NAMB corrects missionary count data to GCR Task Force
Mar 9, 2010

Editor’s note: The revised GCRTF progress report can be viewed here. The corrected text appears on page 19.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (NAMB/BP)—The North American Mission Board has informed the Great Commission Task Force that data it provided last summer regarding the geographic distribution of missionaries in North America contained a significant error. The NAMB error resulted in incorrect data being published in the Feb. 22 "progress report" issued by the GCRTF.

The progress report depicts on page 19 how Southern Baptist resources are distributed throughout the United States. That data indicates that at the end of 2008 3,515 missionaries served in the 14 states considered to be where Southern Baptists are strongest and only 1,735 missionaries serving in the remaining states across the US. In the GCRTF report, the 14 states are depicted in blue and the others in red.

In actuality, 2,573 missionaries, or 48 percent, served in the 14 blue states in 2008 and 2,733, or 52 percent, served in the remaining red states.

Another 133 NAMB missionaries serve in Canada. If Canada is included in the overall numbers, 2,866 of NAMB's missionaries serve outside the blue states, making the percentage 53 percent in North America serving outside the 14 blue states.

The error was discovered by NAMB staff on March 5 while responding to an inquiry from The Tennessean, the Nashville daily newspaper.

"As soon as we discovered the mistake, we notified the GCR Task Force," Richard Harris, NAMB's interim president, told Baptist Press.

"We will leave it to the GCR Task Force members and others to determine the significance of these new numbers. We just wanted to provide this information as soon as we discovered it so the rest of the discussion can include the correct data," Harris said.

Ronnie Floyd, GCRTF chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., told BP the change in missionary numbers did not alter the major concern of the task force.

"[W]e spend 2/3 of the Cooperative Program dollars on 1/3 of the population and conversely spend only 1/3 of the Cooperative Program dollars on 2/3 of the population in the United States," Floyd said.

Floyd told BP the online manuscript of the progress report available at has been updated with the corrected NAMB information.

The error occurred when NAMB double-counted the states of Texas and Virginia. Both states have two, independently operated state Baptist conventions with which Southern Baptists are affiliated. The data spreadsheet used listed each of those state conventions with their individual subtotals and also an overall total from the state. Both the subtotals and the totals from those states were added when the overall missionary count was computed, leading to a double-count for the two states.

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