Schemes for evangelizing the world for Christ have a dismal history of failure, according to missions researcher David Barrett.
Since the time of Jesus, about 300 plans to Christianize the world have been formulated, and 250 of them "collapsed or fizzled out within five, 10 or 15 years," Barrett told members of the American Society of Missiology at a mid-June meeting in Pittsburgh.
The remaining 50, those of modern-day Christians, "seem barely possible of achievement" unless Christians work together in "completely new and unprecedented ways," said Barrett, a consultant at the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board in Richmond.
He noted that numerous contemporary plans for world evangelization focus on the year 2000. As examples, he cited a Roman Catholic plan that uses satellite TV, an interdenominational effort to take Christian literature "into every home by 2000" and a Southern Baptist project called "Bold Mission Thrust."
In past failures, Barrett said, "In almost all cases, Christians and their churches were directly to blame: administrative fiascos, personality clashes, irrelevant doctrinal disagreements, prayerlessness, apathy, shortages of funds, embezzlements, absence of workers, rise of other agendas . . . . "
The overriding problem is the failure of Christians to coordinate their plans, he said. He did not comment on the call by the chief executive of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board to 36 other Christian groups to discuss plans for an information-sharing network.