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Where Is The Light?

Jan 23, 2013

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SEVEN BILLION. That’s a pretty big number. Seven billion of anything is worth taking a look at, right?

 

What would you do with 7 billion extra US dollars to spend?

What would you do with 7 billion extra seconds (=250 years) to live out?

What would you do with 7 billion extra channels on cable TV to watch?

 

The world population has now increased to over 7 BILLION.

Chart 1

 

One-third of the world population is identified as Christian in faith and/or culture. Two-thirds are not. That’s nearly 4.8 billion individuals who do not confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, do not read the Bible and do not have a direct, personal contact with the Christian one-third minority. Yes, on the world-wide scale, Christians are a minority group. The main reason for that is that the vast number of the non-Christian majority have not even heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have never even seen a Bible and have no real clue as to what a Biblically-based Christian community is truly about.

 

Larry Stockstill, in his book The Surge: A Global Church-Planting Initiative (published 2012, www.surgeproject.com), describes how he pictured in his mind the magnitude of the task in reaching 4.8 souls with the Gospel:

 

“One Sunday afternoon I was sitting in my study and preparing a message for our church on the vastness of the world harvest. Suddenly the thought of a single-file line representing the lost of the world popped into my mind. If I were to line up the 4.8 billion lost people so closely that even a piece of paper could not fit between them, how far would that line stretch?

After a few moments of computation, I discovered something astounding. Much to my surprise, the line would first stretch from my pulpit in Baton Rouge all the way to the eastern seaboard. Then it would bridge the Atlantic and reach all the way to Europe and Asia. From there it would bridge the Pacific, come back in on the western coast of America, cross Texas, and reenter the door of my church. This would compose one revolution around the entire world, but it would not begin to account for the vast number of lost people. The last person in line would have to shake hands with the first person, then the line would have to go out the door again – two times, five times, ten times, fifteen times, twenty times, thirty times, thirty-six times around the entire planet – in order to properly account for the 4.8 billion lost souls on earth. I sat stunned at the magnitude of people destined for an eternity apart from God.” (Introduction page ix)

 

*Here is a chart showing the growth of the three largest religions in the world: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism:

Chart 2

 

Christianity, the largest religion in the world, is still a minority group compared to the world population. Here is a breakdown of Christianity according to it's main communities:

Chart 3

 

**Did you know that…

  • 74% of Christians are consumers: nominal and inactive in the local Christian communities, in the outreach ministry of their local churches, much less with any involvement with foreign missions. Their focus is personal consumption.
  • 26(-)% of Christians are supporters: aware of the spiritual needs of their community, and are active to some degree in supporting their local church events and volunteering at outreach programs. They are likewise involved, to some degree, in supporting foreign missions.

Why the minus (-) after the 26 percentage? The minus (-) represents those who are leaders (salaried or not), who initiate, develop and manage the ministries and outreaches of the Church.

If you thought the 7 BILLION was a really big number to wrap your brain around, try to capture the smallness of the (-) compared to the 7 billion in your understanding. So let’s break down the minus (-):

  • (-)% equals .0023% of all Christians.
  • Explanation: Out of 2,376,000,000 Christians world-wide, there are around 5,500,000 church leaders.

CHART 5

 

HOME MISSIONS: PASTORAL - 72% OF CHURCH LEADERS (3,969,000)

Pastoral church workers are clergy, pastors, teachers, ministers, chaplains, bishops, administrators, preachers, parish workers, theologians, church staff, etc., basically, everyone (salaried/non-salaried) involved in the ministries of the local church within their own home nation and culture.

About 4 million of the 5.5 million church leaders are primarily occupied with two things:

  1. Satisfying the consumers’ satisfaction levels so they will keep coming back to sample what the church has to offer.
  2. Inspiring and motivating supporters with the vision and challenge of serving primarily the consumers.

HOME MISSIONS: CULTURAL EVANGELISM - 17% OF CHURCH LEADERS (925,000)

Home missionaries are focused on evangelistic outreach and/or church planting to people of their own culture within their home country.

HOME MISSIONS: CROSS-CULTURAL EVANGELISM - 4% OF CHURCH LEADERS (210,000)

Cross-cultural home missionaries are focused on evangelistic outreach and/or church planting in their own home country to people of other cultures.

FOREIGN MISSIONS: EQUIPPING FOCUS - 5% OF CHURCH LEADERS (306,800)

Missionaries serving and equipping established churches in a foreign nation. Their focus is to strengthen and supplement the local churches and believers in a foreign nation with the goals of maturing the local believers and raising up national leadership in the various minstries.

FOREIGN MISSIONS: PROJECT FOCUS- 1.8% OF CHURCH LEADERS (103,000)

Missionaries who initiate and/or manage projects within a non-Christian community in a foreign nation. Their activities are literature and media translation, digging water wells, medical clinics, orphanages, humanitarian help, etc.

FOREIGN MISSIONS: CHURCH-PLANTING FOCUS - .2% OF CHURCH LEADERS (10,200)

Missionaries whose focus is pioneering new churches among non-Christians in a foreign nation.

BOTTOMLINE: 1 church-planter for every 470,588 non-Christians in the world.

 

*Annual statistical table Status of Global Mission (GordonConwell) **World Christian Trends (William Carey Library, David Barnett & Todd Johnson)