The landscape of global Christianity has changed dramatically since 1910. Between 1910 and 2010, the number of missionaries increased from 62,000 to 400,000. Yet, despite the increase, mission and development agencies are still struggling to reach the unreached with the gospel. I argue that one of the key reasons for this is that many organizations are operating from an international model rather than a global model:
Here are some definitions for key terms related to global leadership that will be critical in understanding how organizations can become global, rather than just international:
Mission and development agencies need to make drastic changes as they face the challenges of the next hundred years.
Key data points collected by Johnson and Ross suggest that mission and development agencies need to make drastic changes as they face the challenges of the next hundred years, particularly in relation to serving the unreached:
Mission and development agencies need to be intentional in changing their approach to their work.
After absorbing these four data points, mission and development agencies need to be intentional in changing their approach to their work. The remainder of this article will examine whether operating like a global organization could help mission and development agencies better achieve their goals, and allow them to do a better job of reaching the unreached.
Research into a small sample size of NGOs and mission agencies operating in Rwanda that have an international or global headquarters elsewhere has yielded the following findings on the distinct characteristics that distinguish global from international organizations:
In many ways, this study continues and is unfinished business. The author is making changes in his own life and ministry to focus more on serving the unreached through the platform of education. The author does not have data points to offer from organizations that are currently serving the unreached, as Rwanda does not have unreached people groups. That being said, the author would suggest the following applications for the church and mission/development agencies to consider in reaching the unreached:
The unevangelized are best served by organizations featuring global leadership.
Though the data points shared above are limited to organizations in Rwanda, the author believes these can be applied to mission and development agencies worldwide. The author is looking to expand his data to include organizations serving among the unreached in order to better formulate his conclusions. That being said, the author believes that our strategies in mission and development clearly need to change since many current mission efforts are directed at the wrong targets.
Based on his research, the author believes that the unevangelized are best served by organizations featuring global leadership. These organizations are more effective in representing the diversity of global Christianity and are more likely to encourage local contextualization of the gospel. While the author believes organizations that display global leadership principles will be better suited to serving the unreached with the Gospel, he invites readers to join a discussion to test the correlations that seem to exist. As a result of implementing some of the global leadership principles found above, may more Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and other not-yet believers come to know Jesus through personal relationships with Christ-followers.
Ben Thomas and his wife Susie lead the Kigali International Community School in Kigali, Rwanda. They are co-founders of B2theworld, an organization focused on blessing children, families, and communities in countries recovering from war through transformational educational institutions. In 2016 Ben completed his Doctor of Ministry in Global Christianity and Development from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.