In A Current Snapshot of North American Protestant Workers (January 2011, International Bulletin of Missionary Research), my friend and mentor Dr. Scott Moreau of Wheaton College presents an excellent analysis of the current distribution of workers, especially in the 10/40 Window. In the 2008 figures, 38.8% are deployed to Christianized countries, 8.9% are “unspecified,” 47% are to World B countries, and 5.4% are to World A countries.
The “unspecified” numbers are quite interesting. These were very high in 2001 (29%) but much smaller later (9% in 2005, and likewise in 2008). The “unspecified” numbers are very likely for the most part unspecified because of security concerns. It is unlikely that those unspecified workers would be deployed in Christian countries. Further, I hypothesize that the majority of the 9% or so unspecified in 2005 and 2008 are in fact in World A countries because of the significant decline in the % points between 2001 and 2005. In 2001, 29% were unspecified and 35% were in World B (heavily evangelized, majority non-Christian countries—this category includes Russia, China and India). In 2005, there were 9% unspecified and 50% in World B – a drop of 20 percentage points in the unspecified and a rise in World B of 15 percentage points. About equal. So for my money, it’s probable that a significant amount of the remaining 9% are in hard core World A countries—but not all. I suspect some of the unspecified are unspecified because they are in China.
Regardless, given these stats, I would feel very comfortable with saying that about 10% of full-time workers are probably working in the unevangelized world – not 1% as the old stat had it. This represents a very good rise in the numbers and is borne out by some of the things I’ve been hearing at meetings like Finishing the Task and from networks-that-shall-remain-nameless-yet-focus-on-very-sensitive-groups-of-people-and-use-names-referring-to-a-verse-in-the-Bible. (LOL!)
This study, of course, only applies to US workers. However, US-sent missionaries are the biggest piece of the foreign cross-cultural worker pie. The 2nd largest would be the Koreans, but in my experience they probably lean more to deployments in the unevangelized world than even the Americans do. Other senders would include Europeans (likewise in many hard-to-reach places) and then Majority World and more-local workers (such as Nigerians reaching into North Africa): these for obvious reasons would be likewise working broadly amongst unevangelized peoples. So I think the 10% number would certainly hold true at a global level, too—and perhaps be a bit higher.
Nevertheless, 10% is still not really enough nor balanced. But I *am* very heartened by the increase in deployments to the heavily-evangelized majority non-Christian “World B”.
Can anyone else out there pick apart my logic? It looks sound to me, but I welcome feedback!
(BTW – if you want to learn about missions “on the cheap”, use my online School of Missions. If you want to go to my alma mater, go to World Christian Foundations–a great distance education option with terrific books and insights. If you want to attend an incredible school with great teachers and f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c food, go to Wheaton College. It’s a “bit” more expensive–but worth it! And no, they’re not paying me for that little bit of advertising… I’m just impressed enough with all of the above to mention them.)
ADDENDUM: I’m amazed at how far and fast this post has been recommended – Thank you! A couple of clarifications that I should put in here:
1) Remember that the 10% figure is for US workers. I’m pretty sure (for the reasons stated above) that 10% would apply globally (perhaps higher) but I wouldn’t rely on that has a stable measuring stick.
2) This is an assessment based on deployments to specific countries – not to people groups. So if a worker happens to work amongst an unreached group in a World C country (e.g. among Algerians in, say, England) then he would count in the World C figures, not in the World A/B figures. And, it’s also possible that someone would be working among a largely evangelized or even Christian group within an unevangelized country. This possibility sometimes occurs with, for example, folks working in support roles among churches in a restricted-access country (e.g. Indonesia comes to mind), or when a missionary from one ethnic group goes to work amongst his ethnic group in another country (e.g. a Filipino evangelist ministering to Filipinos in a restricted-access country). But these numbers probably cancel each other out. They wouldn’t be a substantial portion of the whole, anyway, and would really only apply at the global level, not at the US-specific level. (Right?)