These so-called “garage churches” have popped up in poor suburbs across Latin America, catering to communities that have been pushed to the periphery. Many of the pastors are local indigenous leaders.
According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of Latin Americans were Catholic in 1970, but that has dropped to 69%. Protestant congregations, on the other hand, are growing. The Pew data shows protestants were at 4% in 1970 and are currently at 19%.
What do you think is the reason for evangelical churches increasing in these areas, while the Catholic church seems to be decreasing? I’m not looking to get into a debate over the issue, or even a conversation. Just curious.
Please don’t take offense to this, but in my view its because most Evangelical faiths are easier… A significant number of them have become severely lax on moral issues while the Catholic Church has remained constant. Protestant faiths are largely intent and keeping with the times, whereas Catholicism refuses to bow down to immoral cultural norms.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been failings on the part of the Church. There was a particular form of “theology” that became prevalent in Central America which was really not in keeping with what the church actually taught. (I believe it was know as Social Justice Theology). The split on this issue caused a lot of people to leave the Church, and it continues to have repercussions even today.
Evangelical missionaries from the US primarily, go there to “save the people”. They bring with them their American ideals and culture and its new, unique, and exciting to the people.
The missionaries are well intentioned but mistaken. Often viewing catholics as not Christian and in need of being saved.
Sadly, that view is not completely inaccurate due to the extremely poor catechesis of the last 70 years.
I’d be curious to know the state of catechesis and apologetics. Perhaps since evangelical Protestants are part of the mystical Body of Christ, the Church may not see the loss of Catholic faithful to these churches as a threat?
We have a few ex-catholics at my church. A common thing several of them say is that they were never taught about Christ in the catholic church. What they experienced growing up was all about saying the right words during mass with no understanding what it meant
36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.
Those who sowed the seed are blessed even though they were not the ones who harvested the crop of the faithful. Maybe they didn’t “hear” the Gospel in their reasoning minds, but the seeds were sown in their hearts regardless.
That’s a good point, which I’ve seen in some of my older friends who were raised Catholic. They didn’t attend Evangelical churches, but did come to have faith in Christ through Evangelicals, and I’ve encouraged them to return to involvement in their CC.
Where it gets different, though, IMO, is when a cradle Catholic leaves the CC after poor teaching on their CC’s part, comes to have their own faith by means of a non-Catholic church while dating a non-Catholic, marries a non-Catholic and goes to their spouse’s church, raising their family there and sending down their own roots into that non-Catholic community.
I actually missed the article, didn’t see it there, but it doesn’t change my statement. I answer based on experience going to Mexico as a missionary as well as talking immensely with friends who were missionaries for 20 years in Argentina. This all started 50 -70 years ago and is only now taking off.
The missionaries would go and gather small groups of converts to evangelicslism forming a small house church. I know of another missionary in Belgium utilizing this same strategy. As the small house church grows they plant new churches, not with the missionary as pastor but with one of their local converts as pastor. This process continues long after the missionaries are gone.
These locals didn’t become evangelicals in a vacuum.
Jon—I’m not disagreeing that missionaries went first; of course they did, and that’s been the mode of evangelization for the CC, too, just centuries earlier. But these Evangelical churches aren’t “Americanized” or flashy, as you said they were. Here’s the article again.
Well the thing is it’s an American form of evangelicalism. That’s where it comes from. Maybe not american flags in the church, but it is an american flavor for sure. When I mentioned flashy I had the growth of mega churches in Guatemala on my mind.
In the statement that bolded and underlined to me I find these people a bit lazy for a lack of a better term. Why did they not take a proactive approach to learning their faith instead of being spoon fed everything? I do not get it. It seems everyone wants the easy path and when the path seems a little rough they divert to whatever the flavor of the month is. what ever happened to taking responsibility for ones self. Sorry just my opinion.
There is a very interesting thing about these protestant groups. They start small with very close relationships between the members based on their faith, they are friends because they are Christians and members of the same group, they know each other very well, they sincerely discuss everything and share information, they help each other. Each group is a Church and everybody knows each other. There are no loners. A person persisting in wrong ideas or doings ends up excluded from the group. When the group outgrows then a part is split under another preacher.
Really, it is very attractive.
But the same pew forums come out with stats showing that Evangelicalism is the least likely to tolerate homosexual marriage among its members, or support abortions. So I can’t really agree with you. It seems that those in Latin America who are/become Evangelical are more likely to not have secular values; statistically speaking.
Because that’s how the 1st Century Church operated.