Was the early church a missionary church? Matthew 28:19-20 leads me to believe it was:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Can we take this to mean that if Jesus Christ's church is on the earth today that it should still be involved in missionary work (ie. teaching all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe the commandments)?

If so, which churches today are the most missionary-minded (in terms of the number of missionaries they send)?

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    This is unfortunately going to be largely subjective. What measurement are you looking for? Amount of investment per capita? Number of missionaries per capita? Does building things count?
    – Narnian
    Jan 28, 2014 at 13:35
  • 1
    Good question but I don't think this is answerable. There might be some websites which have some reliable data regarding this.
    – Mawia
    Jan 28, 2014 at 14:13
  • @Narnian I realize that this question may take some research, but I am interested in number of missionaries alone. Which church has the most? Does anyone have a number for the Jehovah's Witnesses?
    – user9652
    Jan 28, 2014 at 17:29
  • 1
    Would make more sense if some of these answers had actual data as reference
    – user3468
    Jan 29, 2014 at 14:45
  • 1
    Are you looking for effort proportional to the size of the church? Jan 31, 2014 at 13:45

4 Answers 4


Currently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has over 82,000 full time proselytizing missionaries and another 10,000 service or humanitarian missionaries. All serve on a volunteer basis and are required to pay most of their expenses. Financial assistance is also available for those who have limited resource. See here for more info Aside from full time missionary service, all members are taught to be missionary minded in their everyday lives and always look for opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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    This is an interesting answer but this is only one organization. To answer this question fully "which churches today are the most missionary-minded (in terms of number of missionaries)?" comparison data from a few organisations would be ideal.
    – user3468
    Jan 30, 2014 at 8:29
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    @gerdi I gave those numbers in my answer and links. The Mormon church has over 82,000 fulltime proselytizing missionaries in roughly 400 different missions around the world. Most of those missionaries serve roughly for 18 months to 2 years. Those are the numbers for our church.
    – Nelson
    Jan 30, 2014 at 14:26
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    @gerdi Members of other churches are free to inform us of their numbers. These are ours. There is no other church that I am aware of with as many fulltime proselytizing missionaries as the Mormon Church. So using that as the metric the Mormon church would be the most missionary minded Christian church in the world.
    – Nelson
    Jan 30, 2014 at 21:13
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    @gerdi. Nelson has given an answer for his church. Obviously it would be silly of him to begin speaking about other churches he does not belong to. If you have data from other churches, please display it so that we CAN compare.
    – Vladhagen
    Feb 7, 2014 at 1:04
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    @Vladhagen It still does not answer the question . This answer in its current form can be a comment as outlined by stackexchange.
    – user3468
    May 4, 2015 at 7:49

Denominational Missions

The Pentecostal Assemblies of God (2800 cross cultural workers) and the Baptist International Missions Board (5200 cross cultural workers) are among the larger denominational missions movements. In denominational missions work missionaries generally function more as project managers, overseeing broader missions teams and budgets, and therefore smaller numbers reflect larger scale works.

Interdenominational Missions

Parachurch, interdenominational (primarily evangelical), missions organizations also represent significant percentage of Christian missions.

Larger parachurch missions organizations include Youth With A Mission (20,000 staff) and Campus Crusade For Christ (25,000 staff).

Note about JW and LDS Missions

The statistics offered here about the LDS and JW groups are a bit misleading because they are including work that is not cross cultural or pioneering in nature, which is the historical definition of missions. They are including all of their evangelistic and charitable work. Most churches wouldn't consider those activities as missions work, rather a function of the local church. This is an issue of poor semantics.

It also needs to be noted that JW and LDS missions efforts are centralized with a controlled hierarchical structure, while denominational and interdenominational missions are decentralized into, literally, tens of thousands of locally or independently governed missions organizations representing an estimated 400,000 missionaries.


  • Hi, Jeremy. Welcome to Christianity.SE. Unfortunately, this answer is off-topic as per the policies of our community. The only way a place like this can exist without degenerating into a wretched hive of scum and trollery is to officially consider any organized group that considers themselves to be Christian as "true Christians," even ones we don't personally agree with. Please edit your answer to be in line with our standards, or it's likely to be flagged by a community member and deleted. Thanks! :)
    – Mason Wheeler
    Jan 1, 2015 at 16:11
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    – user3961
    Jan 1, 2015 at 19:14
  • I'm taken the liberty of editing this per @MasonWheeler's suggestion. It was a minor edit and I preserved the point you were trying to make. I also formatted your links/sources. Of course, you may edit this again if you link to add content or change the edit I made.
    – user3961
    Jan 1, 2015 at 19:15
  • 2
    Don't most LDS missionaries work cross culturally?
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 1, 2015 at 23:03


80 000+ missionaries in serving in more than 400 missions throughout the world. REF

Jehovah's Witnesses

Total hours spent in the field ministry during their past service year (September 2012 - August 2013) 1,841,180,235 REF


Total number of foreign missionaries 419,000 REF


The number of lay missionaries in the world is 335,502 units, REF

I would find it extremely hard to find actual usable statistical data on this.

Just a side stat which i find relevant only because Jesus basically spend his time healing people

MSF Doctors without Borders

MSF provides medical care to approximately 8 million people through more than 400 projects in nearly 70 countries worldwide.

Although they do not baptize people, they most certainly follow a very selfless dedication to the upliftment of humans without prejudice or pride. Which i kinda think jesus was ultimately teaching REF

  • 1
    The reference to MSF is irrelevant. Their mission statement could easily be stated by a religion other than Christianity. Also,"Christian" reference is very broad. The question specifically asked for specific churches...there are thousands of non Catholic Christian "churches."
    – user5286
    Feb 7, 2014 at 1:14
  • I spent a good bit of time trying to find stats on this subject and that is as close as i got. Please if you can find better stats that would be great. Please note that the reference to MSF was a "side note" just for anyone interested. I did try and format the text to indicate as such. If you read the question it does not actually say "specific churches" as you state. I included churchs of which i found information on the subject. And even the information found, is found wanting.
    – user3468
    Feb 7, 2014 at 7:12
  • Why are you comparing JW hours to "Christian" (and somehow not Catholic?) people. To compare apples to apples, you'd need to start with 3,670,440,000 hours, but then add in all the short-term missionaries (which service hours are) plus personal evangelism efforts. Your numbers are beyond bogus Jan 16, 2015 at 14:40
  • 1
    Quick click through of your link says that what you call "Christian" is just Baptist. There are more Christians than Baptists - and that doesn't even say which Baptist convention, of which there are several, and it is unclear which are being counted. My guess is that someone took the number of IMB missionaries, but your numbers are horrible. Jan 16, 2015 at 14:42
  • @YuletideGeek Like i have stated in my previous comment , i searched high and low for these numbers. I even stated that the numbers could be found wanting. Please instead of just bashing it could you maybe be slightly more constructive and provide better sources to either dispute or improve on the answer
    – user3468
    Jan 18, 2015 at 15:57

Jehovah's Witnesses are very focused on preaching and teaching the good news of the kingdom, including missionary work. (Matthew 24:14, 1 Timothy 2:4, Acts 10:34, 35)

Here are the worldwide statistics for the preaching and teaching activity of Jehovah's Witnesses in the past servivce year according the 2014 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses (the service year is from September - August, so these stats are for September 2012 - August 2013):

  • Lands 239
  • Publishers 7,965,954 (number of people actively preaching and teaching)
  • Total hours spent in the field ministry during the past service year 1,841,180,235
  • Bible studies during the past service year 9,254,963.

That same yearbook shows this information for the website jw.org which contains lots of Bible based learning resources:

  • 316 Languages in which the Web site is available
  • 220,000+ Number of Web pages on the site
  • 600 Languages in which downloadable publications are available
  • 130 Requests for Bible studies per day from over 230 countries
  • 5 million+ Videos viewed per month
  • 1.5 million Downloads per day
  • 900,000+ Visits per day from over 230 countries

Here are some statistics found in the April 2014 Watchtower magazine for the printing of each issue:

  • 45,944,000
  • 213 Languages

All of Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to have a regular, active share in preaching and teaching.

As far as missionary work goes, according to the lesson "What Is Missionary Service?" from the brochure "Who Are Doing Jehovah’s Will Today?" since 1943, more than 8,000 Gilead-trained missionaries have been sent out to witness in some 200 lands. Unlike most people who claim to do "missionary" work, these missionaries primarily focus on preaching and teaching the Bible. That number of more than 8,000 only includes those sent out after training at Gilead. There are many more who make sacrifices to preach where there is a greater need than where they come from.

Jehovah's Witnesses imitate the greatest missionary, Jesus Christ. He was willing to leave his home and life in the heavens to live as a human for a time. (John 6:38; Philippians 2:7) According to Jesus own words the main purpose of this was to "declare the good news of the kingdom". (Luke 4:43)

For more information please see the lesson "How Can You Recognize True Worship?" from that same brochure.

  • 4
    Again no data against other denominations. This question is based on the assumption that you all understand what a plural is.
    – user3468
    Jan 31, 2014 at 7:54

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