Tuesday, March 18, 2008

missions? to whom?

As I wrote in my past post, one problem facing the issue of Christian mission is, what is it? I noted a quote by Stephen Neill that "when everything is mission, nothing is mission." The point he is making here is that often times the concepts of mission and evangelism often get conflated such that there is no difference and it all becomes the same thing when they should not be considered the same.

To whom should missions be focused? Well, in my opinion, primarily to those people in the least reached people groups or iow those who have the least access to the gospel. Least access?

Are you familiar with the missiological concept of what is called the "10/40 Window"?

The "10/40 Window" is a term coined by Christian missionary strategist Luis Bush in 1989-1990 to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that in 1990 was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources on the planet {and often most resistant to the message of the Christian gospel]. The 10/40 Window concept highlights these three elements: an area of the world, with great poverty and low quality of life, combined with lack of access to Christian resources. The Window forms a band encompassing Saharan and Northern Africa, as well as almost all of Asia (West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and much of Southeast Asia). Roughly two-thirds of the world population lives in the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is populated by people who are predominantly Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Jewish or Atheist. Many governments in the 10/40 Window are formally or informally opposed to Christian work of any kind within their borders.

I think however, that concepts of unreached people groups have expanded a bit and are not just limited to the 10/40 window. Many folks from various unreached people groups now live right here in the US and Canada and in large parts of Europe.

Here is a question to consider. How might Irem, a Turk, Ahmet, a Banjar and Tin Sau, a Bama be lost or "unreached" in way that "Lee" in Dallas, "Carlos" in Costa Rica, and "Hae Yung" in South Korea might be lost or "unreached." The first set of names are folks in a people group not a country per se. The issue is one of accessibility to the gospel message. Not all things are equal in our world. The idea of being unreached is a specific missiological concept that refers to a specific groups accessibility to the gospel message - unreached people groups not only don't have access to the gospel - they do not even have the potential to hear about the story of Jesus unless there is a near neighbor witness who can share it. While all people are equally lost theologically (eg. Rom 3:23) not all have equal access to the story of Jesus - so "Lee" in Dallas, "Carlos" in Costa Rica, and "Hae Yung" in South Korea are lost yet because there is significant Christian presence in their respective nations, they have greater accessibility to the gospel message. In case anyone wondered, South Korea has several of the largest churches in the world numbering well over 700,000 congregants. However, Irem, a Turk, Ahmet, a Banjar and Tin Sau, a Bama live among unreached people groups where there is no near neighbor witness to the gospel - even if they wanted to learn more of Jesus they most likely would not be able.

It is to these folks the priority of Christian missions should be focused - unreached people groups - people who are sociologically and culturally without Christian witness - though that is not the case presently. Presently, nearly 90% of Christian ministry/missions is targeted to the already reached and Christianized parts of the world - while those most in need of the gospel message go without.



At 6:54 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

No problems with this post. A few problems with the concept of the 10/40 Window in that several countries just as needy are omitted because they, or their capital cities lie just outside the window. Anyway, it is highly illogical that South Korea, one of the most reached countries in the world, is shown as inside the window, but North Korea, one of the least reached, is not.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Yeah, that is why I made the statement about how the concepts of unreached people groups has expanded a bit to be not just limited to the supposed 10/40 window, though I think it is a good start in the right direction. Thanks for commenting.


Post a Comment

<< Home