Things I Learned: March 13, 2020

1. I keep returning to something I used to hear Ralph Winter say - “it may be more strategic for you to stay and send 100 than to go yourself.” Doing this requires intentionality. I am planning to do an online Beyond webinar on the topic of being a mobilizer on 4/2. Check www.beyond.org/events for the registration link. (And since it’s online, you can’t catch coronavirus from attending.)

2. Most of what I’ve been learning this week has been related to coronavirus. It’s consumed a lot of my time. I’ve seen lots of reports of canceled short-term trips, which is to be expected with canceled tourist visas and 2-week quarantines. Less so, I’ve seen reports of missionaries withdrawn. While that’s to be expected in the short-run, in the 2-to-5 year run I expect most workers will return. (But I’ve been wrong before.) How ‘world-shaping’ this will turn out to be may become clearer in the next month or so.

3. Deciding whether to cancel an event or not is challenging, though becoming less so. Lots of countries and cities declaring emergencies and banning large gatherings. Many smaller events are on the fence. (I’m teaching 3 Perspectives classes next week, and I’m still waiting to hear if any change.) This tweet asks for resources for small churches. The thread will, in the long run, likely be useful. Chime in if you know something.

4. How many missionaries are there in the world? It’s a difficult question to answer. The World Christian Database estimates 425,000. In 2010, the Atlas of Global Christianity broke it down as Africa, 93k; Asia, 59k; Europe, 90k; Latin America, 102k; North America, 40k; Pacific, 15k. (The numbers include Catholic, Independent and Protestant missionaries). How many are engaging the unreached is a harder question. It’s one I’ve been asked, and I’m working on an analysis methodology. Also, the new 2020 numbers should be out in the WCE-3, which I’ve ordered but not yet received. I expect the regional numbers will have changed, but not dramatically.

5. People ask me frequently for numbers related to movements. The public dashboard can be found at 24:14’s website, at the bottom of the page. In short: 1,053 movements, 74 million people (1% of world), 4.4 million churches, spanning every continent and 155 of 255 people group clusters (mostly the unreached ones).

This week’s learnings are short because I was focused almost entirely on place research, coronavirus research, and mission agency stats research, outlined above.