Would closing the defection gap lead to more missionaries for the unreached?

One of the diagrams that you drew at the Perspectives class the other day showed the inputs and outputs of people into the kingdom as well as into unbelieving homes. It was a circle that had 3 layers: the unreached, evangelized, and believers if I am not mistaken. One of the numbers that I guess didn’t surprise me, but made me wonder “how can we do better in THAT area” was the output from believers that lose their faith or if one could say “deconvert”. Is this an output that will ever be eliminated? Is that even possible? If this output decreases significantly, would that give the church/believers enough momentum to really tackle the remaining task? Most of these seem hypothetical I guess, but still learning about that output made me sad.

Each year, globally, on average, we have 45 million new babies born to Christian homes. Thanks to Christian mission and evangelism, about 15 million people convert from non-Christian faiths to Christianity. But at the same time, each year, 12 million people defect from Christianity–some to other religions, some to no religion at all. When I cover this in Lesson 9 of Perspectives, it’s always shocking to people, and I often feel a lump of sadness myself.
Defection is, in my opinion, mostly–though not entirely–a function of discipleship. I don’t think it could be entirely eliminated, but I think it could be strongly reduced if we had better discipleship processes for believers.
At the same time, discipleship processes that were strong enough to reduce defection rates ought also to be strong enough to instill a greater passion for the heart of God and obedience to His Word, and this would correlate to rising numbers of mission workers to the unreached. Short answer: yes, I think it would.
Justin Long
If you have a question about missions, email me and I’ll answer it here.