Center for World's Unreached in India, Says Global Church Expert

DALLAS, Texas – India is the statistical center of gravity for the population that has never heard of Jesus Christ, reported a preeminent expert on global Christianity Saturday.

The demographic term "statistical center of gravity" means there is an equal number of a people or type of people to the north, south, east and west of a specific point, which in the case of unreached people is found in India.

For Christianity, the statistical center of gravity is found in Mali and is moving towards Nigeria.

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"The thing that strikes me is the enormous geographical distance between these [Christian and unreached centers], but it also represents to me a cultural distance," commented Dr. Todd Johnson, research fellow and director of the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.

Johnson was speaking Saturday at the International Society for Frontier Missiology (ISFM) conference being held Sept. 15-17 in Dallas. The title of this year's conference is India: Debating Global Missiological Flashpoints.

"To me this picture is not just a bunch of statistics being mapped," Johnson noted, "But there is something here that is speaking to us about this gap [between Christians and unreached center]."

The former editor of the International Journal of Frontier Missiology pointed out that lack of contact between Christians and non-Christians is a "serious breach" in biblical responsibility.

"Christians have to live and know and listen and work among all the people of the world," emphasized the global church expert.

Johnson pointed to several statistics which highlight the great potential to reach non-Christians, but the failure of believers to share the Good News with people of other faiths.

He noted how:

• Research indicates the most responsive people to Christianity are Hindu, Muslim, Buddhists;
• Most Christian outreach never reach non-Christians – over 90 percent of all Christian evangelism are aimed at other Christians; and
• 86 percent of the world's Hindus, Muslim, and Buddhists do not personally know a Christian.

"I think it is an interesting irony that God himself has prepared the peoples for the Gospel message, but we tend to be slow in contacting and being incarnational witness among these peoples," Johnson concluded.

Other speakers at the conference include Dr. Ralph D. Winter, founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission and ISFM; Herb Hoefer, former missionary to India for nearly 20 years; and Jim Slack, consultant and analyst of global evangelism and church growth at the International Mission Board (IMB)'s Department of Research.

Frontier mission is an area of missiology which focuses on reaching the people with the least access to the Christian gospel. Innovative strategies and cutting-edge mission are characteristics of this field of mission.

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