A megachurch leader is highlighting the importance of mission work in areas where people have never heard the Gospel, estimating that more than 3 billion people are currently "unreached" by missionaries.
During last week's Together for the Gospel Conference at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, megachurch Pastor David Platt stressed the importance of mission work in regions where billions remain "unreached' by the Word of God. He began his remarks by citing Scripture, specifically Matthew 28:18-20.
This passage is commonly known as the Great Commission, in which Jesus commands His disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Platt also referred to Romans 15:18-25, in which Paul of Tarsus wrote about his goal of preaching the gospel "where Christ was not known." The Christian Post reported that following the reading of the passages and a prayer, Platt discussed the major problem that "over 3 billion people are currently unreached by the Gospel." He described it as a "Romans 15 Spain-like ignorance of the Name and Gospel of Jesus."
Platt explained that the term "unreached" does not simply mean an unbeliever of Jesus Christ, but rather a community where people did not have access to the Gospel. The New York Times best selling author remarked, "People are just as lost in Kentucky and the places where most all of us live as they are in Yemen. The difference is there are churches in Kentucky and all the places where most of us live. Gospel-preaching churches."
Platt referred to statistics from the evangelical research group known as the Joshua Project and reported that there are 30 million people in Yemen, where a civil war is causing "suffering and [starvation]." He added that Yemenis are likely to "born...live, and...die without ever even meeting a Christian or hearing the Gospel."
Joshua Project is an organization that spreads awareness of the ethnic groups all over the world with the smallest number of Christians. Platt lamented that today, many churches are "practically ignoring the three billion people who need the Gospel most." He added that American Christians are donating billions of dollars to missions, but that "approximately 99% of missions giving goes to people and places in the world that already have access to the Gospel."
Platt urged churches to commit more resources to missions that target unreached populations, the reason being that "the number of unreached people is higher today than ever before and will continue to increase until the church decides to change."
Another factor to this problem is that only 46% of Christians today see missions as a "mandate" from Jesus Christ, a recent Barna Group survey found. According to the Christian Headlines, while a majority of pastors or 85% of them believe "missions is a mandate for all Christians," only less than half of Christians actually believe the same.
The Barna poll showed that 77% of pastors and 43% of Christians said that it is more important for missions to spread the Gospel than to promote justice. In addition, 88% of pastors and 46% of Christians said it was more important for missions to equip indigenous tribes than be "short-termed."