Understanding Global Realities, Celebrating Global Highlights and Progress

Editor’s note: This is the first post in a 10-part series that highlights information found in IMB’s Annual Statistical Report. The report is based on 2020 research data. A full copy of the report is available at imb.org/asr.

From 1700 to 2000 AD, 15.9 billion people have lived on the earth. However, we estimate that over 24.9 billion will live between 2000 and 2100 AD. This means that 9 billion more people will be alive in the next hundred years than were alive during the previous 300. In this century, the need to sow the gospel abundantly, make obedient disciples and plant healthy, multiplying churches is unparalleled.

79.8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide. Forcibly displaced peoples are refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and are among the estimated one billion migrants on the move today. Unfortunately, the number of forcibly displaced people is expected to increase in the coming decade due to global economic and political realities.

Making up only 8% of the total people on the move worldwide, the forcibly displaced represent the majority of the remaining Unengaged Unreached People Group (UUPG) population. Forcibly displaced peoples tend to resettle in countries more accessible to missionaries, potentially opening the door for these UUPGs to have access to the gospel for the first time!

Forcibly displaced peoples often move through unsafe informal corridors and require unique ministry approaches. 60% of refugees and 80% of IDPs settle in urban areas. Mission strategies are adjusting to target these groups with the gospel where they have settled and to mobilize any existing believers within the groups to engage their own people.

Global Highlights and Progress

We’d like to take a look back at the extraordinary ways the Lord moved in 2020.

Last year, 144,322 people committed their lives to Christ, and 86,587 were baptized. Growth also came in the form of leadership development — 127,155 people received leadership training. These men and women who received training are furthering the gospel and growing their communities of faith. Through your IMB missionaries, 769,494 people heard the gospel message. Join us in praying for those who heard but have not chosen to follow Christ.

We believe that a faithful reading of Scripture applied to practical missiology denotes six basic components that we’ve labeled the core missionary task: entry, evangelism, disciple making, healthy church formation, leadership development, and strategically planned exit to partnership. We believe that all mission effort — whether exerted by missionaries or partnering churches — should focus along these lines.

In a year marked by a worldwide pandemic and nationwide-lockdowns and political and social strife, our numbers increased rather than decreased. Throughout 2019, 12,368 new churches were planted and in 2020, 18,380 new churches were planted.

The spread of the gospel was not stopped in 2020.

Thank you for your investment. Thank you for giving, for going and for praying.

Together, we’re bringing hope and help to those who need it most.