Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

There is good news regarding the “good news.”

The latest edition of Operation World reported that evangelicals numbered 84.5 million (2.8% of the world’s population) in 1960, but in 2000 they were 420 million (6.9%). Evangelical Christianity is the world’s fastest growing major religion even in areas traditionally closed to missionaries.

In the Islamic world, North Africans have been turning to Christ in the last decade–perhaps explaining at least in part the desire for reform throughout the region. Middle East Media reports surging interest in Christian literature, while in Indonesia the church is estimated to have grown by 20 million since organized attacks against Christians began in 1998.

Latin America’s evangelicals now number 60 million people, two-thirds of whom are Pentecostals. Responding not only to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised within their own borders, they have been carrying the gospel overseas to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

In the countries of the former Soviet Union, the Alliance for Saturation Church Planting and the CoMission, a cooperative effort of 35 denominations and agencies, reports 2500 new church plants in four years, including 767 in the Ukraine alone. Ukrainians are now sending workers to 11 unreached areas, including Kazakhstan.

In Asia, the church in China has gone from 30 million in 1949 when the communists took power to more than 100 million today. In India there is a vibrant and brave missionary movement of 200 Indian agencies and several thousand missionaries reaching out to their own tribal peoples, and also to Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, and the disputed Cashmere Region.

Africa is the most Christian continent in all the world today. In Kenya, nearly 50% of the people claim to be evangelicals. Nigeria is sending missionaries throughout the world, but particularly to Arab North Africa.

The world as we know it has been turned upside down. Once the Global North was predominantly Christian. Today, it is the Global South. Nearly 80% of all evangelicals live in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and they are more engaged in mission than ever before. North America is being rivaled by South Korea, Brazil, China, India, and Nigeria as the leading sender of missionaries.

This doesn’t mean we are being relieved of our duties, nor are we unnecessary in the task of global evangelism. What it does indicate is that our role is changing from leaders to participants, and that the way missions is being done will continue to change significantly.

Report 33 to the US National Conference, which you can download in PDF format, compiles statistics for the year 2010. Of the 177 churches in the United States, 160 submitted the required annual reports for 2010 (due back in February). The statistics for the churches that reported show:

Total Attendance: 21,242
Total Membership: 16,003
Total Converts: 1,493
Total Baptisms: 779
Total Income: $32.6 million
Total Expenses: $30.9 million

The PDF file also lists every church individually, giving the following information:

  • Church name, location, and pastor
  • 2009 and 2010 attendances, and how much it went up or down
  • 2010 membership
  • 2010 converts
  • 2010 baptisms
  • 2010 total income
  • 2010 total expenses

You’ll also find:

  • A list of the 25 largest churches in 2010 by attendance, and a comparison with their attendance in 2000.
  • A list of the churches which have grown at least 10% since 2000 (there are 49 of them).

Phil Whipple, bishop

When I came into this position as bishop in 2009, I decided I wanted to see things for myself. One of my goals for these past two years was to get into all of our churches and meet our pastors on their turf. I was able to accomplish that goal, visiting all of the United Brethren churches in the United States. It was an enjoyable journey.

Here are some of the things I have learned and observed during my travels.


I found our pastors to be enjoyable people with a strong love for the Lord and His church. They are mostly male and of the baby boom generation. They are committed to their families and have a fairly strong commitment to the UB church.

We have some strong leaders among us and many who want to learn how to lead more effectively.


It is no surprise that many of our churches are in rural locations. Most of them have been maintained very well, both inside and outside. We have many who are working at developing their facilities to reflect the changes that have emerged in the methodology of doing church today.


We are slowly and with some struggles moving into a balanced style of worship in many churches. We have some that are far ahead of others and some that are very traditional.

We have many good cooks among us. I have attended many potlucks and have found some wonderful dishes.

Our people are friendly, but we must do a better job of opening the front door through outreach and closing the back door through effective assimilation and discipleship. We must move discipleship away from just a learning experience to a lived-out relationship with Jesus that impacts all that we do.

Lay Leaders

We have some sharp leaders on some of our leadership teams at the local church level. They are made up of men and women who have a desire to see the church move forward and impact their community.

A number of churches are changing their structure to an accountability governance model.

The Cluster System

I have met with a number of our cluster groups. The cluster system is still a work in progress, but it has made some huge strides forward in the last two years.

Denny Miller has helped to keep the connection with our cluster leaders. We have many cluster leaders who are doing a great job with their cluster, and who are being the first point of contact when issues arise.

Overall Assessment

I have concluded that while we have some significant issues, we have a bright hope for the future.

I was impressed by the warm hearts from so many of you. I also saw churches and people engaged in the Great Commission. This is happening in some locations but clearly needs to be the rallying cry for UB churches everywhere, so that we reach the people Christ wants us to reach in these days.

I believe the commitment to the Great Commission is improving. We need to move further into the implementation of reaching people for Christ and growing strong disciples in our churches.

I want us to remain committed to our confession of faith and our core values. At the same time, I want us to be willing to aggressively move into the flow of God’s Spirit to see the church advance. We began as a movement of the Spirit of God, and that is where we must return.

A team of 15 persons are currently in Poland, helping to conduct an English Camp for teens in Kutno, Poland. They are working with Global Ministries endorsed staff Arek and Donna Delik. Donna sent a note on June 29 saying, “We are in the middle of English camp, and we are very thankful for the team from United Brethren church, who have given themselves 100% to the teenagers in the camp and show a lot of love to them. Some of the team members even sacrificed their spare time for ‘ice-cream’ to help Arek do the flooring in the new church building. We are really blessed by them.”

Donna reports that work is coming along well on the church building. After three months of demolition and cleaning up on the building they purchased last fall, construction began in earnest in April. “The roof construction is in its final stage of completion. Now the building looks quite different from the original one–taller, more spacious and functioning. Nonetheless, it is still far from finished. The metamorphosis has just begun.”

The team from the United States participated in the second service held in the unfinished building.

” It was another beautiful day. We enjoyed having the roof above our heads protecting us from the strong sun. We hope that we won’t be worshipping in this building only every few months. We are praying that we could have our normal service in this building permanently very soon. We are aiming to get the worship hall ready by the end of this year; however that means we have to finish all the basic construction and facilities like electricity, heating, bathroom, etc., first. We really need god to help us accomplish the impossible.”

You can download the Deliks’ June 2011 PDF newsletter, which includes many photos of the construction work and other information.