Since the early 1950s, data has been collected on North American mission organizations. It began as a simple directory of agencies and grew into a handbook published every 3–5 years with over 600 pages. It went through many changes over the decades. Missio Nexus published the last print copy in 2016 – the 22nd Edition of the North American Mission Handbook. It recorded data on more than 900 mission organizations across the United States and Canada.
As we planned the next edition, it became clear that it was time to shift in how the material was put together and distributed. We decided to move to an all-digital publication for the 2021 data release. This reflects the times – we embrace the digital age. It also eases costs for production and purchases making the information more accessible to more people.
The other significant factor that affected the 2021 data release was difficulty in getting updated information on the scale of past publications. After trying multiple methods to obtain information, we secured data on 367 mission organization from the United States and Canada, rather than the more than 900 number that appeared previously. Because of this, we will not show trend information in contrast with past years. In addition, we also shifted from country specific data on where people are serving to regional numbers in order to protect people serving in places with greater security concerns.
Lastly, when we started collecting data, we did not foresee how greatly 2020 would be affected by a global pandemic. Limits on global travel and other pandemic-related restrictions affected figures, especially short-term mission numbers. However, numbers from the organizations that participated appear to be strong and reported attrition does not seem to be outside of past trends. We have heard many organizations anecdotally report having strong years of recruitment and fundraising. We remain confident that God is not done with missions from North America, and we are hopeful that the next update will see increased participation in the work of the Great Commission.
Research and Analysis – Michael VanHuis (Vice President, Missio Nexus)
Charts and Graphics – Michael VanHuis & Kurtis Amundson (Dir. of Communications, Missio Nexus)
Editing – Heather Pubols (Editor, EMQ)