This week I have spent a great deal of time processing through the church’s role in reaching unreached peoples. My thoughts on the church’s role in reaching unreached peoples will come from three resources. I will begin by unpacking the theological reasons based on a John Piper sermon. From there I will transition my focus to practically what this looks like for the Western church by engaging with a David Platt sermon (unable to link due to password restriction) and my time with Andy Kampman Director of Mobilization for the 100 People Network.
Let the People’s Praise You, Let All the People’s Praise You!
In Dr. Piper’s sermon he unpacked Psalm 67 and painted a clear and compelling picture answering the question “Why God cares about the nations?” Psalm 67 says,
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!”
There are four points in this passage that show us why God cares about unreached peoples.
1. God aims to be known as the one and only true God. This first point is based on verse 2, “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” Dr. Piper articulates extremely well how this is a very arrogant claim unless it’s true. If true than going to the unreached people of the world is a humble, obedient, daring response by those people who love those that are perishing.
2. He wants the nations to know that he is a God of justice. Verse 4 says, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity…” This is a profound point because it is saying God will judge based on no partiality. Regardless of nationality, skin color, family tree, socioeconomic status, level of sophistication, etc.
There are only two people in God’s eyes; those in Adam and those in Christ. Romans chapter 5 contrasts these two men in depth. By way of summary Gods justice requires perfection. Those who are in Adam (People whose hope is not in Christ) are not perfect but still in their sin, yet those in Christ are deemed perfect. This is NOT because of their works but Christ’s perfect work on the cross in their place for their sin.
3. God aims to be known for his sovereign power. At the end of verse 4 the Psalmist says, “and guide the nations upon the earth.” This is not the only place God speaks of being the ultimate sovereign over all worldly governments. Other passages that talk about God’s sovereign power are Proverbs 21:1, Daniel 2:21, and Daniel 4:35, among others.
4. God aims to be known as a gracious God. Verses 1-2 say,”May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” That phrase “your saving power” is literally your salvation. While verse 4 starts with, “Let the nations be glad…”
How God demonstrates his grace makes the nations glad is through his salvation found only in Jesus Christ! John Piper summarizes this message well,
“The heart of the missionary message to the nations is: God will save you from your sin and guilt and condemnation by grace through faith in his Son Jesus Christ. We go with a message of grace, not a message of condemnation.”
To conclude this section John Piper does well in his unpacking of Psalm 67. He shows us that God cares about unreached peoples. He cares for people to worship Him as the one true God, the God of justice, God who is the only sovereign, and God who is gracious. I recently received great wisdom from a friend who said, “Anywhere in Scripture that it is clear that God cares about an issue you should care. Regardless of where your heart lands on the issue if God explicitly says He cares, you should care.”
God’s Glory Among the Nations in Practice
What does the chruch’s role in reaching these unreached people God cares about look like? David Platt discussed 8 non-negotiables for the local church that I won’t go into detail about here, but will list and add a few quotes I thought helpful.
- A God centered God
- Pastors and church leaders are mobilizers and equippers in the local church. The only thing that will drive people to mission and sustain them is God’s Word. True biblical theology drives urgent missiology.
- A life changing gospel. Making disciples is the supernatural overflow of being a disciple.
- Spirit empowered church
- A Christ driven strategy. Go and make disciples of all nations
- A people’s (ethne) goal.“The great commission is not a general command to make disciples of as many people as possible. It is a specific command to make disciples among every people group.”Unreached = No access to the gospel.Lost = have access to people and churches who can share the gospel.
- A multi-faceted approach. We need both/and local and international missions. We also need both/and in meeting physical and spiritual needs.
- Death defying commitment. When we engage in reaching unreached people groups we can be certain all the weight of hell will be warring against us.
In my time with Andy Kampman I saw him agreeing tremendously with Platts 8 non-negotiables while describing how he puts them to practice in weekly rhythms. Andy can spit stat after stat showing why unreached peoples need to be engaged. For example there are approximately 11,500 people groups in the world today. Of that number 6,000 people groups have never even heard the name of Jesus be spoken. Andy shared how there is a city in Eastern Turkey that is a college town where people fluently speak English. It has a population of 40,000 college students and none of them are Christian. Andy’s calling from God is to be a mobilizer, which is someone who trains, equips, and sends Christians from the local church to the unreached peoples of the world.
Andy’s model for mobilizing the church is called Goer Missional Communities. Andy is highly incarnational with his people and he bases his being so on Mark 3:14 where Jesus, “appointed twelve(whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.” Andy doesn’t merely teach a class, lay out five steps to reach the nations, and call it a day. He is on a daily basis on his knees, pounding the pavement, and spending time with Jesus right alongside of his people.
Within this GMC model you see four primary rhythms revolving around Word, Demonstrate, Declare, and Prayer. They also utilize a method to be lived out weekly called 3,2,1. I know very creative.
- Word: 3 hours with Jesus
- Demonstrate/Declare: 2 hours with the lost (building relationships/intentional evangelism)
- Prayer: 1 hour corporate prayer
What Andy has seen through this model is now over 100 people from The Austin Stone sent to the unreached peoples of the world. In Andy’s mind seeing someone come to faith is great, but not the end goal. He focuses heavily on “rapid movement” or making disciples that multiply. The bar is high, but the results speak for themselves. Most new believers that Andy and his “Goers” lead to faith are sharing the gospel and reading the Bible with 5 non-believers in their spheres of influence within 48 hours of coming to faith.
In conclusion, the role the church should play in reaching unreached peoples is through intentionally making disciples of all people groups. We can accomplish this task through mobilizing, equipping, and training Christians in the local church through modeling what the life of the Christian looks like. We can equip our people through sound teaching of the Bible, giving them tools that lead to intentional gospel conversations, and we must demonstrate as leaders in God’s church what life on mission looks like. As I close, my hope is that this quote from Andy would leave you both convicted and emboldened. My hope is that you would begin to put into practice rhythms that will lead to disciples being to the extent that transformation takes place in neighborhoods, cities, and the unreached peoples across the globe. I know this word was convicting for me.
“Investing in someone is doing life together with little or no scheduled time together. You can’t tell someone what to do and expect them to obey. You have to show them what to do, that’s the whole point of Mark 3:14.”