Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1999

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1999

Article excerpt

The table opposite is the fifteenth in an annual series describing statistics and trends in world mission. Christians in the twentieth century have had at their disposal a rich resource base of technology to proclaim the Good News to all of the earth's inhabitants. Across the world today, for every 1,000 people there are, on average, 342 radios, 220 televisions, 118 telephones, 10 fax machines, and 81 computers. In 1900 no one could have dreamed of such a development. In the century since then, Christians have established 3,770 radio and TV stations with 584 million monthly listeners/viewers (lines 60, 62). As a result of the Christian use of technology, the number of evangelism-hours per year is nearly 50 times greater today than in 1900, and annual disciple-opportunities per capita have increased from 6 in 1900 to 77 today (line 68).

Unfair Distribution of Resources

This remarkable increase in evangelization has only served to accentuate an ongoing problem in Christian mission: grossly unfair distribution of resources (lines 68, 69). The number of individuals who have not heard the Gospel has increased over the century from 813 million to 1,530 million. This must be considered in light of the fact that today the world's population is receiving enough evangelism to be evangelized 77 times over. Multitudes of people are getting far too much evangelism they do not need or want, while the rest of the world gets nothing at all.

A New Look at the Unevangelized

Our analysis of the plight of the unevangelized has been sharpened by a significant adjustment to our methodology this year. In the past, we measured the extent of evangelization at the level of each of the world's 240 sovereign and nonsovereign countries. We are now measuring the evangelism that takes place within each of the world's 13,000 ethno-linguistic peoples. The number of individuals evangelized in a country is the sum of the number evangelized within each of its peoples. This new method reveals even greater imbalance in Christian resource distribution. For example, whereas a country might be receiving twice as much evangelism as it needs to evangelize its population, when this effort is measured at the level of a hundred smaller units (peoples), one finds that the majority of the effort is going primarily to already Christian or heavily evangelized peoples. The result: far more individuals within a country remain unevangelized than would be the case with a demonstrably strategic distribution of evangelization.

Christian Use of Technology

What about the future? Technological advances continue to offer astounding opportunities for Christians to evangelize. This year the first global satellite system for cell phone use has been set in place. Although initially expensive, in the near future it will be possible for one to telephone no matter where one is on the planet. Another development is the growth of the Internet. It is already dominated by Christians, who number 80 percent of its users: this means 40 million have computers today, and 400 million Christians will be on-line by A.D. 2001. The question remains unanswered: how much use will Christians make of the Internet for world evangelization? Today, the vast majority of Christian web pages are visited only by Christians. Additionally, only 2 percent of the world's 4 billion non-Christians have any chance of ever accessing the Internet. Consequently, though opportunities for new evangelism abound, our projection for the total of unevangelized in 2025 is still more than 20 percent of the world's population, or 1. …

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