A new study reveals how the missions field continues to become increasingly global—in some surprising ways. One example: South Korea has lost its No. 2 sending spot to four unlikely contenders.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary calculates that Christians sent out approximately 400,000 international missionaries in 2010. And nearly half of the world’s top missionary-sending countries are now located in the global South.
The CSGC reports that “of the ten countries sending the most missionaries in 2010, three were in the global South: Brazil, South Korea, and India.” Other notable missionary senders included South Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, China, Colombia, and Nigeria.
However, the United States still tops the chart by far in terms of total missionaries, sending 127,000 in 2010 compared to the 34,000 sent by No. 2-ranked Brazil.
But examine the data differently—in terms of missionaries sent per million church members—and Palestine comes out on top at 3,401 sent, followed by Ireland, Malta, and Samoa. (Interestingly, South Korea ranks No. 5 at 1,014 missionaries sent per million church members, a sign of the continued strength of its missions movement compared to the No. 9-ranked United States at 614 missionaries sent).