I love writing this article. I wait all year for our final numbers so I can share them with you. I am a proud alumnus of Hyles Anderson College, but unfortunately, three or four decades ago, we, justly or unjustly, acquired the reputation of inflating our numbers. But I am a numbers guy, a bean-counter, if you will. If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then for me, a statistic is worth ten thousand.
Why Have Statistics?
When I started Final Frontiers in 1986, before many of our current supporters were born, supporting nationals was unheard of. At that time, the term “national pastors” had not yet been coined, so it was difficult to explain our purpose. When I would speak at churches, whether all day on a Sunday or for three or four sessions during a conference, it was common afterward for the pastor to ask me, “What exactly is it that you do?” As I said, it is challenging to introduce a new concept or philosophy because it usually takes a decade or more to catch on. Or maybe I was just that incompetent at explaining my ministry.
We became the first ministry in America founded to support national church planters (as opposed to supporting national pastors). I think we were number 2 in that field. There was much opposition to introducing a “new” form of missions. What we do is in the New Testament but had been overlooked for centuries. Mainly, the nay-sayers claimed that nationals would change their doctrines for support. They were called “rice Christians” to imply such. Then, others questioned how you could know what they were accomplishing. It always amazed me that they did not understand that nationals could write letters as easily as American missionaries.
Beneath the leafy canopy in Zuzular, Honduras, an open-air church buzzes with community spirit, as villagers come together in fellowship and worship.
To demonstrate the validity of supporting the nationals, I began to list their monthly statistics to answer all the questions. The data was compiled monthly because, at that time, I was producing a monthly Progress Report in the era when “cut and paste” was done with scissors and glue, not a keyboard. Thank God for quarterly deadlines and computers. (Not to mention staff, digital cameras, and email.)
So, as I share with you now the results of the past year, please know that it is not to boast but to give God the glory and to honor the work of the nationals and the sacrifice of those of you who contributed with your prayers and finances. I frequently get credit for this ministry’s massive accomplishments, which is unfair. The preachers do the work, the staff handles the accountability, and the sponsors give the funding. I merely talk and write about it. We are like an hourglass, receiving from some and passing it on to others. We stand in the middle and, for some reason, get all the credit while deserving none of it.
Jon stands united with the legacy of Akha preachers in Thailand, spanning three generations of faith and dedication.
So, What Were Our Recorded Statistics for 2023?
Well, understand that they are based on the compilation of reports received. And while they may seem unbelievable to some, they are documented and verified. There are many similar ministries now that have emulated our methods and purpose. Most, unfortunately, fund only a small number of men in a tight, geographical location. Others have spread out a bit to help more men in more areas. Our ministry currently operates the funding of church planters in over 80 countries and has more than 29,000 church planters in our network. With that many men, not just pastoring but actively planting new churches and training new church planters, I feel our numbers should be even more dramatic. But they are what they are, and here they are:
This number above, 6 minutes and 41 seconds, equals 401 seconds. Divide that by the conversion rate of 10.9 seconds (see Salvation statistics), and you will see that each new house church started averages 38 newly saved people, and frankly, in over 90% of cases, that number does not include children; it is ADULTS only.
It creates confusion when we announce that “x” number of churches have been started. Americans interpret “churches” as buildings with steeples and padded pews, choir robes, youth ministries, paved parking lots, etc. Our understanding of a “church” is not based on Western tradition but on Biblical examples. According to our understanding of scripture, a church is “a group of newly saved and baptized believers, meeting together regularly for worship, under the leadership of a pastor.” In short, a church is not a facility or a corporation but a congregation.
New Villages Evangelized
1 every 2 minutes 8 seconds
In the heart of the village, the power of community and faith comes together, as villagers unite at an evangelism event.
A village may be just that, but it is the generic term we use that may also include a barrio or slum area in a large city.
1 every 10.9 seconds
So, last year, every eleven seconds – of every day – of every week – of every month, we saw a person, primarily adults, accept Christ as their Savior!
This is our actual CPC (Cost per Conversion) rate. This number tells the donors who give to our Great Commission Fund or are still personally supporting specific preachers that for every dollar they gave last year, 5.5 souls, primarily adults, converted to Jesus from their pagan idols and false religions. (60 seconds divided by 10.0 equals 5.5)
We seldom talk about the number of converts our preacher produces. That is because establishing a church to baptize, teach, and produce more souls is of greater value than a single conversion. Americans tend to lead souls to Christ and then walk away. But the fulfillment of the Great Commission requires more than that. It includes baptizing them and teaching them (in a church setting). We do not fulfill the Great Commission simply by soulwinning. Imagine if you hire a contractor to build your house, and in several months, he comes to you proudly to declare the number of bricks he has laid. Fantastic! You are pleased with his statistics, the look of the house, his tireless efforts, and the way he so expertly applied the mortar between each brick as if Michaelangelo had applied it. But when you open the door and enter, you are shocked; there are no walls to divide the rooms, no tile or carpet on the floor, no sink, tub, appliances, etc. It is only a shell of what it should be and could be if done correctly. According to the Great Commission, which was spoken verbally and audibly by our Lord Jesus Christ as his departing words, soul-winning is only one-third of the Great Commission. Do you expect to hear a hearty, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” if you only completed one-third of the race? I’m only asking.
1 every 29 seconds
Most ministries worldwide do not baptize immediately. Remember that the Ethiopian eunuch is our example of immediate baptism. Still, he had probably spent weeks in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection, was undoubtedly of the Jewish faith, and had an Old Testament background of baptism and its symbolism. New converts from pagan faiths do not and need time to be taught. Furthermore, right or wrong, most churches want to give the new convert time to “prove” or demonstrate their new faith, assuring they do not claim Christ today and return to idolatry tomorrow.
You probably didn’t know this:
As I share the following stats with you, please know that these are numbers explicitly based on our sponsors’ funding for the church planters. And like Tunnels to Towers, for far more than a decade, we have given 95¢ out of every dollar to the preachers, as designated. For those of you who slept during math classes, which means we give 95% to the cause and function administratively with only 5%.
The following numbers are calculated from the statistics reported by our preachers, divided only by the funding given, especially for the support of the church planters. It does not include funding and results from Bibles distributed, Touch a Life, special projects, etc. In other words, thousands of children saved in our feeding centers are not factored into this. Souls saved because of our Bible Smugglers ministry in the Middle East and beyond are not included either. Please note that we raise $6 to print and distribute a Bible in Islamic countries. Based on the numbers given by our preachers–hold on, this is going to be hard to believe, but they say that EVERY BIBLE they give results in the conversion from Islam to Christianity of NINE ADULTS. But again, those numbers have not been factored in. Last year alone, we distributed 43,260 Bibles, translating to an additional 389,340 salvation decisions. So, if you think the numbers we report are astounding, imagine what they would be if we included these other statistics!
Incredible. God is so good! But there’s more. All I have shared so far is how we “redeemed the time” last year; now, I want to share how we utilized the funding. And if you have ever heard the term “bang for the buck,” you are about to see what it means! Let me take the numbers mentioned earlier, but this time, I will apply them not to “time periods” but to “dollars.”
Our “Cost Per …” Rate for 2023 Shows That it Took:
For Each Salvation Decision
For A New Village Evangelized
For Each Baptism
For Planting/Starting Each New House Church
For fun, I encourage you, who are sponsors, to take the monthly amount you give and divide it by these numbers above, and you will see what YOU and YOUR FAMILY accomplished last year.
In closing, there are several things to keep in mind:
These statistics do not reflect the lifetime of our ministry but only the year 2023. To see the lifetime numbers, refer to the back page.
From now on, the statistics listed on the back page will include numbers and the “Cost Per” rates for each category.
As wonderful as this report has been, and I suppose now you understand why I look forward to writing it each year, keep in mind that it is not about us; it is about the funding you give to the preachers that we find, vet, train, and hold accountable. As support levels to our Great Commission Fund continue to increase, we will see the accomplishments of these preachers, their Timothys, and Bible Women increase. And the great thing about giving to the Great Commission Fund is that you are not locked into a monthly amount. You can give what you want when you want to give it, and we will combine it with the gifts of others to support more of these men and their teams. I pray more of you will come on board with support so that we can do more for our Lord as we see our night approaching.
From Him the power, to Him the glory!