Saturday, February 15, 2014

statistics in missions

When the article came to my attention in three different ways in a single day last week, I knew I needed to pay attention.  First, I found a thick envelope in our mailbox from my sister-in-law, in which was tucked a copy of the article with a quick note. Later that day, a co-worker emailed me a copy of the article.  And that evening, Mark emailed me a link to an on-line commentary on the very same article.

It is an account of recent statistical evidence compiled by Robert Woodberry revealing that conversionary Protestant missions have impacted the growth of stable democracy in a global way throughout the past 200 years.  According to his exhaustive research, Protestant missions have been a key impetus to initiate religious liberty, growing literacy and education, the spread of print, and social reform.  And all of this has stimulated the growth of democracy in the regions where missions were found.

Woodberry's accumulation of statistical evidence is rocking the boat for many whose prior concept of Protestant missions includes stereotypes of insensitive westerners imposing their culture and beliefs on nationals content in their circumstances, causing more harm than good.

The article is the cover story in the latest issue of Christianity Today (sadly you can't read the entire article without a membership) covering Woodberry's fascinating study .  For an editorial on the article see this shorter commentary by John Stonestreet published on Breakpoint's website on February 3rd. 

Thank you, D, S, and Mark, for sharing this important article!
And for anyone who lives near me, I'd be delighted to share the photo copied version - it's worth the read. 


Rosalie said...

Just read the commentary and it's very interesting. It's a good example of how human nature tends on focus on faults/shortcomings/wrongs and to forget the good, even though the good may surpass by far.

Rosalie said...

Just like if you focused on my wrong word usage above (on instead of to), the rest of what I wrote might not even register.

Diane G said...

It sure is fascinating the way God works things out sometimes! Whether it's "coincidences" or the spread of justice and equality.

us5 said...

yes, Rosalie - we so often do exactly that - look for faults, ignoring the good that God is doing despite our human fallibility!