Is the Church Positioned to Grow With Africa?
I was emailed an interesting study from the Washington Post giving the projected United Nations statistics of where the world will be in 100 years in population and health.
The projections in this article are comforting and challenging.
Here are the big take-a-ways.
- Africa will quadruple in population with Nigeria becoming the 3rd largest country in the world.
- The majority of Africa’s growth will be Sub-Saharan.
- Life expectancy will grow across the globe.
- US life expectancy is projected to grow from 77 years old to 89 years old.
- Asia’s life expectancy is predicted to grow from from 69 years old to 83 years old.
- Africa’s average life expectancy will dramatically grow from 53 years old to 77 years old.
The Most Impacting Factor
While all of that data is encouraging, the most influential is theDependency Ratio.
A dependency ratio, as I have learned, says there are so many dependent children and elderly to every 100 working adults. (i.e. if it is a 50% dependency ratio then there are 50 children or elderly to 100 working adults.
Currently, 80% of Africa is either under the age of 15 or over 65 years old. To understand the stat, let me simply switch the percentage. Switching the numbers, 20% of Africa between 15 to 65 years old.
Eight of ten people on the continent of Africa are dependent on 2 working adults. This currently is unsustainable. But the future brings hope.
In the next 50+ years, the numbers show a tremendous improvement. By 2060, the dependency ratio drops to below 60%. This means six of ten people will be under 15 or over 65 years old.
What Does this Mean for the Church?
More churches will be needed to reach the growing population.
As the population increases, church planting will become a critical component in reaching the growing cities with the Gospel of Jesus.
Churches will need to innovate as the culture innovates.
Growing cultures mean expanding ideas. The church can choose to grow in innovation or chose to let the culture out pace them. If culture out-paces the church, then the church will struggle to catch up to speaking the language and being effective in communicating the truth of Jesus.
Innovation means an increase in transporting information. People will be using different communication tools that will enable the church to share Jesus’ story with larger groups of people. This will also increase the churches ability to disciple others to follow Jesus in new ways.
Churches will need to have a stronger ministry to the whole family.
Churches will need to expand their ministry influence. Instead of focussing on a target audience, each church will need to expand their reach to an older target as the age expectancy grows.
These are exciting numbers for the church. We need to embrace the future and pray for wisdom to know how to change and pray for courage to set aside our current templates and try something new.
You can read the full article here.