Actions follow values, and if the actions of the ELCIC regarding missionaries was any indication of our values, we would scratch our heads. We would be left with the realization that we have a lot to learn about global outreach. A while back, I was very interested to find out more about our member to missionary ratio. What I learned from a little research what very surprising. After a few emails and a little bit of time of various denominational websites, I found the number of members in several denominations and the number of full-time missionaries supported by these faith communities. I am not a statistician, but what I found was surprising, however you crunch the numbers.
I learned that the Christian and Missionary Alliance have 46000 members and 203 supported missionaries; that’s 1 missionary for every 226 people (226:1)
The Baptist General Conference of Canada has a ratio of 1014:1
The Pentecostals (PAOC) have 1807:1
The Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada have about 1 missionary per church (a ratio of about 300:1)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (that’s us), we have a member to missionary ratio of 54000:1* That’s right, fifty-four thousand to one.
Now, I concede that I am not factoring in Canadian Lutheran World Relief and the various aid agencies that each denomination supports. But a strict look a the missionary numbers leaves us to consider that we have not been reaching out as we ought to be. What if, in 2010, each Lutheran church was to take a group on a short-term mission trip? What if we were to foster a longing in our communities for cross-cultural engagement? Perhaps these experiences will inspire us to live out the Great Commission and get-out-there again. What if we were simply not satisfied with 54000:1.
For a full breakdown of my numbers, here is a PDF of my findings with footnotes, etc: Member to Missionary Ratio. I welcome refinements to my data and the addition of data from other denominations.
*That’s not all. As of Summer 2009, the ELCIC Long-Term missionaries will be managed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; effectively this means that there will be no full-time missionaries in the ELCIC as of this summer. We will send any support for long-term missionaries to the ELCA. The Volunteers in Missions program (VIM) will be cut and any mission volunteers will have to work with our American counterparts in Chicago. Both staff people managing these missionary efforts have lost their jobs as a result of this restructuring. Instead of expanding missions, the ELCIC National Church Council has seen fit to cut missions.