Mission Handbook, 21st Edition

 U.S. and Canadian Protestant Ministries Overseas


Linda J. Weber, ed.

Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS), 2010, 624 pp.   ISBN 978-1-879089-51-8



Surprisingly few people know about this encyclopedia of mission organizations.  Occasionally I receive questions about what organizations work in a particular country or do certain kinds of ministry or what I know about an agency or how to get in touch with a particular mission organization.  This is where I go for the answers.  


In the 60-page Introduction Scott Moreau provides an analysis of the information.  The bulk of the information is for the year 2008.  Numbers and trends are helpful, but don’t jump to conclusions.   Moreau’s discussion clarifies the reality behind the numbers.  


This book reports on 800 US mission organizations (vs. 700 in 2005) and 166 in Canada. The total number of full-time missionaries serving overseas includes

  •   47,261  US citizens
  •     5,537     non-U.S. citizens serving outsider their home country
  •  86,471    non-US citizens serving in their home country
  • 139,269 TOTAL

In addition there are an unknown number of Christian professionals sent by organizations that do not want to be labeled as “mission” organizations.  There are uncounted individuals sent and supported by local mega-churches.  And there are uncounted Christians serving as business people or entrepreneurs not reporting to any Protestant organization. (35)


101 of the agencies were founded after 1974, about 15% of the total, mostly focused on short-term mission work.  They have added only 0.5% to the long-term workers.  


The number of US long term workers has grown steadily but slowly since 1996, with the exception of a dip in 2005. 


The number of non-US citizens working for mission organizations has gone from 30,000 in 1996 to 92,000 in 2008.  The large majority work in their own country and the extent to which they are working cross-culturally is not known.


Tentmakers are up 73% from 1934 (in 2005) to 3354 (in 2008).  And of course there are many who are not included in the numbers from agencies.


Short-term (two-week) workers sent by U.S. agencies (41,000) is down sharply.  [But estimates of the total number reach 1.5 million, mostly sent by local churches.]


Income for overseas ministries in 2008: $5.7 billion.  The income for US based mission work has increased each year since 1996.  An apparent dip in 2008 resulted from 5 agencies (still operating) that reported $0 income in 2008! [Not sure why] 


The 2008 survey added five new options to the list of activities: Business as Mission, Children at Risk, HIV/Aids, Sports Program Ministry, and Trafficking/Slavery Issues.


Each agency is asked to identify one activity (primary activity) they most commonly associate with their organization from the following list: 

  • Evangelism & Discipleship
  • Relief & Development
  • Mission Agency Support
  • Education & Training
  • Other


56.4% of the agencies list Evangelism and Discipleship as their primary activity (down by 6% from 1998).  Relief and Development is up by 4.65%.  Agencies haven’t changed their primary activity.  But the ratio has changed because of the primary activities of the 100 new agencies added to the Handbook.


Organizations focusing on Evangelism and Discipleship receive 47.5% of the overseas budget and 85-90% of the full-time workers.


The largest investment in full-time personnel is in Asian countries, (more than 60,000).  The Middle East, by contrast, receives fewer than 2000 workers. 


Agencies continue to shift workers toward the 10/40 Window.  These countries receive about 22% of US workers and 54% of non-US full-time workers (It isn’t known how many of these are working with the unreached.) 


Using David Barrett’s terminology of Worlds A, B, and C, about 5% of full-time workers are listed in World A.  However another 8.9% of full-time workers do not specify their assignments – probably because they are in such countries.  The total could be > 14%.

Over half the full-time workers are in World A or World B countries, so there is significant focus on the unreached.  (64-5) 


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Your comments and book recommendations are welcome.