The following data comes largely from Gordon Conwell Seminary’s World Christian Encyclopedia produced by their Center for the Study of Global Christianity as well as The Task Remaining lesson from the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. Take a few minutes to gain a good understanding of where the greatest spiritual need in the world is as well as what percentage of our mission force and finances are going to those parts of the globe.
Basically, the world can be divided into three parts based on how people respond to two questions:
- Do you have access to a Christian witness?
- Are you a Christian?
People that respond “yes” to both questions are considered “World C”. These people are spread out in countries like the United States, Spain, England, Poland, Kenya, Romania, and all throughout Latin America. They have had significant access to the gospel and many people living in these areas would at least claim to be “Christian” even though they may be very nominal or cultural followers of Christ. About 10% of the world’s population is estimated to be true believers while another 23% are at least considered adherents to the Christian faith. So, “World C” has 33% of the world’s population and 72% of the missionaries and 87% of the missions finances.
People that respond “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second question are considered “World B”. These people are spread throughout countries like India, Thailand, Japan, China, Nigeria, and Vietnam. These are people that for the most part have had access to the gospel but have not chosen to embrace it for a many number of reasons. They are what we would call “exposed unbelievers” because they have had a chance to respond to the message. “World B” makes up 38% of the world’s population and 25% of the missionaries and 12% of the missions finances.
People that responded “no” to both questions are considered “World A”. These people live in countries like Iran, Bhutan, Somalia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Algeria. Most of these people have no access to a Christian, a missionary, a church, or a Bible. These guys are virtually unreached and would need an outside witness to come and share Christ with them. We refer to them as “unexposed unbelievers” because they really do not have any chance of hearing about Jesus. “World A” has 28% of the world’s population and 3% of the missionaries and 1% of the missions finances.
So, basically, 1 out of every 40 of our foreign missionaries is serving among “World A” where the majority of the unreached people groups in the world live. We want to change that!
This is the breakdown of missionaries according to religion (the THUMB people – Tribal, Hindu, Unreligious (Chinese), Muslim, Buddhist):
Tribals – 714,108,000 – (9.7% of world population) – 11,900 Missionaries (1 for every 60,009)
Hindus – 984,532,000 – (13.4% of world population) – 5,500 Missionaries (1 for every 179,006)
Unreligious – 831,267,000 – (11.3% of world population) – 11,700 Missionaries (1 for every 71,048)
Muslims – 1,703,146,000 -(23.3% of world population) – 4,200 Missionaries (1 for every 405,510)
Buddhists – 520,002,000 – (7.1% of world population) – 2,000 Missionaries (1 for every 260,001)
There is a lot of talk in the Christian world today about fighting injustice (human trafficking, slavery, AIDS, poverty, etc.) and we believe that those are issues that are near to God’s heart. However…
We think that it is a huge injustice that 2000 years after Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations that only 2.4% of our missionaries are going to the nearly 3 billion people who have never had the chance to hear the Good News of the kingdom for the first time!
There are currently about 6900 of the 16000 people groups in the world that are still considered unreached with the gospel having little to no access to Good News. So, there is still a huge task remaining. However, in the world today there are about 7 million churches meaning that there are approximately 1000 congregations for every unreached people group. If the church would start working together as well as praying, giving, going, and welcoming strategically, we could see all nations reached with the love of Christ in our lifetime!