If you have been reading this blog lately, then you may have become exhausted by all of the talk about strategy. And a common sentiment that I often here in response to strategy talk is something like, “I think that the main thing is just to love Jesus.” That doesn’t sound too bad. We are all for loving Jesus, right?
The problem with that is that it sweeps under the carpet the only command that Jesus gave after his resurrection and the pressing desire of God that is expressed throughout the Old Testament–that his glory be made known among all nations (ethnic/language people groups). This is only done when we tell them the gospel story of Jesus.
Also, don’t forget that the book of Acts, which is the only reliable history that we have about the behavior of disciples in the decades following the resurrection, is all about obedience and strategy. For those of us that really love Jesus, we demonstrate that love through obedience.
Strategy is not a bad word, and it is very important for the church to put first things first and to implement strategies that advance the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Okay. Moving on for those of you that haven’t clicked to a new page. There are more than 10,000 people groups in the word but, because humans are involved, experts can’t agree on exactly how many; but it doesn’t really matter. The important questions for us to ask are: 1. Where are the language groups that haven’t heard the gospel? and, 2. Are there Christians around them who can communicate the gospel to them better than we can?
Some of the earth is getting evangelized over and over while some is left in the dark.
Most church mission trips go to the Caribbean or South America, for example, because they are easier than going somewhere that is $3000 and twelve time zones away. But, in the last few decades, partly because of these trips and because of awesome work by missionaries, all of those areas have become either reached or are near to people groups that are reached. This certainly doesn’t mean that everyone in the western hemisphere has heard the gospel, but if we were to make that our standard, then no Texan would ever leave Texas and no Californian would ever leave California.
Remember the book of Acts–it is the best guide that we have for Great Commission strategy. In a given area, after Paul and Barnabas had made the first disciples and appointed leadership, they entrusted the church to the Holy Spirit and left.
Like I inferred before, if humans are involved, things are bound to go wrong. Those of us that have lived longer have seen it so many times, and that’s why people feel like they need to have control. People, perhaps wisely, don’t trust people.
But we aren’t talking about people here. We are talking about the Holy Spirit. And when we feel afraid to trust him, we are stepping outside the bounds of faith and are letting fear be the boss. Therefore, Congratulations to the missionaries of the western hemisphere. They have begun a great work that the Lord will see through.
Besides the Americas, the gospel has spread through Europe, most of sub-Sahara Africa, Russia, eastern China, and Oceania. These reached places are colored in green or yellow on the map at the top of this blog (found at this link) and the unreached places are colored in red.
Let me emphasize this again, because it is a concept that can be tough to digest. An unreached people group is one in which the majority of people will live out their entire life without hearing the gospel. In many of the areas where we have worked, in Muslim lands, I would estimate that 99% of the people will never touch a Bible, will never shake hands with a disciple and will not hear the gospel on the radio.
So what? These are real families, not examples in a blog post. If the gospel has saved you, then please find the most strategic way that you can get that life-saving story to those areas marked in red.