by Justin Long
For nearly a decade, I have gathered information on a new trend: rapidly multiplying church-planting (or disciple-making) movements. For the past five years in particular, I have condensed this information into a single “dashboard” presentation—sometimes delivered as email, and sometimes as a PowerPoint. The latest version was just released on the 24:14 Network’s website (under “Global Movement Statistics”) and the following is a summary of the findings I normally present when sharing in public.
Since the mid-1990s, we have witnessed the remarkable and explosive growth of disciple-making movements globally, with much of that growth happening in the past 10 years. From a very small handful of known movements in 1995, the number has grown to over 1,850 movements globally, encompassing over 99.9 million believers in 6.8 million churches (typically small, house-church type gatherings). This means over 1% of the world’s total population are Christ-followers in rapidly growing movements!
These numbers are the tip of the iceberg—or, as I frequently say in presentations, the “floor” and not the “ceiling.” Certainly, the numbers are higher than this. These movements can be found in every UN region, though their largest numbers are in Africa and parts of Asia (mostly Southern Asia). Movements have spread broadly, touching each of the Affinity Blocks identified by Joshua Project and over 222 of the 271 People Group Clusters. Growth is especially significant in the world’s least-reached places.
Movements are touching every religious block, growing markedly among Muslim and Hindu peoples, with progress also among some Buddhist peoples. While we have so far seen less progress among Western groups (Europeans, North Americans, and Australia-New Zealand), this may be largely due to the fact that movement-style work is much newer in those regions. Burgeoning movements are already happening among a few Western people groups, showing it can work there too.
However, in many places, this remarkable growth is still a just drop in the bucket among the much larger populations. The well-known Bhojpuri movement, for example, is one of the largest in the world, and yet still a relatively small (though rapidly growing!) percentage of the provinces in which it is found. Much work still remains to be done.
The 24:14 Network’s goal is to see a CPM engagement team in “every people and place” by 2025. How close are we to that goal? COVID-19 has made information gathering difficult in 2020 and 2021, but I estimate there are at least 170 languages that are less than 2% Christian and not engaged by CPM/DMM teams. They should be a priority for movement efforts. Likewise, I estimate there are at least 458 provinces that are less than 2% Christian and are not known to be engaged. If CPM teams can be focused on each of these priorities, we will be very close to reaching the overall goal.
Our great God is doing amazing works in our time. We look to him in earnest prayer, with strategic effort and global partnership, keeping our eyes on the goal of Jesus’ glory filling the whole earth. Engagement of every people and place is our initial faith goal; our ultimate aim is fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 – proclamation of the gospel to all peoples (ethné), and the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
About the author: Justin has spent the last 30+ years developing and contributing to various missions efforts including: the World Christian Encyclopedia, the strategicnetwork.org, the Ethné network, and the Movements Database. His research findings and missions articles have been published in several places, and currently publishes a weekly newsletter at justinlong.org.