Area: 8,511,965 sq km
One-half of the land surface and population of South America. The world’s fifth largest country in both area and population.
Population: 195,423,252 Annual Growth: 0.99%
Official language: Portuguese Languages: 193 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Catholics in Brazil number more than in any other country, but the Church itself remains in crisis. The defection rate has slowed, but it continues to lose members to evangelicals, to Spiritists and to non-religion. By 2025, Catholicism could be a minority religion, having held 95% of the population in 1950. Around 70% of ex-Catholics are now evangelicals. Even within Catholicism, only a small minority remain traditionally Catholic and faithful in practice; many others are influenced by Spiritism, nominalism or the charismatic renewal. The grassroots Base Community movement, the engine room of liberation theology, has lost much of its drive, but nearly one million Bible circles persist, hosting studies of Scripture. Pray that the Bible and its truths may mould the lives of Catholics. Other points for prayer:
a) A desperate shortage of priests. Of the current 18,000, many are foreigners. Another 100,000 are needed to meet all the needs; currently there is one priest for every 6,300 Catholics.
b) Increasing loggerheads with the government as the Church loses its preferred status and influence in areas such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality and transgender issues.
c) The charismatic movement grows in strength, numbers and maturity; over 15 million are a part of this.
d) The successes of evangelical denominations have stimulated a more people-friendly, contemporary worship and ministry and a greater growth of evangelical Catholics, as well as an increase in traditional mass attendance.
The emergence of evangelicals in Brazil has been dramatic. Yet despite the growth from 2.9% in 1960 to 26.3% in 2010 there are many prayer needs:
a) Numerical rather than spiritual growth is the emphasis of too many groups, to the point of dishonest inflation of numbers and disregard for discipleship. As a result, churches have multiplied, but congregations are filled with immature, unfed spiritual infants whose faith is overly based on emotionalism, petty legalism and the personality of leaders. Such zeal without maturity leads to spiritual error, nominalism, widespread church-hopping without commitment to a particular church and large-scale backsliding.
b) Prosperity theology has shaped much of Pentecostalism in Brazil, with those on top of the pyramid enjoying celebrity status and lifestyles as well as financial scandals while millions of poor hold out for a miracle of healing or financial blessing. Pray for a right balance between expectation of blessing and daily sanctification.
c) Leadership models are sorely lacking, as witnessed by the scandals and moral failures of some high-profile leaders characterized more by their wealth, power and lack of accountability than their humility and faithfulness. The celebrity bishop model is unsustainable, and there needs to be new ways of shaping and growing leaders who will be well suited for bringing discipleship and societal impact to Brazils evangelicals.
d) Effective appropriate training is a key to addressing the above issues. Rapid growth, especially among Pentecostals, has generated a dearth of trained leaders. With over 200,000 evangelical congregations, traditional education models are inadequate to meet the need. Many are making pastoral training a top priority now; Baptists, Presbyterians and Foursquare are examples of such groups developing new seminaries, TEE programmes and in-service training opportunities. AoG has over 17,000 students on 420 extension campuses, but even this is not enough to meet the need. Pray for wise and creative solutions to this challenge.
e) Unity. Evangelical denominations have mushroomed in the last 20 years as new groups form with almost every theological disagreement or inter-personal conflict. There could be over 4,000 distinct evangelical groups. The success mentality based on numbers and income can induce rivalry and jealousy. Pray for the Evangelical Association of Brazil to be a means of fostering lasting unity, fellowship and prayerful cooperation.
For an additional 10 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Brazil.