by Mikel Berger
The past two weeks have been a great celebration of what God is doing through our church body under Christ’s command in Matthew 28, the Great Commission. Be sure to read last week's blog post by the chair of our mission team, Daryl Starr, to see some ways you can pray and get involved. As we learned, you can go or you can send. There is not an option to sit on the sidelines.
We learned this lesson from Romans 10. It has driven a conviction in me as I’ve been studying it pretty intently for about the last six months.
The best place to explain where this conviction comes from is actually in a passage of Scripture you’ve heard a lot lately. It has to do with the desire for our King to fully reign. In the Lord’s Prayer, the model prayer given to us by Jesus for how to pray to our adopted Heavenly Father, Jesus tells us to pray to the father for his kingdom to come:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 )
Later in Matthew, Jesus tells us what the result of all that praying will be:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
In Revelation, John’s vision affirms Jesus’ role in the kingdom-making process:
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
We can’t know the timing of when that will happen (Matthew 24:36), but we do know what the conditions will be when it does happen. People from all tribes and tongues, nations, ethne, or people groups, will be praising King Jesus. And we will be blessed servants when the master returns and finds us hard at work on his priorities (Matthew 24:46).
So how do groups of people with a different language and culture come to be worshipers of Jesus? Reached people groups send their preachers to unreached people groups. The unreached will hear that preaching, believe, and then call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Rinse and repeat.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)
Paul lays it out from the ending to the beginning. We end with salvation. Calling on the name of the Lord is what saves. But you can only call if you believe. You only believe in what you’ve heard. You can only hear if someone tells you. Someone can only tell you if they are sent to you with the message you need to hear so you can believe. So it all starts with sending.
Of those six things, what do believers have any ability to participate in?
Saving? Nope, definitely not us.
Call, believe, and hear? All the responsibility of the unbeliever.
So we can either send or preach.
Send preachers. Send preachers. Send preachers.
If we want our King to have his full kingdom, we’ll send preachers. If we truly believe that is best for him and for us, then he’s told us what to do. Pray for it to come. Then get to work following his commission for us to make disciples of all nations. How?
We can send preachers anywhere. But it seems best to me to send preachers where there’s the least preaching going on already.
These passages lead me to believe that our church needs to be the best sender of preachers to people with the least access to the gospel.
If we are Salt and Light (see Chad’s sermon from September 25), then the mission team’s role is akin to being the "Salt and Light Distribution Company." We’re here to help get the salt and light from an area of high concentration (Lafayette, Indiana) to areas of low concentration (unreached areas of the planet).
So how are we doing at our task?
How many unreached people are there? Not just unbelieving people. Unreached people groups. Unbelievers with no access to the gospel. There aren’t enough believers in churches amongst these people to evangelize themselves.
Joshua project lists the following stats as of last Saturday:
% Unreached Groups:42.5%
Population in Unreached:3.37 Billion
% Population in Unreached:42.5%
So that’s the state of the global population in "reachedness." But what is the church doing about it?
According to David Platt’s ministry, Radical, less than 1% of missions dollars goes towards the unreached.
But how are we doing here in our local church?
Better than the average. More than 20% of our mission budget goes toward the unreached. And we’re raising that percentage each year and will again in 2023 if the proposed budget passes and the new missionary candidates are all approved by our congregation.
But more than stats, there are very real people we are sending and supporting.