A Status Report on Research 1987 – by Bob Waymire

What Is and What Is Not Being Done: Article From 1987

MARC – MARC, 919 W. Huntington Blvd., Monrovia, CA 91109, has published in the past the World Christianity series, the Missions Handbook, and the Unreached Peoples volumes. he World Christianity series, containing broad overviews of individual countries, has been contracted out to editors. Volumes in the series are produced very randomly (South Asia came out four years ago, but there has been no volume on South America in 13 years). MARC’s future plans for publishing this series are under evaluation.

In most cases the series gives a partial listing of denominations/organizations and some statistics. It does not list people groups among which work is being carried out.

The Missions Handbook is published periodically and is a very trustworthy listing of North American Protestant Ministries Overseas. It lists numbers of workers each organization is sending, the countries in which they are working, and numbers of groups with which they are working. It does not list group names, nor the types of ministries being carried out within them. MARC plans on continuing this valuable work.

The Unreached Peoples volumes are being published periodically. None were published in 1985 or 1986. They contain listings of people groups/languages/religion/percent Christian and some other identification information along with some expanded descriptions. Unreached Peoples do not give a complete listing of languages; they list only those that were reported in reply to a survey questionnaire.

Groups appear in these volumes if they are reported as less than 20 percent Christian. MARC is not carrying forth ongoing surveys for general update of the data, but they are involved in special projects, e.g., urban center research.

The UP volumes do not provide information relative to who is working among the groups or the ministries being carried out.

MARC is a division of World Vision International and also serves as the research “arm” of the Lausanne Committee’s Strategy Working Group (LCWE/SWG). MARC is currently undergoing some redirection.

Patrick Johnstone
Patrick has done the Body of Christ a great service in publishing Operation World. The latest edition came out last year (although the date doesn’t appear on the cover), and provides a very good overview, along with some vital statistics, for every country. It is loaded with prayer requests that result from Johnstone’s proliferation of personal contacts with missionaries and national Church workers around the world.

Johnstone has a denominational file, which he has been keeping for about four years. He does not maintain people group files per se, but does have considerable information on groups in which WEC is working or is targeting. He has just become associate executive secretary at WEC and his future in the research area remains to be seen. He maintains a country file for every country and makes this information available on micro-fische. He produces excellent maps primarily in the interest categories of WEC. He has also done some preliminary research on cities, primarily in cooperation with David Barrett.

Operation World can be ordered through Mission Frontiers Book Service for only $3. See inside back cover. (GMP maintains all the stats from the 1986 Operation World database, plus a copy of the denominational and city databases in the Global Research Database).

David Barrett
David Barrett produced the World Christian Encyclopedia (WCE). He is currently working with the Southern Baptists in Richmond, Virginia. His current research focus includes world class cities. He has amassed a considerable database on the people groups and countries and also on denominations that he compiled while working on the Encyclopedia.

Barrett is not able at present to continuously update all of his databases through ongoing surveys. He has co-authored the latest in the Unreached Peoples series with MARC which focuses on urban centers. He does not maintain records which reflect what ministry is being carried out in the various people groups.

Joe and Barbara Grimes
Joe and Barbara Grimes of Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Summer Institute of Linguistics produce the Ethnologue. The latest edition came out in 1984. Another is planned for 1988.

The Ethnologue is a master list of the languages of the earth and gives population and location information plus the status of scripture translation. It also reflects some listings of the organizations that work among some of the groups, although this is spotty—not being one of the Grimes’ focuses for research. The Grimes do not list the number or percent Christian for these language groups.

The Ethnologue is a very helpful and crucial document for identification, location and scripture status for all the language groups and dialects. It can be ordered from the International Linguistics Center (WBT), 7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236 USA.

Overseas Crusades
Overseas Crusades (OC) maintains a Third World Agencies (TWA) database. This database contains data regarding identity, number of workers, type of ministry and target peoples and countries for the mission agencies in the developing nations, although some of the latter data is incomplete. The research is primarily carried forth via survey questionnaires.

OC is currently updating the TWA database. If they will maintain this database and continue to refine it, it will be of great service to the total Great Commission enterprise.

Frank Gray
Frank Gray, Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) and Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization RICE (Radio in Church-planting Evangelism) maintains a Christian radio database. This very excellent work reflects what broadcasts are being carried on by the international Christian radio broadcasters around the world. It tells what languages are being broadcast, the hours per day, week, and month, the target countries/areas, etc.

Gray is continually working on keeping this database current.

Global Mapping Project
Global Mapping Project (GMP) maintains the Global Research Database. This computerized database is primarily a synthesis of the above databases with the addition of several hundred more variables (approximately 1000 different data variables are tracked). In addition, GMP has the ability to produce computerized maps which display the information in geographic or spacial terms. (This mapping system is being developed for use with personal computers so it can be used worldwide).

GMP has published the Peoplesfile Index, a synthesis of the Ethnologue, Unreached Peoples file, and the Recorded Language Directory (Gospel Recordings). It is currently developing the People Profile, 8-page summary profiles, ultimately of every people group. GMP is planning to publish the Databook, an annual summary of the contents of the Global Research Database.

GMP is concerned about the large amount of research that isn’t being done, and the lack of mechanisms for carrying it out. Although the above summary describes what is being done, it also reveals what is missing.

There are no structures in place for obtaining and maintaining the needed information on a continuous or permanent basis. Global Mapping is beginning to network what is available, but we need to concentrate on what to do with respect to that which is not available.

GMP is currently advocating and assisting in establishing permanent national research functions (PNRF’s) and information resource centers (IRC’s) around the world. We believe these are vital if we are to obtain and maintain the accurate, up-to-date, relevant picture that is needed on an on-going basis in order to complete the task.

1. There are several significant databases, global or continental in scope, that has information that is crucial to finishing the Great Commission. These databases are not all equally maintained up-to-date.

2. There is a great gap in what information is being obtained compared to what is needed. The following are categories of information for which there is an urgent need for on-going research: Information for which there is still an urgent need

a. Identifying and documenting what people groups have Christian ministries among them. Such identification should include an identification of the organizations working among them; when the ministries started to work there; what kinds of ministry are taking place: evangelism, church planting, community development (health, water, energy, clothing, shelter, etc.), literacy, media (radio, TV, video and audio recordings, films, literature, etc.) .

b. Discovering the number of congregations and believers is also an essential need. Providing for periodic updates of this information is also crucial. To say a group has been “reached” is nebulous and can be very misleading. The facts must be made clear.
c. Documenting the denominational statistics and ministries for each country. Very few countries have any mechanism for obtaining and maintaining this information so that it can be made available to the whole Body of Christ. Where statistics are gathered, they are often in a non-standard form. Statistics should include: number of churches, number of active members, workers, missionaries (and their target countries/peoples), number of Bible schools/seminaries, graduates, evangelistic Bible studies, etc.

3. There is a crucial need for establishing permanent national research functions in every country where the Church is in force. Such functions should coordinate research and make information available to users inside and outside the country. Such functions should become nodes in a global research network similar to that being developed at the Global Mapping Project.

By Bob Waymire, general director, Global Mapping Project.

From Mission Frontiers Magazine March 1987