East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring 1997, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe


Updated Statistics on the Protestant Missionary Presence in the Former Soviet Union

Mark Elliott
  1. Since 1993 the Institute for East-West Christian Studies has identified 296 Western and Korean agencies working in the former Soviet Union and East Central Europe which were not included among the 691 groups listed in The East-West Christian Organizations Directory, edited by Sharon Linzey et al. (Evanston, IL: Berry Publishing, 1993). This gives a total of 987 groups in 1997.
  2. Approximately 561 ministries from abroad currently work in the former Soviet Union. This estimate is based on 377 of the 691 groups in the 1993 Directory known to be working in the former Soviet Union, plus 148 (half of the 296 groups identified since 1993), plus 36 South Korean groups (9 church and 27 parachurch).1 Roughly 90 percent of the agencies are Protestant and the remaining 10 percent are Orthodox and Catholic.
  3. Approximately 4,390 Western missionaries worked in the former Soviet Union in 1995.2
  4. Approximately 5,049 Western missionaries worked in the former Soviet Union in 1996.3
  5. Adding 557 South Korean missionaries gives a 1996 total of 5,606 foreign missionaries in the former Soviet Union.4
  6. Based on a career-to-short-term ratio of 35/65, which was the case in an Institute survey of the 25 largest sending agencies, approximately 1,962 career missionaries from abroad currently serve in the former Soviet Union.
  7. If the 15 republics of the former Soviet Union formed one nation today, the 5,606 Protestant missionaries working there at present would constitute the largest Protestant missionary contingent in a single country worldwide. (No up-to-date breakdown by republics is available.) On the other hand, given a population of approximately 287 million, the present missionary presence in the former Soviet Union, per capita, is less than that in the five countries with the largest Protestant missionary contingents:
 Country Protestant
Missionaries5
Population Population per
Missionary
Former Soviet Union 5,606
287,000,000
51,195
Brazil
3,397
146,200,000
43,038
Japan
3,015
124,760,000
41,380
Philippines
2,958
65,650,000
22,194
Kenya
2,322
29,300,000
12,618
Papua New Guinea
2,278
3,850,000
  1,690

Source: Mark Elliott with Sharyl Corrado, "The Protestant Missionary Presence in the Former Soviet Union," paper prepared for the Keston Institute Conference on Proselytism and Religious Liberty, Oxford, England, 12-16 May 1997. Mark Elliott, editor of the East-West Church and Ministry Report, is professor of history and director of the Institute for East-West Christian Studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.

Notes

  1. E-mail from David Lee, Global Missionary Training Center, Seoul, Korea, to Sharyl Corrado, 3 December 1996.
  2. The total of 4,390 Western missionaries in the former Soviet Union in 1995 is based on 3,190 from the 25 largest agencies. See East-West Church and Ministry Report 3 (Spring 1995), 10; 3 (Fall 1995), 3, plus 1,200 (from 300 agencies with an average of 4 each). Among the hundreds of smaller ministries, several hundred, which are engaged in such support services as publishing, broadcasting, and relief work, have either no missionaries, or no career missionaries stationed in the region. At the same time, hundreds of other smaller agencies would appear to be sponsoring an average of four missionaries each at present. The author wishes to thank Peter and Anita Deyneka of Russian Ministries for their help in arriving at this estimate.
  3. In late 1996 Institute for East-West Christian Studies survey researcher Sharyl Corrado documented a 31 percent one-year increase in the number of Western denominational missionaries in the former Soviet Union, as opposed to parachurch groups, from 471 to 680 in 12 denominations (Assemblies of God, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Free Church, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Salvation Army, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, and The Wesleyan Church). Since it appears that denominational momentum is just now reaching a crescendo, in comparison with parachurch groups which mobilized more quickly and may have peaked earlier, a more likely overall estimate for a 1995-96 increase in the Western missionary force in the former Soviet Union might be 15 percent, which would yield a total of 5,049 (4,390 plus 659).
  4. E-mail from David Lee, Global Missionary Training Center, Seoul, Korea, to Sharyl Corrado, 3 December 1996.

Patrick Johnstone, Operation World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), 644-49; Brian Hunter, ed., Statesman's Yearbook, 132nd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1996). Both the East-West Church and Ministry Report survey and Johnstone's statistics used in this comparison include short-term missionaries. However, the figures are not completely comparable because the total for the former Soviet Union includes short-termers serving 3 to 24 months, whereas Johnstone includes short-termers serving 12 months or more. For a statistical table by country based on Operation World, see "Non-Indigenous Protestant Missionaries in Former Communist States of Eurasia," East-West Church and Ministry Report 2 (Winter 1994), 5.

Mark Elliott, editor of the East-West Church & Ministry Report, is professor of history and director of the Institute for East-West Christian Studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.



Mark Elliott, "Updated Statistics on the Protestant Missionary Presence in the Former Soviet Union," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 5 (Spring 1997), 10.

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1997 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664


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