Trends in the North American Mission Movement

Friday morning we had a seminar from Michael Jaffarian. He is a global mission researcher and collaborates on Operation World as well as the Mission Handbook. He revealed a couple of interesting statistics this morning that I wanted to pass along. (Note: data was taken 2005).

  • In the U.S. & Canada, there are 822 agencies who receive $6 billion annually. While this is a lot of money, $15 billion is spent on pet products and $50 billion is spent on toiletries and cosmetics.

Numbers of North American missionary involvement:

  • 43,000 long term missionaries (those whose length of service is expected to be more than four years)
  • 8,000 middle term missionaries (those whose length of service is from one to four years)
  • 150,000 short term missionaries (those whose length of service is from two weeks up to one year)
  • 1.5 million mission-trip participants (those whose length of service is up to two weeks; as opposed to other missionaries, this category contains mainly those who go through a local church and not necessarily through a mission agency)
  • Noted that strong growth in mission-trip participants and short term missionaries has not yielded increase long term missionaries

Agency Focus

  • For every mission agency mainly devoted to relief/development (DEV), there are about five devoted to evangelism/discipleship (EVG)
  • 18 to 1 ratio of missionary sent through agencies focus on EVG rather than DEV
  • Total money donated to DEV mission agencies greater than total money donated to EVG mission agencies.
  • Seven out of the top ten and four out of the top five largest American mission agencies (by income) are DEV
  • Income growth between 2001 – 2005:
    – EVG: 2.7%
    – DEV: 74.3%

  • Noted rapid growth in national workers financially supported by North American mission agency dollars
  • Now for every American missionary sent and supported, there are two national workers being supported

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