole thing out.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the size of the Christian population is projected to more than double in the next few decades, growing from about half a billion people in 2010 to more than a billion in 2050.”

Final Thoughts

The kingdom of God is not a fragile thing. Even though it might appear weak in isolated locations, things as trivial as the philosophical whims of culture, persecution, or the endless march of time do not have the power to bring it to its knees. Although the proclamation of the Gospel can sometimes feel like yesterday’s news to us in the west, it’s important to remember that the fields are ripe for harvest; we need to open our eyes and get to work.


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