Posts Tagged ‘Statistics’

The Latest Mission Frontiers Magazine

October 8, 2008

So over the 10 hours of traveling from Ohio back to California I was able to read the recent Mission Frontiers issue with the title “Iranian Revolution.” How encouraging it was to read of the rapid growth the indigenous church is experiencing in the midst of extreme persecution and trials. It was especially heart-warming to read that this growth had started decades ago and is continuing on despite major set backs (namely the assignation of major church leaders by the Iranian government). Broadcasts featuring Jesus are being watched by Persians through satellite. In a survey, 70% of Iranian families said they watched Christian satellite programs. The house church movement is spreading incredibly rapidly. “Within two years, a new believer is expected to become a leader of a new house fellowship and a discipler of new leaders.” Praise be to God for expanding His kingdom without the influence of outside help.

What an interesting perspective gleaned from reading the article titled “Mustafa”. First I thought of the Lion King and couldn’t help saying “Mustafa” over and over again in my best hyena voice. In all seriousness, I thought it was a well-done interpretation of experiences with Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) and how difficult it is for “Christians” to accept followers of Christ who still carry their Muslim culture and heritage. I think this carries into the extreme importance of the C4 – C5 debate. How do you as a missionary separate culture and religion? These issues are huge for mission agencies and what they support. Its going on now that American mission agencies are stifling the growth of MBB churches because they don’t see them as fully following Christ.

Continuing this theme of religion and culture, there is a good article on using the name “Allah” contextually for Muslims the same as we use God. Is it syncretism for Allah and God to be one of the same? Are we creating an unnecessary barrier to the gospel by introducing a foreign substituted word to mean God? The article does a great job of examining the word itself as well as looking at some of our own “Christian” words under the same scrutiny. Examples of our words that may not come from the best grounds are the days of the week. Most of the days of the week are named after different Anglo-Saxon gods. Monday was named after Muna, the moon god and Wednesday was named after the god Woden. Some denominations wouldn’t even refer to these days of the week; instead they used first day, second day … All this to say, contextualization is key to unleashing the Bible’s power. The article qutoes Lamin Sanneh, a Yale scholar saying, “in the relevant cases Christian expansion and revival were limited to those societies that preserved the indigineous name for God.” The power of the gospel is found in the ability to communicate its message to people in thier heart language, in a way that is culutrally relevant to them. After they have heard & understood, then can the wrong attributes and shallow view of God can be corrected.


Trends in the North American Mission Movement

October 8, 2008

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

Frontier vs. Regular Part 2

October 8, 2008

Last entry we worked through some definitions and gave some statistics. I wanted to lend my thoughts on the implications of Frontier vs. Regular and what missions means.

I mentioned that the word missions is far too over used. I would go on to say that the word is so over used that it looses its meaning. No one is going to say that their mission is useless and no one is going to condemn another when the generalized term is used to gain approval. Using the previous definitions and the knowledge of the state of the world we must re-gain our focus and really do missions. All of those other “missions” are good, but in order to see that all peoples have a chance to hear and respond to the gospel, we must focus our efforts on those areas completely without access to the gospel.

The question is of strategy. Should we keep sending our resources (people, money, prayer, ect) to places where the gospel is planted and where individuals have an opportunity to explore the scriptures and have someone walk with them the path of faith, or would it be best to send these resources to places that have no witness at all? If I had a dirty house with 10 rooms would I get together all of my friends and spend all of my money just to clean 6 of those rooms over and over and over again, leaving the other 4 rooms dirty? NO, that would make me a bad steward of my house, and I wouldn’t be able to say the house as a whole was clean.

So too with missions. We put so many resources into certain areas, completely neglecting the need for Christ throughout the world. Evangelism is great. We are all supposed to be a part of it. There are not those who are called not to share their faith. Evangelism is not a special calling that you have but a gifting of the Holy Spirit from re-birth. Evangelism should not soften the word missions.

How many new followers to Christ are there everyday in America? In China, about 30,000 people are coming to Christ daily. Can you imagine the impact more resources would have on this place. There are still so many who have not been presented the gospel. Most people in America have heard the gospel, but world-wide, last year alone, 120 million people were presented the gospel for the first time ever. Can you believe that there are that many people today who have not heard the gospel, and that was just one year of first encounters with the Truth.

I hear all the time, “Our mission is right here in the U.S.” Let me preface the remainder of this discussion that God is God and He can call anyone to any task he has, no questions asked. Basically, God can call us to the U.S. for a purpose and that is fine. I think many people use that statement as an excuse. We are all called to witness where we are located, in the communities we are a part. The types of ministries we do here is a strategic choice based God’s gifts. We are not supposed to stay here because it is comfortable or because God has a special calling for us away from these unreached people groups. You can’t stay here unless you are willing to go, but you can’t go unless you are willing to stay. We are all to have a part in the Great Commission. It is a commission for all of us who given our lives to Christ. The question is not does God want me to be involved in spreading his Word throughout the world, but how does He want me to be involved?

So, is it bad for Christians to stay in America? NO, but even those who aren’t called to go overseas should be involved in the kingdom spreading to those who don’t have access to it. Those who stay aren’t doing something else, they are still focused on the unreached and having a huge part of the behind the scenes work. We’ve come up with a list of different roles on how to be involved with frontier missions, only 2 of the 11 are actually leaving the U.S.

I leave you again with the words of the greatest missionary:

For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. “
-Romans 10:13-16

Frontier vs. Regular

January 6, 2008

Missions is a term that can be thrown around easily. Missions is now exchanged for the term “evangelism” and “outreach”. Missions is a budget in the church that goes far too wide and far too shallow. Missions is not just a sector or ministry in the church. Missions IS the purpose of the church. As the church universal we are commanded to take the gospel to where it is currently not. The reason for and the purpose of the church is to worship Christ with everything and bring more worshipers to Christ. It is out of God’s passion for His glory that missions exists (read John Piper’s “Let the Nations Be Glad.” )

A few years back I had thought the division was between lost and saved people here and around the world, and the church just gets people to come to Him wherever they are. The first time I heard about Christ was when I was 15. I knew where churches were, I just wasn’t interested to find out what they were all about. I thought that is how it is all over, churches out there but individuals decide to go or not.

I never realized that there were whole groups of people separated from God, who have no access to His gospel. I found out that there were places where there were no churches. That there were places that people didn’t have the bible translated in their language, places where people are actively searching for someone to tell them the greatest story told, but no one has ever told them. This changed everything.

Missiologists have termed it reached and unreached. Come to find out there are whole sectors of culture termed people groups that are characterized by this reached and unreached zones.

Based on this, here are some definitions:
“missions” that is within our country is called evangelism
“missions” outside our country that is among reached peoples is regular missions
“missions” outside our country that is among unreached peoples is frontier missions

Here are some statistics to make things more real:

  • There are an estimated 24,000 people groups
  • 10,000 of these are considered unreached (most located in 10/40 window)
  • Of our mission personnel, 85% serve in regular missions while only 15% serve in frontier areas
  • Of our finances, 95% of our church dollars goes straight back to us, sending 5% out to missions out side of our country
    • of our missions budget, 90% goes to regular missions with only 10% going to frontier missions
    • Totaled: 99.5% of our money goes to reached areas where people have access to the gospel while 0.5% goes to places that otherwise have no opportunity to hear

I think the church needs to put a little more thought as to what missions is, and what our focus should be. Of course all of these areas are good targets for ministry, but if we are going to focus on missions lets truely and strategically put our efforts into completing the Great Commission.

I leave you with the words of the greatest missionary:

thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
-Romans 15:20-21