Missions Statistics

At Passion Life, we commonly share a statistic that strikes most people as being very surprising. That statistic is that of all the abortion that takes place in our world each year, only about 3% takes place in the United States. Now that is a conservative figure. That means that 97% of the world’s abortions every year take place outside the United States. We need as many North American Christians to think of that 97% as a mission’s challenge.

I was talking with somebody recently who was making the case that Christians do not need to go out and do things for God. They do not need to go on missions. What we need to do is know Him and worship Him and be in His presence. All of that is the most important thing in the Christian walk. My answer to this is yes and also no. We need to be in God’s presence and to know him and to learn to worship him because we are going to do that forever. But if it’s true that part of our existence is to not only know God, but to make Him known around the world, then it seems to me that it is helpful to take statistics and use them to help motivate how we prioritize the way we live our personal ethic out among the people in our world.

Today I want to share with you a little bit about mission’s statistics In general. The statistics I am going to be sharing come from a conglomeration of source materials like the Joshua Project, the traveling team.org, IMB statistics all of which are easy to find online. If you think about the world and all the peoples in it, you have to agree that God has a heart for all the peoples of the nations. You really can’t read the Bible without coming to the conclusion that God is not the God of any one type or culture of people, but that He wants to be known and wants to make His glories known among all the peoples.

We see in Revelation people from every tribe, tongue, language, people, group and nation worshiping around the throne of the Lamb. And we realize that when Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached as a testimony among all nations, and then the end will come.” Well, my interpretation of that, which may be different from some others, is that God is watching as He uses His people to preach the gospel among the peoples of the Earth. When the last of the elect that He has ordained to be brought in from among these different cultures, tribes and peoples comes in, then the end will come. Jesus will come back and bring us to the new Heaven and the new earth.

Missiologists define, as best they can, these ethnolinguistic minority groups around the planet to help us kind of prioritize how we are going to work. Most of them agreed that there are somewhere north of 17,000 groups of people in the world. That is people who, because of culture or ethnic identity or or linguistic identity, consider themselves a group of people and everyone else in the world as outsiders.

So, for instance, you can’t think of Colombia, South America as a nation that God wants to reach. You have to think of Colombia as having hundreds of ethnolinguistic minority people groups living within those borders. You have to think not just of Spanish as being a minor language group. You have to think of all the minority people groups that speak Spanish within that umbrella who need to be reached with the gospel.

Right now, missiologists generally estimate that about 7,500 of those are yet to be reached with the gospel. So around 10,000 have been reached and 7,500 remain unreached. What do we mean by unreached? Unreached is generally agreed upon to mean that less than 2% of that population of people are Christians. They really don’t have a good chance of reaching their own people group with the gospel. It’s just too few, too underrepresented. Once that people margin hits and the number of believers grows above 2%, then there is a good fighting chance that those people can share the gospel with their own people group. In order to get to that point, they need help from outside.

About 7,500 unreached people groups are left on the planet. The bad news about that statistic is that the easiest ones have been reached. If this man, that I was having this conversation with earlier this week, is correct that just being still and living where you are and not going out or doing anything for God then evidently, God is calling 99.9995% of all Christians to live among the most evangelized people on the planet. He is calling statistically 0.0005% of evangelical Christians to go somewhere to share the gospel with people who do not know Him or who are unreached with the gospel.

Trying not to get too deep in the weeds here, I want you to be able to understand these statistics as they come out of my mouth. There are not a lot of missionaries among evangelical Christians who are living with unreached peoples in the world. It is rare enough that people decide to give themselves up to the service of God in full-time missions. But for every 30 people who go from North America into full-time missions only 1 in those 30 will go to an unreached people group.

For instance, there’s about one Christian missionary for every 400,000 Muslims on the planet today. It sounds to me that we need more Christians to go as missionaries to our Islamic brothers and sisters to share the good news of Jesus among those peoples. Only one of every 210,000 people who becomes a Christian will become a missionary to the unreached. That literally means that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of becoming a missionary to unreached people in this world.

Claude Hickman is the executive director of the traveling team. He says that there are more than 3000 times the finances among Christians that would be needed to reach the world for Christ if you were to monetize church planting the way it has been and just kind of prorate it out.

We have more than 3000 times the financial resources that we need to finish the Great Commission in our lifetime. We have more than 9,000 times the manpower that would be necessary to go out and reach those last 7,500 people groups with the gospel than we actually need. We just need to learn to prioritize how we invest in missions better. Moving on just specifically to money. If you think about all the money that Christians make in the world, if you take all of the annual income of all the evangelical Christians on the planet, I want to say it’s somewhere in the $800 trillion range.

Claude Hitman also says, imagine a ballroom with a 50 foot ceiling. You take the space between the ceiling and the floor to represent all of Christian income in the world. With the amount of money that Christians make, you would have to get down on your hands and knees and stack two bills to represent the amount of money that Christians tithe off of that income.

In other words, Christians do not tithe the 10% that the Bible indicates we should be tithing in general. I think, statistically, we are giving somewhere around 1.5% of all Christian income to Christian causes. Then you would have to say, “Well, how much of that tithe is going to reach the unreached people groups in the world?” To be able to measure that in a room with 50 foot ceilings, you would have to take those same two bills and stack them on top of each other to find out.

How much of Christian income is going to reach the most unreached people with the Gospel of Christ? About half a millimeter of that 50 foot ceiling is going to reach the unreached. About 94% of Christian giving in churches goes basically to local church ministry. About 6% of what is given to churches goes into missions of some sort. The vast majority of local missions are feeding the poor and doing food drives as well as investing in Christian ministries within the community. I do not think that there is anything wrong at all with investing missions dollars locally, but of the 6% that goes into missions, 88% of those missions dollars will remain within 10 miles of the offering plate into which they were given. In other words, it is not making it very far around the globe.

Roughly 1.7% of all Christian giving makes it its way to the unreached peoples in the world. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. If you think that God, in some sense, has left us here to know Him and to make him known, then we have a lot of work to do. That does not burden me. That does not shame me. That does not make me feel oppressed by the numbers. It invigorates me, it challenges me. It makes me want to invest myself well and prioritize what I do well. At Passion Life, we are really aiming our effort and our focus at the 97% of abortions that are taking place outside the borders of the United States. We feel good about honing our focus on that 97%.
I think we have 21 different languages posted on the passionlife.org website in which people around the world can go to find and download free resource materials to be able to teach their own people about the abortion rates within their country. Those 21 languages that we have comprise somewhere around 52%, if my math is right, of the world’s population ability to access PassionLife’s materials for free. Almost 52% of the world can use them to talk about abortion from the Bible in their communities. We feel good about that. We want to expand that. We want there to be more resources in more languages.

Of course, Mandarin Chinese accounts for about 18% of the world’s population, so that was an easy one for us to translate into Mandarin Chinese and get disseminated out there. But with English and Spanish and some of these major languages that we have already translated our materials into, a lot of the people in the world can access our materials. We also have a few small pockets of languages like Amharic and Ethiopia that can use our materials because we have translated them into that language. We have translated our materials into Kamai, the Cambodian language, into Vietnamese and minority Vietnamese languages like Hmong. We have our materials for people like that.

Perhaps these statistics motivate you the same way they do me. They make you say, “Hey, God, how can I invest my mission’s dollars? How can I invest my pro-life dollars in a meaningful, strategic way?” Well, one way that you can do that is to help us translate more of our materials into foreign languages. Majority language groups that can be used in larger and larger swaths of our planet. We have a vision for continuing beyond 21 languages and into dozens of other languages over the next few years. We need people like you to help us come in and do that. We need people like you to help us connect with people in minority language places and areas with Christians wo would invite us to come work on the abortion statistics in the churches within those areas. Join us at Passion Life in this way. You can find us at passionlife.org. We would love to count you among our many partners.