Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Sociologist Extols Positive Work of Christian Missionaries

Sociologist Robert Woodberry has identified a robust statistical correlation between “conversionary Protestant” missionary activity and the democratization of a country. His conclusion: Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in non-governmental associations.

This was not a popular finding. Even the head of Woodberry’s dissertation committee warned him of the inevitable backlash: “To suggest that the missionary movement had this strong, positive influence on liberal democratization, you couldn’t think of a more unbelievable and offensive story to tell a lot of secular academics.”

But after years of extensive research, Woodberry nevertheless concluded, “Want a blossoming democracy today? The solution is simple—if you have a time machine: Send a 19th-century missionary.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

While Jesus didn’t tell us to go into all the world and make people literate, rich, and democratic, Woodberry’s findings illustrate the overwhelmingly positive influence of missionaries.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Converts More Likely to Share Faith on Regular Basis

Converts (people who have switched religions) who say they share their faith at least weekly: 29 percent.

Those who adhere to the faith of their childhood who say they share their faith ...

[Read More]

Where the Gospel Hasn’t Gone

More than 5,000 people groups are without an indigenous Christian church, according to recent data from Joshua Project. Nearly 2 billion people—more than a quarter of the world’s ...

[Read More]