Although you would never know it if you just read secular newspapers or watched the evening news on TV, Christianity is the greatest movement in the world. When it comes to the incredible growth and impact of Christianity worldwide it could be called "The Greatest Story ever Missed!"
The Church of Jesus Christ is a worldwide movement with representatives in every country of the world. The Kingdom of Christ has more citizens than even the most populous nation on earth. It has many more employees and "customers" than Coca-Cola, Microsoft or General Motors. The worldwide assets of the church far exceed the combined assets of the "Fortune 500" companies. Americans alone give ten times more to churches and ministries than they spend on sports each year. Church attendance each month greatly exceeds the combined numbers of those who will attend sporting events throughout any entire year.1
The all time, best selling book in history, every year, is actually: the Bible. There has never been any close second. The Bible is also the most translated, read and studied book in all of history. Every year the Bible is translated into 18 new languages. By the year 2000 AD, eight out of every ten people will have access to the entire Bible in their own language. Nine out of ten will have access to a New Testament. Already over 2 600 languages have at least a portion of the Bible translated.2
The Gospel is also being broadcast by radio in over 250 languages. By the year 2000 radio broadcasts and audio Gospel recordings and tapes are expected to have the potential to communicate to over 99% of the world's population.3
The most translated and widely viewed film in history is the "JESUS" film. Over 750 million people in 217 countries have seen the Jesus film. New translations of the film are being produced every 10 days. By the year 2000 the "Jesus" film will be available in languages known by 99% of the world's population.3
"Lift up your eyes and look at the fields..." John 4:35
These incredible missionary achievements and ongoing projects are all the more remarkable when one considers the historical perspective: After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ there were 120 believers gathered to pray. Within a few days 3000 had been added. After 3 centuries of recurring persecution in the Roman Empire there were 10 million professing Christians alive. At the end of the first millennium, 1000 AD, this number had grown to 50 million. By the year 1800 the number of those who claimed to be Christians (of all denominations - Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) was 215 million.1
In the 1886 book "The Crisis of Missions", by Pierson, the first century of modern Protestant missions was analysed. In just 100 years Bible translations had multiplied from 50 to 250; mission boards from 7 to 100, male missionaries from 170 to 3000; contributions from $250 000 to $10 million and converts in the field from 50 000 to 2.5 million.4
Source: Operation World:
In 1795 the modern missionary movement was launched by William Carey. Within a century, by 1900, the number of professing Christians had more than doubled to 500 million! In this century the number of nominal Christians has quadrupled to about 2 Billion!
Now statistics can be misleading, and how many of those numbers represent truly born again Christians - only God knows. However, even if only a fraction of those who claim to be Christian have a real relationship with Christ as their Lord and Saviour - the numbers involved would still be vast. There is nothing in history to compare with the worldwide expansion of the Church of Christ, nor the enormous missionary efforts it involves and the spiritual hunger it represents.
Church statistician, Dr David Barrett has calculated the following to indicate the ratio of evangelical Bible believing Christians to the total number of people in the world at that time:
1430 - one to ninety nine
1790 - one to forty nine
1940 - one to thirty two
1960 - one to twenty four
1980 - one to sixteen
1993 - one to nine
Today 700 million people would claim to be born again believers. Barrett reports that "the Kingdom of Christ is expanding… at over three times the rate of world population growth"
A further indication of the rapid escalation of missionary activity is seen in the fact that in 1970, two-thirds of the world's nominal Christians were in the West (Europe and the USA). Yet today 75% of Christians live in the non-Western world. There are therefore now far more Christians in the "mission fields" than in the traditional "sending countries!" In Africa for example there were 10 million Christians in 1900. Today over 300 million Africans claim to be Christians! In Latin America there were only 50,000 Protestants in 1900. By the year 2000 there will probably be 100 million Protestants in South and Central America!1
In Asia the Church is expanding at an unprecedented rate. In China alone, an average of 25,000 are being added to the church every day! This is in spite of intense persecution. The words of Christ are being fulfilled: "Upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18
The great challenge before the Church today is the urgent need for Bible teaching. The world is being superficially evangelised, but inadequately discipled. Especially in Africa we continually receive desperate pleas for more literature and more leadership training. For this reason the members of Christian Action Network are dedicated to providing Bible based books, newsletters, leaflets, tapes, radio broadcasts and leadership training courses such as the Discipleship Training Course, the Reformation and Revival Seminar, the Biblical Worldview Seminar, the God and Government Seminar, the Great Commission Workshop and the Summit.
The huge, largely untapped potential of the world Christian movement to transform this world is incalculable. In the past, God fearing, Bible believing Christians put a stop to human sacrifices, infanticide, bloodsports, cannibalism, widow burning, child prostitution, slavery and a host of other previously pervasive atrocities. Imagine what can be achieved in the future with the worldwide manpower, resources and facilities of the Church - if we were to earnestly mobilise Christians to prayer and repentance? If God were to graciously pour out His Spirit in worldwide revival - the results would be electrifying! As Benjamin Franklin declared: "Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world!"
The immense potential is there. The church is all too often a sleeping giant. Yet if the Church worldwide were to wake up, reformation and revival would change the world!
"If My people, who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Dr. Peter Hammond
1. The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, Nelson, 1996.
2. Operation World by Patrick Johnstone, Zondervan, 1993.
3. The Unfinished Task by Luis Bush, AD 2000 and Beyond, 1997.
4. What in the World is God Doing? by C. Gordon Olson, Global, 1994.