On Monday I wrote a post about why I’m a missions snob. I think that the post is fairly informative and points to a real problem when it comes to world missions. Our efforts are grossly unbalanced. Since I’m continuing my “Missions Week” series, I thought that I’d explore the focus of my snobbery a little more.
In my post, I talked a lot about the unreached peoples. I wanted to bring some clarity to this term. Very often I will hear someone interchange unreached with unchurched in reference to missions. These words are not interchangeable and do not refer to the same people. Let me clarify.
The word unchurch is basically defined as “those not belonging or participating with a church.” This has become a pervasive term in the modern day church. Where I live in Austin, it is estimated that more than 80% of the population does not attend church. These people are unchurched. Although there are many unchurched who have never once attended a church, many stats reveal that most of the unchurched have attended church at one time in their life… many even more often than that.
The word unreached is quite a bit different. According to the website “Joshua Project” the term Unreached “is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.” The criteria is usually when less than 2% of the population are evangelicalÂ Christians and less than 5% are ChristianÂ adherents, the people group are considered unreached.
Although less than 10% of AustinÂ regularlyÂ attends church, Austin is far from unreached. Well over 2% of the population are evangelical Christians and I’d imagine that the majority of this city would classify themselves as Christian adherents (it doesn’t mean they’re following strong convictions). It is totallyÂ feasibleÂ to live in an “evangelized” location like Austin and still not Christ. It’s even possible to not have ever attended a church… but it doesn’t make an area unreached. A Christian witness is close by and theÂ opportunitiesÂ to come to faith are available. Unreached is a totally different animal though. Access to the gospel message is grossly inadequate and most people in an unreached people group will live their entire lives without a clear presentation of the gospel.
So, where are the unreached? More on that in my next post, but here’s a listing of theÂ countriesÂ where the 100 most unreached people live (click here for a site that illustrates this):
- Saudi Arabia
- North Korea