The church in India is facing the same challenges as the church in the U.S. There is a great divide between Convicted Christians and Cultural Christians. Cultural Christians don’t want to make waves, they are so conformed to “normal society” that they no longer bear witness to the truth. Many walk away from the Gospel because they have no Convictions.
Many Christians view their relationship to God in terms of works-based performance and/or experience-seeking encounters. They are caught up in the whirlwind of education and career — two deceptive “gods” of this present age. There’s a veneer of spirituality, and externally there are some signs of health, but truly healthy churches seem a distant dream.
William Carey sparked the modern missionary movement when he set sail for the shores of India in 1793. Today’s India is very different from Carey’s time—sprawling global cities dot the Indian landscape. These urban hubs are melting pots of India’s diverse cultures, languages, and people groups (122 major languages and 1,599 functional languages!) With a population of 1.2 billion, India is the world’s largest democracy. New Delhi, the capital, is the world’s second most populous city with 25 million people. Outside the cities, India’s impoverished rural areas are home to the majority of people groups in the world that have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.
Though we hear a lot of reports of huge crowds coming to know Christ and tens of thousands of churches being planted, the sad reality is that God’s church in India is small. Only 2.3 percent of the population identifies as Christian — and this figure includes many followers of Roman Catholicism and fringe groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism who mix their doctrines with local, Hindu beliefs.
Evangelical Christianity constitutes an extremely small community, mostly concentrated in Southern and Northeast India. And even this small segment of the population is influenced by destructive heresies like the “prosperity gospel” and other false teachings, and many believers are ripped off by corrupt preachers. Despite this bleak picture, there is hope. Jesus is building His church in India and the gates of Hades will not prevail against His work (Matt. 16:18). As always, he has kept for himself men who have not bowed the knee to Ba’al (1 Kings 19:18).