Tuesday, August 25

When is a group unreached?

Article below from The Network for Strategic Missions by Justin Long. Can you spot the problems and challenges in the following analysis?


One of the difficulties in measuring which groups are unreached and need to be prioritized is the challenge of measuring the definition of an unreached group:

“An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.”
(1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting, www.joshuaproject.net/definitions.php)

“Adequate numbers and resources” is the challenge. What is “adequate”? The original Joshua Project editorial committee selected the criteria of less than 2% Evangelical Christianity and less than 5% Christian...

...For our purposes we need only the AD 2000 figures as follows:
  • Latent Christians (inactive in mission): 1,351,743,000
  • Lay activists (intercessors, givers, short-timers, etc): 642,297,000
  • Pastoral workers (bishops, clergy, pastors, chaplains, etc): 3,969,000
  • Home missionaries (e.g. Americans among Americans): 925,000
  • Cross-cultural home missionaries (e.g. British in England among Somalis): 210,000
  • World C foreign missionaries (in Christianized countries): 306,800
  • World B foreign missionaries (in World B countries): 103,000
  • World A (unevangelized) foreign missionaries: 10,200
Total home missionaries (near-culture + cross-culture) = 925,000 + 210,000 = 1,135,000
Total foreign missionaries = 306,800 + 103,000 + 10,200 = 419,200

Note that this includes missionaries of all traditions and Christians of all traditions. We’ll use this as a global average. Rounded, we can see that there are 1 million home missionaries and 0.4 million foreign for 2 billion Christians,

or 1,000 home missionaries and 400 foreign missionaries for every 2 million believers
or 500 home missionaries and 200 foreign missionaries for every 1 million believers
or 50 home missionaries and 20 foreign missionaries for every 100,000 believers
or 5 home missionaries and 2 foreign missionaries for every 10,000 believers
or 2 home missionaries and 1 foreign missionary for every 5,000 believers.

“What will it take” (Momentum, September 2006) suggests we need 1 worker (foreign or home) who raises up 100 home workers who each reach 1,000 people. If we accept this as a general rule of thumb, then a people group of 1 million people needs:

* 1 (foreign or home) worker to pioneer: which requires at least 5,000 believers
* 100 home workers to fully reach: which requires at least 200,000 believers.

Now, can you spot some of the problems in this analysis? What does this challenge mean for the church? What are the implications?


Strider said...

Well, I have only had one cup of coffee so far this morning so I may be a bit more blurry than usual. But here goes. This guy is focusing on numbers alone and that is always suspect to me. I am not sure I am getting his point but the issue is not how many of us there are- God has often parred numbers down intentionally, remember Gideon? No, the issue is distribution and faith. Are we going where we need to go? In our organization this has been delineated as 'the edge'. Are we on the edge or are we staying in our comfort zones? It doesn't matter how many of us there are, what matters is that those of us God calls go exactly where he calls us and act in faith.

GuyMuse said...


You make a good point about how often we are only tuned to numbers and stats and do not take into consideration the "God factor" that can turn any kind of impossible situation into a overwhelming victory. For me, the article is a wake-up call to the church that says we are primarily focused on our Jerusalem and have given little thought to the "ends of the earth." As you put it, Are we on the edge or are we staying in our comfort zones? Sounds like a good title for a blog post!