Occasionally, I contribute to Answers.com. When I do, it is because I am really bored. This is one of my better answers I guess (although reading it, I probably should clean up the grammar sometime. Link and answer below:
A. The “Southern Shift” of Christianity. Even into the early 1900s, Christianity could justifiably be described as a “European/American” religion (particularly when speaking in terms of Protestantism). But things have changed. There are still some of other faiths who seek to label Christianity in terms of European or North American cultures, but that has long become meaningless. This is seen in several ways.
- The church. There has been a great growth of the church in places such as Sub-saharan Africa, and China (among other places). Some denominations that were very Eurocentric (The Anglican church is a good example) is now centered in adherents in countries that used to be described as “3rd World” and now “2/3 Word”.
- Theology. Christian Theology does not necessarily have a “Made in Germany” stamp on it anymore. Liberation Theology, 3rd Eye, various theologies within the African Independent Churches, Dalit theology, and more are becoming valid voices within Christian thought.
- Missions. Regarding Protestant Missions, the 1700s was dominated by Germany. The 1800s was dominated by England. The 1900s was dominated by the United States. But this new century is completely different. South Korea, Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana, the Philippines, and more are sending out missionaries all over the world. The same can be said within Catholic missions.
- Missions Strategy. The 1915 Edinburgh Conference on Missions was dominated by European and American missionaries, missiologists, and mission organizations/ societies. But times have changed. Not only have more and more missionaries come from 2/3 world countries, but mission organizations and mission strategies are also coming from these countries. The B2J (Back to Jerusalem) movement is a mission strategy born from the young Chinese church. OFW (overseas foreign workers) missionary strategy is being developed by the Philippine church. The Barefooting strategies of many of these organizations and churches vary greatly from those of more traditional churches and agencies.
B. Global Communication and Transportation. Global ease in transportation has produced the Short-term mission movement. This was nearly impossible before transoceanic flights. Ease in communication has created virtual missionaries. Those who minister in the virtual world that many around the world share. Since we are discussing Christian missions within a medium that can be read, analyzed, and edited almost anywhere in the world, this point seems pretty self-evident.
C. Pluralism. The ease of interaction and transportation leads to the interaction of people of different cultures and faiths. This leads to a number of new aspects in missions. First is that cross-cultural missions can happen without leaving one’s neighborhood. The growth of ethnic churches or congregations alongside (and sometimes within) traditional churches is one result. Additionally, missions often focused on unidirectional communication (preaching and teaching) but pluralistic societies lend themselves to more 2-way communication. This can include both apologetics and dialogue. The growth of dialogue (particularly) requires new training and strategies.
- Postmodernity and Christian Missions in Asia: An Essay (davidclemente.typepad.com)