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Our Global Families

Christians Embracing Common Identity in a Changing World

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There is an increasing awareness of global interconnectedness. As Christians, we belong to not only a diverse global Christian family but also a diverse human family. In this volume Todd Johnson, a noted expert on global Christianity and world missions trends, and Cindy Wu show how divisions within these families work against our desire to bring about positive change in the world. They provide an overview of global Christian identity, exploring how we can be faithful to our own tradition while being generous and engaging with Christians across denominations, be better informed about and form significant friendships with people of other religions, and be more realistic about our ability to solve the world's problems. The book utilizes the latest research data on global Christianity and world religions and includes tables, graphs, charts, and end-of-chapter discussion questions.


Our Global Families: Introduction
Part One: Our Changing World
1. Meet Your Global Christian Family
2. Meet your Global Human Family
3. It's a Small World, after All
Part Two: Our Changing Identity
4. We Are Family
5. We Are Global
6. We Are Local
Part Three: Our Changing Relationships
7. Solidarity with Christians
8. Solidarity with Others
9. Love Thy Neighbor
Part Four: Changing Our World
10. What We Can't Do
11. What We Can Do
Small Group Discussion Questions


"Plenty of books discuss the process of globalization and the related spread of Christianity to all corners of the world. But I don't think any other book has presented these stories within the framework of family--the Christian family worldwide and the broader human family. The authors ask what would happen if Christians actually took seriously the language of brotherhood and sisterhood. How would we seek to change ourselves and change the world? Our Global Families is a thoughtful, provocative, and deeply rewarding book."

Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of history, Baylor University; author of The Next Christendom

"Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu have usefully underscored the great fact of Christianity's dramatic recent spread around the world. But they have also gone further with sage writing about what should be done with this fact. Their insights, cautions, wise words, careful theology, and practical advice make for a book that deserves careful attention from a wide readership."

Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame; author of From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian's Discovery of the Global Christian Story

"For years we have read statistics about the rise of the global church, but here we have a stellar introduction to these realities that makes this phenomenon personal. Behind the numbers we are discovering the family of God in new and profound ways. At a time when we often hear stories of how divided the world and the church are, it is refreshing to discover this deeper connectedness that is emerging in the church. This volume also helps us to move past the 'let's-change-the-world' drumbeat, to a deeper appreciation of the transforming power of our 'faithful presence' in the world. Our Global Families is the best introduction to global Christianity you will find. I heartily recommend it."

Timothy C. Tennent, president, professor of world Christianity, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Johnson and Wu have presented world Christianity in all of its diversity, pointing the way to greater unity in hospitality and grace. More than just a description, this volume outlines ways forward for Christians to make a difference in a world filled with poverty and despair."

Scott W. Sunquist, dean and professor of world Christianity, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This excellent book provides a much needed reality check for Western Christians, joyfully reminding us that the diversity of the Christian global family is rapidly increasing. Using mountains of credible social science data, Johnson and Wu present a well-researched yet accessible argument that today's Christians should abandon their ethnically and culturally homogenous enclaves and step out toward the diverse Christian global family. By rightly presenting the family of God as a global people, Our Global Families goes beyond simply describing the changing social landscape to offer compelling reasons for and action steps toward forging a common identity with Christians around the globe. I highly recommend this book for pastors, lay leaders, students, and practitioners who want to experience the fullness of the family of God."

Christena Cleveland, associate professor of reconciliation studies, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota; author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart

"A winsome message calling us to embrace our global Christian identity and our place in the whole human family. This book beckons us beyond the narrow, parochial worlds we have created for ourselves and into the future world being created by God."

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, author of From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church; general secretary emeritus, Reformed Church in America

"I am excited about this book. The last decade has seen an amazing increase in scholarship regarding contextualized theology, helping us understand the complexity and diversity of the global church and our faith. This is a good thing. However, in studying our differences Christians around the world are in danger of forgetting all the things that unite us into a single body. Our Global Families is a wonderful reminder not only of the eternal commonalities that we share as Christians, but also provides a blueprint for life in community both inside the church and out in the world. Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu have done the global church a wonderful service."

Michael Oh, executive director/CEO, The Lausanne Movement

The Authors

  1. Todd M. Johnson

    Todd M. Johnson

    Todd M. Johnson (PhD, William Carey International University) is director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity and associate professor of global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He is also...

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  2. Cindy M. Wu
    © Cindy Cheng Photography

    Cindy M. Wu

    Cindy M. Wu (MA, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) has served in church-planting contexts in China, Mexico City, Houston, and Boston. She lives in Houston, Texas.

    Continue reading about Cindy M. Wu


"Johnson and Wu's call for Christians to reaffirm solidarity with the global human family is a timely, prophetic cry. . . . [The authors] present world Christianity, in spite of its acknowledged divisions, as having the opportunity of being an agent of healing in a critical day. Their broad and hopeful vision of holistic transformation is relevant to Christians in every walk of life. Our Global Families brings together theological, cultural, demographic, and historical strands of the contemporary discussion of the future of world Christianity, weaving them together in a compelling presentation of how the global Christian family is called to be part of the mission of God for the sake of humanity and for the glory of God."

Andrew F. Bush,

Christian Scholar's Review

"This book is an excellent introduction for Western Christians seeking to develop cultural sensitivity. It will help pastors and professors at Christian institutions hoping to educate their congregations and students. The discussion guide could be used in multi-cultural settings. . . . This book can help those of us in the West listen to learn from our global family."

Grant Miller,

Asbury Journal

"A work that is both scholarly and practical, making people aware of the impact of globalization while equipping them to respond from the framework of family. . . . Johnson and Wu build a firm theological foundation that both encourages and equips people to foster life-giving unity in our Christian and global families. I found the strength of the book to be in its use of Scripture and evangelical values to support engagement with other Christian denominations and religious beliefs. . . . The authors' framing and discussion of the issues reveal that, though the book is introductory, the knowledge that undergirds their arguments is nuanced and complex. On this account, Our Global Families is appropriate for a foundational seminary course, people beginning to engage outside of their theological tradition, or individuals seeking a viable framework for ecumenical activities or interfaith dialogue. It offers an accessible introduction for Christians to work across theological divisions to continue Christ's work of unity, justice, and peace of the world."

Megan E. Lietz,

Africanus Journal

"This collaborative title by an academic expert on global Christianity and his former student with practical experience in church planting moves us a step beyond Philip Jenkins' significant study on the globalization of the Christian faith. . . . The authors plausibly argue and effectively illustrate how Christians belong as fully to the human family as they do to the Christian family. . . . Lucidly coherent in structure, current on major trends and developments, and engagingly written, this work is especially suited for broadening the horizons of Christian congregations. Its use in a competently led group discussion would be very beneficial in many contexts where Christians typically focus attention and energies on their local situations and interests. The book would be beneficial reading for most thoughtful Christians on an individual basis as well. . . . Concrete suggestions for becoming involved in addressing contemporary global issues are instructive. . . . This is a book well worth purchasing, reading reflectively, and discussing among contemporary Christians who take their faith seriously."

James A. De Jong,

Calvin Theological Journal

"The book's visionary and positive tone is remarkable considering the topic's tendency to overwhelm. . . . The authors dare to ask questions without easy answers and make them come alive with real life examples from around the world. . . . In the end, the mission is God's, and the authors' ability to maintain that point is really what makes their confidence believable--and contagious. . . . That kind of confidence can often be mistaken for naïveté. Whether it is grounded in wishful thinking or in God's possibilities makes all the difference."

Maria Hosler Byler,

Anabaptist Witness