In July 1974, at the invitation of Billy Graham, more than 2,000 Christian leaders from 150 countries gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the Congress on World Evangelization. It was at this historic meeting that Dr. Ralph Winter first introduced the groundbreaking vision for a people group approach to missions. (“Why Do We Talk about People Groups?”)
Today, after more than 40 years, how far have we come in obedience to Christ’s final command? How close are we to finishing the task?
First, there is a great deal of good news.
According to David Taylor, senior editor of the Global Mission Database, “The last 40 years [since 1974] have seen more Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus come to know Christ than in all previous centuries combined. Dozens of church-planting movements have been initiated among the world’s major unreached mega-peoples (those over one million in population), where just two decades before the ground had remained untilled for literally centuries. In the last decade, missionary deployment among unreached peoples has increased at a rapid pace, effectively doubling the number of missionaries among the least-reached.”
The total number of Western long-term missionaries declined and plateaued for more than three decades before just recently growing once again. At the same time, the number of indigenous (native) evangelists and missionaries has increased to fill the gap and expand the total sum of missionary workers among the unreached.
These trends have resulted in the planting of indigenous, reproducing churches within hundreds of previously unreached people groups. About 10,000 of the world’s 17,000 people groups are now reached. In the mid-1900s that number was under 4,000.
ANM sees this trend as a significant part of God’s global purpose. That is why we focus on advocating, encouraging, and equipping native missionaries and evangelists working among 490 unreached people groups.
Nevertheless, there is still much more that we must do to complete Christ’s last command, and few resources dedicated to fulfilling the promise of Matthew 24:14. Today, less than one penny of every dollar given to all Christian causes goes to support pioneer church planting among unreached peoples.
ANM is praying and working to see that percentage significantly increase. When every people on earth has a flourishing indigenous church then, and only then, can we humbly hope that we have been faithful to Christ’s final command.