1. Progress of, or Response to the Gospel
2. Population Size
3. Country Location - persecution, economics, education and spiritual environments
4. Ministry Tool Availability - Bible translation, broadcasts, etc...
Joshua Project has been around for years but I have not seen the results and numbers until now. I was encouraged by seeing the number so that I know how to pray for missions. I was also encourage to see the availability of the information on the Joshua Project website. Paul had a strategy for his ministry. He said that he was praying to go to Rome. He had a burden to go to Rome and share in the church life there.
God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.
---Romans 1:9-12 (NIV)
He had travel plans, he had communication plans and he prayed about those plans. I beleive it is important not just to have a strategy, but to have a prayer life developing that strategy. Perhaps I would find a country in need of the gospel through the numbers, for instance Yemen, but if I am missing the element of prayer that is the same as using strategy to win at chess or baseball. God may be with the chess player or the baseball player, but that is not ministry, it is competition. Any work of God needs to be a work of prayer.
I encourage you to read data like that of the Joshua Project to help guide your prayer life.
We live in a world that is rich in media but poor in prayer. Give us prayer lives that exceed our ability to crunch numbers and database facts. Lord, guide our efforts to spread the gospel in this generation.
Your Servant Terry