To Fill The Earth With Faith

by Chris Maynard
Posted on 1st January 2017

If we want to fill the Earth with faith, where should we plant churches?

Mission is now "Everywhere to everywhere". It is a useful phrase to break to old mindset of "the west to the rest", but it does not really help us decide where to go. "Reaching the Unreached Peoples" is certainly a key goal, but taken to extreme it seems to exclude most of Europe as a mission field, and that is plain crazy for many of us who live here.

Where should we plant churches?

The 10/40 Window remains a needy area - a great way to focus our attention. But the Philippines are in the window with 12% evangelicals, and the Czech Republic is not, with evangelicals less than 1% of the population.

Where should we plant churches?

Does the answer have to be the same for everyone? Should we encourage United Kingdom, Nigerian, and Indian churches all in the same direction?

Can we be a little more sensible, wise, and sober-minded about this?

In the Global Church Planting Network ( we have ventured to try. We knew we wanted to saturate the whole world with evangelical churches. We knew there are evangelicals already in every country of the world. What we didn't know was who needs to move out of their country if we are going to get the job done. And who still has too much to do within their own borders? The harvest is growing and the number of workers is growing. Because both harvest and workers are unevenly spread the answers are no longer intuitive, as they were a hundred years ago.

We modelled the situation using figures from Operation World. If every evangelical on earth (North and South, rich and poor, young and old) takes an equal share of the work of planting churches, what would that look like? The document "To Fill the Earth with Faith" ( shows the result. (We modelled a "church planting" approach, but if you prefer to think of "evangelizing" or "discipling" the proportions are still valid. The crucial assumption is that every individual on earth should encounter the Christian faith through personal evangelical witness.)

There are some interesting things that come out of this. Before we started I did not know if we here in the UK should still be mobilizing for international evangelization, or whether we now have too much catching up to do here and should even seek help from abroad. The answer seems to be that we are still comparatively well off for evangelical manpower and should be planting churches both at home and abroad in roughly equal numbers. On the other hand most of our European neighbours need a lot of help. Even though we have a lot to do in our own country, if we want to fill the whole earth with faith then the United Kingdom should probably be Europe's biggest source of international evangelization.

We were also interested to see what emphasis we should place on "unreached" or "least-reached" people groups - without giving them any inherent priority. In many Asian countries 99% of new churches need to be among least-reached peoples. In Ireland less than 1% of the new churches need to be among the least-reached because the nominally Christian majority is considered "reached". Here in the UK the figure is around 10%. This is because of the large minorities in our country that have come from places like South Asia and have retained their distinctive non-Christian cultures. They are some of the least reached of the world right here in our midst.

When we go abroad, the picture changes. You can find a list of countries that need the most help on page 12 of "To Fill the Earth with Faith" in the right hand column. Most of these countries have large numbers of the least-reached peoples. So about 80% of those church planters and evangelists that are sent abroad from any country (the UK included) should expect to live and work among the least-reached. Otherwise we will be filling only part of the world with faith. Page 12 is also a useful guide to sending as we pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest fields.

Our Father in heaven, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your Church, as in heaven so on earth, fill this world with the knowledge of your Son.

Chris is a freelance information worker specialising in global church information. He has worked with Operation World, Global Church Planting Network and Center for Mission Mobilization. His particular passion is to use information to support mobilization and good deployment decisions.