- Many mission and development agencies operate from what Gundling, Hogan, and Cvitkovich describe as an ‘International Company: Mother Ship/Baby Ship Model as opposed to a Global Company: The Horizontal Network’.
- By applying principles of global leadership, mission and development agencies can move from being international organizations to global ones.
- They will as a result better serve the unreached.
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.
How do we know we have a problem?
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:
- The most eye-opening number is that, as of 2010, ‘Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims have relatively little contact with Christians. In each case, over 86% of these religionists globally do not personally know a Christian’. While mission and development agencies have worked hard, something is clearly off in our strategies to reach non-Christians, if religionists from these three groups do not know a Christian. The remaining three data points offer an explanation as to why this number is correct: the strategies of mission and development agencies match the results that are being seen.
- Over 85 percent of evangelism offers are directed at current Christians whereas only two percent are directed at the unevangelised. ‘Evangelism offers to already Christians account for over 85%, Muslims receive 2.2% of evangelism offers, Hindus receive 0.9% of evangelism offers, and Buddhists receive 0.7% of total evangelism offers.’ Put another way, the unevangelised receive two percent of evangelism offers, the already evangelized but not yet Christian receive 12.6 percent and already Christians receive 85.4 percent.
- In 2010, there were nearly 10 times as many missionaries operating in North America (40,200) as there were in Northern Africa (4,300). Far fewer missionaries are being sent to the unevangelised than to the already Christian. ‘Missionaries today are sent from everywhere and are received everywhere. But from the standpoint of evangelising non-Christians, one can see a problem: countries with largely Christian populations receive relatively more missionaries than majority non-Christian countries. One dramatic example of this is Brazil (a largely Christian country), which receives a total of 20,000 missionaries, whereas Bangladesh, with nearly as many people, only receives 1,000 missionaries’.
- Christians are directing less than one percent of their giving towards unevangelised non-Christians. ‘At present, about 82% of Christian expenditure is dedicated to the pastoral ministries of the churches in the home countries of the givers, mostly in the heartlands of the Christian faith. Another 12% is spent on home missions in those same countries, with 5.6% going to foreign missions. Much of this money, however, is spent on work among Christians (in the case of foreign missions) or in affluent countries that already have large Christian populations (in the case of home missions). As a result, only 0.3% of total Christian expenditures is actually directed towards unevangelised non-Christians’.
Mission and development agencies need to be intentional in changing their approach to their work.
Need for change
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.
Key Findings on Global Agencies
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:
Lessons Learned from the Findings
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.
- Todd M. Johnson and Kenneth R. Ross, Atlas of Global Christianity 1910 – 2010 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), 261. ↑
- Ernest Gundling, Terry Hogan, and Karen Cvitkovich, What is Global Leadership?: 10 Key Behaviors that Define Great Global Leaders (Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2011),79-80. ↑
- Johnson and Ross, Atlas of Global Christianity, 316. ↑
- Ibid, 318. ↑
- Ibid, 318. ↑
- Ibid, 261. ↑
- Ibid, 261. ↑
- Ibid, 296. ↑
- Benjamin Thomas, Global Leadership: Helping Mission & Development Organizations and Leaders Navigate the Path From Being International to Being Global, Dissertation for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton, MA, 2016. ↑