Newer mission agencies are more likely to be focused on social action projects than evangelism and proclamation, according to a study.
The study, compiled by Eddie Arthur, of Wycliffe Bible Translators, looked at the UK mission agency sector and found that organisations established after 1971 were smaller in size than their predecessors, both financially and in terms of their scope, and less likely to be evangelistic.
Historic mission agencies were found to offer long and short-term mission opportunities, and be active in sending missionaries. They also had a broad worldwide focus.
By contrast, the newer organisations were more likely to be involved in only one or two social action-driven projects undertaken in a single location.
In the sample of 144 agencies analysed for the study, only 51 organisations were established before 1970.
Despite the proliferation of smaller mission agencies after this period, Arthur said they were having a "limited impact on the sector as a whole". They also receive a smaller share of donations from Christians.
"This pattern is an indication as to which agencies the British Christian public are interested in supporting," he said.
Only 49 of the agencies surveyed (34%) actually send missionaries and the study predicts that the move away from large-scale evangelistic mission agencies will continue into the future.
Arthur also said that the "stagnation" of the UK evangelical church was likely to contribute to financial challenges for mission agencies, and make recruitment harder.
"It is likely that many more small, entrepreneurial agencies focussing on one project in one location will come into being," he said.
"However, these agencies will be supported by those who are close to them and will have a limited impact on the sector as a whole.
"The movement away from evangelism and towards social action will continue. Though a number of medium-large agencies will maintain an evangelistic focus; these are the agencies that are most likely to continue to send missionaries from the UK, while other agencies are unlikely to send missionaries."
The study can be read here in full