A Story of Collaboration: SIM and CSGC

We love stories of collaboration at Mission Central. Recently I heard a good one that I’d like to share. On July 9th I was invited to hear about a project that involves SIM (Serving in Mission), a global missionary sending agency, and the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC). Many of you who have attended Missions Fest Vancouver may be familiar with SIM but the other partner in the story may be less well known. The CSGC, now located at Gordon Conwell University, is “one of the world’s most definitive sources of empirical information on Christianity.” If you’ve never checked out their website, it is worth a visit. The site contains numerous statistics, graphs and infographics that are a big help when thinking and praying about mission in the world.

The CSGC was started by a missionary to Africa named David Barrett. In 1957, Barrett began to study the countries in Africa to establish the religious affiliation of people. His work expanded well beyond the original scope and eventually he had travelled to 212 countries to conduct research. In 1982 he produced the first World Christian Encyclopedia. Then in 2003 the World Christian database was

During the presentation the CSGC’s Data Analyst, Peter Crossing, shared that there are at least 277 variables that reveal whether the Gospel is available, and Christ is known in a community. Things such as whether there are Christians in a community, mass evangelism, Christian broadcasting, mission agencies, even literacy rates and health care can be an indicator.

However, a new initiative from SIM called “Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities” needed more refined information on specific communities. The “Faithful Witness” program places teams in communities where there is little or no Christian witness. Teams provide mutual encouragement and support in challenging settings. Teams are also comprised mostly of workers from the Global South. Not only are the teams assembled for the skills they bring, but, whenever possible they are also multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. In their very care and love for each other they are a witness to Jesus and his Kingdom. To be effective a team needs to understand the context to which they are bringing the Gospel. The request for strategic information on gateway cities became a driver in the creation of dossiers and CSGC enthusiastically took up the challenge.

The creation of dossier is unique for a few reasons. First, the dossier takes a community approach compared to the people group approach that has been commonly used. A dossier is also more complex. It still uses statistical measures, such as the percentage of people who know a Christian, but it also cross-references those statistics with other social data such as human development, literacy rates, primary industries, number of languages spoken, food security, gender inequality, and politics. What emerges is a picture of a community and within that community specific needs. This is a great leap forward for global missionary agencies like SIM because they can then tailor a response to the needs in the community.

This story of collaboration is encouraging. Let’s be part of the story by lifting up the work of CSGC and SIM in prayer. As always be listening for the nudge of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you and your family are called to be a Faithful Witness in a Forgotten Community.


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About the author

Profile photo for John Hall

In 1997 John Hall, his wife Wei, and brother in-law started Eco Outdoor Sports in Metro Vancouver. In 2003 the business was sold, and his family entered a seven-year ‘desert experience’. During that time the Lord impressed on John and his family the importance of hearing and obeying Jesus every day, something that he tries to integrate into everything he does. In 2010 God changed the family’s direction and led him to finish his degree at Regent College in preparation for life as a full-time missionary overseas. That ministry opportunity didn’t develop as planned, as a whole new perspective and participation-in Christ’s mission was born at Missions Fest Vancouver. It’s now a daily occurrence for John’s business background and theological training to get a workout.

John served as the Executive Director at Mission Central (formerly Missions Fest Vancouver) from 2014 to April 2023.

John and Wei live in Richmond, BC. They have two wonderful adult girls. John completed his MA at Regent College in 2010.

The Tapestry Church (Richmond, BC)

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