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Missions 101

Defining Unengaged

Mar. 29, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Ever wonder why different organizations list a different number of unreached people groups?

Justin Long, in his helpful article, "The devil is in the definitions: controveries around "unengaged" at Cape Town 2010," raises a number of issues worth thinking about.  It is easier to make impassioned plea for the unreached then it is to actually decide who they are.  Definitions are difficult - try to get people to agree how to define the answer to "Who is a Christian," and you will see the problem.  

So the next time you hear someone making a plea to reach the unreached (a good plea no doubt!), try to see if that person actually defines it.  Just to help you start thinking about this, here are some questions to process:

  • If we send short-term missionaries to areas where there is no gospel witness, is the people group now reached?
  • In groups who are determined to have no access to the gospel, but have access to the internet, do they become reached once they click on a gospel presentation in a language they understand?
  • How many long-term missionaries need to go to a group where there is no gospel witness before we check them off (so to speak) as reached?
  • Do believers need to be present in a people group to be considered reached?

This is just meant to start you out, but I hope it will help round out your view of the "unreached."

Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International.  As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter

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