Missions Statistics: Have We Failed The Great Commission?

The State of World Missions

Christian Missions Statistics

This might surprise you.

For every $100,000 a Christian earns, only $107 on average will go to world missions. And roughly 1% of that money will support the 3.1 billion people who live in unreached people groups.

That means the United States will spend more money on pet costumes in 2018 than they will invest in missions to unreached people groups.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are estimated to spend $1.12 billion on Halloween costumes for their pets. But only $450 million is given towards missions unreached people groups.

We have enough money and people to send missionaries to every unreached people group. But not enough people are giving, and not enough people are going.

It’s estimated one missionary is needed for every 50,000 unreached person. As a result, we need 66,547 more missionaries to serve these people.* Since it takes $59,500 a year to support a missionary, we need $3.96 billion a year to support these missionaries.

It sounds like a lot of money. And it is. Yet evangelical Christians together earn $5.98 trillion dollars a year. That means if every evangelical gave an extra $6.63 for every $10,000 we earn, that would cover all missionary financial costs.

What about the number of people needed to reach all unreached people groups?

There are an estimated 341 million evangelicals worldwide. That’s 1 more missionary needed for every 5,120 evangelicals. Has God only called 0.02% of His people to reach the 3.1 billion in unreached people groups? Have we failed our responsibility to preach the gospel to every tongue, tribe, and nation?

Yes, God desires for the gospel to go out to all, not just unreached peoples. But the Church is failing to evangelize even to internationals whom God brings right to our door.

It’s estimated 1,078,822 international students studied in the U.S. in the 2016/17 school year. About 62% came from countries in the 10/40 Window or 668,869 students. Yet 90% of those students will not come in contact with a ministry before returning home.

As you read through this article, I pray God brings your soul alive to do more of the work God called us to locally and globally (Acts 1:8).

Here is what you’ll find in this article:

World Missions Statistics

  1. How many missionaries are there in the world?
  2. What is the number of evangelical Christian missionaries in the world?
  3. What countries need missionaries?

Unreached People Group Statistics

  1. What are people groups?
  2. Who are unreached people groups?
  3. Who are unengaged people groups?
  4. How many unreached people groups are there?
  5. What is the number of unreached peoples?
  6. How many unengaged people groups are there?

10/40 Window Statistics

  1. 10/40 window definition.
  2. 10/40 window facts.
  3. What’s so important about the 10/40 window?
  4. What countries are in the 10/40 window?

What Are Closed Countries?

  1. What countries are closed to Christianity?

Other Missionary Facts

* The people in unreached people groups are not evenly distributed. If an unreached people group has only 20,000 people, the need is still at least one missionary.

World Missions Statistics

How Many Missionaries Are There in the World?

In 2017, an estimated 430,000 full-time missionaries serving in another country. There were 1,135,000 home missionaries and 400,000 short-term missionaries in 2001. With 5.5 million full-time Christian workers, a mere 7.6% are serving in another country.

This is using a broad definition of Christian to include anyone who calls themselves a Christian.

What Is the Number of Evangelical Christian Missionaries in the World?

The International Bulletin of Missionary Research says there were 341,904,000 evangelicals in 2017.

If we assume evangelicals send the same percent of missionaries, there are 59,292 foreign evangelical missionaries.

What Countries Need Missionaries?

One could say every country needs missionaries until all know the gospel. According to The Atlas of Global Christianity, the United States both sends and receives the most missionaries in 2010.

How you define the need changes the answer to this question. You could measure the need by the population of unreached people groups, or by the need for more Bible translation.

If you measure the need by the number of people in unreached people groups, here are the top 10 countries:

  1. India - 1,284,847,000
  2. Pakistan - 198,455,000
  3. Indonesia - 165,522,000
  4. Bangladesh - 163,623,000
  5. China - 146,215,000
  6. Japan - 124,296,000
  7. Iran - 81,619,000
  8. Turkey - 81,091,000
  9. Thailand - 68,064,000
  10. Nigeria - 63,406,000

What about the need for Bible translation? A full Bible is available in 670 different languages, according to Wycliffe. 1,521 languages only have the Bible in the New Testament. And 1,121 languages have only select portions and stories of the Bible in their language.

This leaves about 1,636 language that needs translation work. That leaves 220 million people without any Bible in their native language and 1.29 billion people who do not have access to a full Bible in their language.

Wycliffe estimates the need for Bible translation is greatest in:

  1. Africa (627 languages)
  2. Asia (559 languages)
  3. Pacific (353 languages)
  4. Americas (63 languages)
  5. Europe (34 languages)

Wikipedia put together this world missions map from Pew Research to help you see the need of Christian missions:

While this map is helpful, it can mislead someone because it uses a broad definition of Christian (anyone who calls themselves a Christian). Further, the needs of people groups aren’t clear when looking at countries as a whole.

Unreached People Group Statistics

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus left his disciples with the command to make disciples of every nation. You may think of a nation as Poland or Kenya, but the Greek word “ethne” is closer to our definition of an ethnic people group.

What Are People Groups?

In Christian communities, a people group is defined as the largest group where the gospel can spread without any barriers of understanding. This is often due to language, culture, social status, religious traditions, past history, or location barriers.

An estimated 11,749 people groups are in the world.

Who Are Unreached People Groups?

There are two definitions of unreached people groups:

  1. Any ethnic groups where less than 2% of the population are Evangelical Christians (People Groups).
  2. An ethnic group without any known local believers or church among them (Lausanne).

Who Are Unengaged People Groups?

Unengaged people groups are like unreached people groups, but with a slight difference. The two definitions of unengaged people groups are:

  1. Any ethnic group where there is no church planting strategy, consistent with evangelical faith and practice underway (People Groups).
  2. Any ethnic group without any known churches or agencies trying to share the gospel with those people (Lausanne).

We use the first definition of both terms as they are more widely in use.

Here are some common questions about unreached and unengaged people groups...

How Many Unreached People Groups Are There?

According to the Joshua Project, there are 7,080 unreached people groups. PeopleGroups.org reports 7,077 unreached people groups.

What Is the Number of Unreached Peoples?

According to the Joshua Project, there are 3,148,650,000 unreached peoples around the world. This is about 41.6% of the world’s population. PeopleGroups.org reports 4.4 billion unreached peoples or 57.9% of the world’s population.

If we need one missionary for every 50,000 people in an unreached people group, we would need 66,547 more overseas missionaries.

How Many Unengaged People Groups Are There?

According to PeopleGroups.org, there are 3,235 unengaged people groups.

10/40 Window Statistics

10/40 Window Definition

In 1990, Partners International CEO Luis Bush coined the term the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is in the eastern hemisphere between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator.

10/40 Window Facts

The top 50 least evangelized megacities are all in the 10/40 Window. This is one reason why it is also known as "The Resistant Belt." It includes the majority of the world's Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. Additionally, there are many animists, Jews, and atheists who live there.

Roughly two-thirds of the world’s population lives in the 10/40 Window. An estimated 3.05 billion people live in the 5,933 unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window.

The 10/40 Window is home to some of the largest unreached people groups in the world. This includes the Shaikh, Yadava, Turks, Moroccan Arabs, Pashtun, Jat, and Burmese people.

Many of the countries in the 10/40 Window are closed or restricted to Christian work.

What’s so Important About the 10/40 Window?

The 10/40 Window has the highest level of social challenges and has the least access to the Gospel and other Christian resources on the planet.

What Countries Are in the 10/40 Window?

Here is a list of the 10/40 Window countries:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, China, Hong Kong (China), Macau (China), Djibouti, East Timor, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, West Bank / Gaza, Western Sahara, and Yemen.

What Are Closed Countries?

Closed countries are locations where missionaries cannot get a visa. Typically, church activities are also restricted or regulated. There is often higher levels of persecution in these countries too.

While missionaries are restricted to going to these countries, many Christians use other creative means to get to the field. This includes starting a business in the country (business as mission/BAM), broadcasting TV or news from a nearby country, or taking a job in the country (tentmaking).

While most closed and restricted countries are in the 10/40 Window, this is not always true. For example, Cambodia is currently an open country in the 10/40 Window.

What Countries Are Closed to Christianity?

Here is a list of countries closed to missionaries:

North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Nigeria, Syria, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, house, Jordan, did you could stand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Renee, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Turkey, Kenya, Bhutan, Kuwait, Central African Republic, Palestinian territories, Mali, Indonesia, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Algeria, China, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Oman, Mauritania, Bahrain, Columbia, and Djibouti.

Here is a map of Christian persecution around the world:

It is good to be aware of persecution and to pray for our brothers and sisters in these countries (Heb. 3:13). However, all of Jesus’s disciples will face persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). We do not have a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

Other Missionary Facts

This section is a list of missionary facts from Gordon Conwell’s 2013 summarization of Christianity in the world. The term Christian uses a broad definition to include Catholics, Protestants, Independents, Jehovah Witnesses, and Mormons.


Africa experienced the greatest religious change of any continent over the twentieth century.

In 1910, only 9% of Africa’s population was Christian, roughly about 10 million people. 80% of these Christians lived in four countries: Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt, and Madagascar.

By 2010, the number of Christians increased to 48.3%. By 2020 it is expected to reach 49.3%.

In 1970, Muslims made up 40% of the population in Africa. They became the largest group of religious followers, beating ethnic religionists with 20.5% of the population. During this time, many ethnic religionists became Christians, not Muslims.

Kenya has more people in Christian churches on Sunday than Canada.


Despite its origins in Western Asia, Christianity has spread faster in other parts of the globe. By percent, Asia today is the least-Christian area in the world.

That said, Christianity has grown significantly in the twentieth century. In 1970, 4.5% of the total population were Christians. By 2010, 8.2% were Christians, with a projected increase to 9.2% by 2020.

Researchers expect Christianity to grow faster than any other religion from 2010-2020, averaging 2.1% growth every year. Compare this to a growth rate of 0.9% for the general population.

Christianity has been the sixth-largest religious group in Asia since 1970. The five leading religions in Asia are:

  1. Islam
  2. Hinduism
  3. Buddhism
  4. Agnosticism
  5. Chinese folk-religion

Asia is the historic home to all of these religions except agnosticism.

In 2013, more Christian believers attended church in China than in “Christian Europe.”


Significant changes happened from 1910 to 2010 in European Christianity.  In 1970, Christians made up 75% of Europe’s population. This is a significant drop from 94.5% in 1910.

By 2010 Christians made up 78.6% of the population. Historians believe this came from the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. But researchers expect this percentage to decrease to 78% by 2020.

Protestants experienced the greatest overall decline. They made up 12.5% of Europe in 1970 and dropped to 9.2% in 2010. The population is expected to drop to 8.9% by 2020.

South America

Christians are slowly decreasing in Latin America’s population. In 1970, 94.2% would call themselves Christians. Researchers expect this number to drop to 92.1% by 2020.

In Brazil, Protestants and Independent Christians combined represented 12.9% of the population in 1970. Researchers expect this number to grow to 28.8% by 2020.

Evangelicals specifically are also growing fast in Latin America. They grew from 9.2 million in 1970 to 47.2 million in 2010. Researchers project growth to 59.6 million by 2020.

Brazil is second to the United States for sending the most missionaries outside their country.

North America

From 1970 to 2010, the Christian population in North America shrank in every country. This was seen most dramatically in Canada, falling from 94.5% in 1970 to 69.4% in 2010. Researchers expect this number to continue to drop to 66.0% by 2020.

The United States saw the largest decline by percentage, from 90.9% of the population in 1970 to 80.1% in 2010.

Oceania / Australia

Christianity in Oceania has undergone significant changes over the 50-year period. In 1970, Christians were 92.5% of the population. This is an increase from the 1910 Christian population of 78.6%. This is a sign of the success of missionary efforts in those countries.

Since 1970, Christianity’s percent of the population has been declining in all regions. There are two possible reasons for the decline:

  1. The rise of secularization, primarily in Australia and New Zealand, which dominate Oceania.
  2. A decrease in conversions from ethnic religions in Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

Christianity in Australia and New Zealand is losing its dominance. The region as a whole was 93.4% Christian in 1970 but dropped to 70.8% in 2010. By 2020, researchers expect this number to drop to 65.6%. This is lower than any region in Europe for the same year.

Final Thoughts

As Evangelicals, we have both the money and people to share the gospel with every unreached people group. Sadly, many people pass the joy of making disciples to someone else.

Will you be someone willing to be different and become more involved in the Great Commission? You can do this in one of three ways:

  1. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the field (Matt. 9:38; Luke 10:2).
  2. Give in proportion to what you have (2 Cor. 8:11, 14-15), not reluctantly or under compulsion, but cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7).
  3. Go and make disciples. Do so wherever you are (Matt. 28:18-20), whether in your city, country, or to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

The goal is in sight. Let’s finish the race strong, together.