Friday, July 06, 2007

A Global Missions Primer

Every few months, a high school or college student wants to sit down and talk to me about their interest in going on a missions trip. Usually, I try to sit down with them in person to help them think through it a bit. This usually entails two things: First, talking with them about their desires, experiences, and talents. It's an effort to play to their strengths from the very beginning. Secondly, I try to give them the "Global Missions 101" talk. Drawing the world on a napkin [but not much bigger] always helps too.

So this post is about the essentials of global missions in 11 minutes. If I could distill it down to the essential concepts, here they are. These are concepts that should shape action as students contemplate contributing to global missions. In my experience, the average suburban, Christian high school student has no idea about most of these concepts. So, this is an attempt to give them some important information, so that they know the world is really big and that the world really needs them. Here we go.

::: Concept #1 - The Unreached
Quite simply, this concept refers to people who have a 0% chance for hearing about Jesus. Zero. No missionary, no evangelical church, no Bible radio. Most likely, they will have not even heard the name of Jesus. The rough approximation right now is that around 40% of the world is currently unreached.

Related concept - peoplegroup - breaking the population of the world into affinity groups by culture, language, worldview, etc. [versus geopolitical countries]

For more info:

::: Concept #2 - The 10/40 window
A geographic window of the world referencing those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator. The reason that this window is important is because it contains both huge populations of those that are 'unreached' [see #1] and huge populations of the world's impoverished. This area of the world is also home to an overwhelming proportion of children and some of very harshest and most remote living conditions.

For more info:
References to the "10/40 window" on this blog

::: Concept #3 - The Current Missions Disparity
A tiny fraction of the global Church's resources are going to the unreached. The going estimate is .5% - right, half of one percent. So for every $100, fifty cents is going to support the unreached. Not just budget and spending, but human capital as well. The current disparity of both staff and spending is an important thing to keep in mind, even if you aren't necessarily going but just sending.

For more info:
Where Workers Serve

::: Concept #4 - Europe
From the European Spiritual Estimate:
- only 4.2% of Europeans follow Jesus and are actively concerned about the people around them following Jesus.
- this study estimates that there is only one Gospel Oriented church for every 27,749 people in Europe.
Although the 10/40 window is huge, Europe is quite strategic as well. People there are still interested in spirituality, just not the church, as evidenced by the recent fact that the name Muhammed is number 2 in baby boy names.

For more info:
European Christian Demographics
European Spiritual Estimate
YWAM Europe's statistics

::: Concepts #5 - Other Important Concepts
- Global, urban migration
More of the world lives in urban areas than in rural areas now, meaning that cities are more strategic than ever.

- International youth ministry
Ninety-seven percent of the world's trained youth workers live and work in the United States, ministering to less than 3% of the world's youth population.

- The African AIDS crisis.

- Don't underestimate your skill of knowing the English language.

In conclusion, we are living in unprecedented times. The problems facing humanity are large, complex and important. Hopefully, these concepts have given you a little dose of the world's realities. The first step is to understand the world. Then, gather all the creativity, resolve, innovation, risk and faith you can in order to create a future that is Jesus-centered. Humanity is counting on you.

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