And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
– Matt 28.18-20
Few people would argue with the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, calling us to go make disciples of all the nations. But in response to the call, how often have you heard [or said] the sentiment, “There is so much work to be done here in the United States”. I live in a city – Denver, CO – that many would call a mission city, a largely unchurched city. I drive through an urban section of town to get to work, and on my four mile commute I pass no less than six churches. I know of quite a few mega churches in the city, running multiple thousands of people every weekend, as well as a dynamic Acts 29 planting network in the city, as well as many, many long-time established churches. My husband and I bought a house and had to furnish it, and we bought almost everything off Craig’s List. Of the countless home visits we made to check out and buy furniture, lamps and everything we needed, we met only one non-Christian. I guess it is possible that only Christians use Craig’s List…
Statistics and numbers are lost on us. We hear them all the time, and it is nearly impossible to grasp the magnitude of a million people verses three hundred thousand. Our views are limited, our perspectives skewed, and we tend to care about those things that are in front of us and which we have experienced. Just for the sake of reciting the numbers again, however, here they are.
It is estimated that there are 7.4 billion people in the world. There are slightly more than 321 million people in the United States. Within the United, we are 77.3% professing Christian. That means that three out of every four people is at least professing Christ. And we make up roughly 4.3% of the world’s population.
There are 16,324 distinct people groups – marked by a unique language and culture by country. Of those people groups, 6,573 are considered unreached. This means that less than 2% of their populations are Christian. Those peoples make up 3.067 billion people. Almost half of the world’s population lives amongst a people and nation where they will not rub shoulders with Christians, or ever hear the Gospel and hope of Jesus Christ. Of those unreached people groups, there are 3,136 that are completely unengaged, with a population of 201 million. This means that there is no Christian presence among the people – no Church, no missionary, no radio broadcast, no way that these people will ever stumble upon or be able to seek out the Gospel.
To give a little perspective, that means that the equivalence of nearly 2/3 of the population of the United States has absolutely no access to the Gospel. 9.6 times the population of the United States lives in a nation that has less than 2% Christian presence and will likely never run into a Christian.
And yet, three out of every four people in the United States is professing faith in Jesus.
It is true that we are only ever one generation away from being a lost people ourselves, but for lack of a better term, we are hoarding Christians here.
Jesus said go. If we follow Jesus, if we obey Him, it should be the norm to go, not the norm to stay. If you choose to not heed the calling, you better be extremely sure of God’s leading you to stay. Many of us will be very sad when we meet Jesus and He asks us why we chose not to obey.
While Jesus was walking on the Earth and preforming His ministry, He was broken for the lostness of the people. In His sorrow, He told the disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
– Matt 9.37
But do you know how He instructed them to pray in response?
“Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
– Matt 9.38
It is the Holy Spirit’s work to draw and change people. It is our job to preach the Gospel. Jesus looked out over the lost people and stated that there are many in whom the Spirit is working and who are ready to believe. Therefore, it is not our responsibility to pray to God for the lost people, but to pray to God and petition Him to send more workers into the field! The harvest is ripe, the need is farmers who will start reaping!
Almost in the same breath, Jesus then turns around and sends the disciples out:
“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness…These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them…”
– Matt 10.1, 5
Jesus saw the reality. He was broken over it. He taught the disciples to turn to God to pray for the workers, and then He sent them out. It will happen that as we pray for the world and develop both an eternal and broader worldview that we will no longer be satisfied with the status quo. We will go. And we will not go, just to go. We will go and be obedient to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all the nations.
Let’s stop hoarding Christians. Let’s stop making ourselves comfortable. Let’s get busy about obedience. Let’s get busy about reaping the harvest that Jesus says is ready!
7,400,000,000 people in the world
3,067,000,000 people have little/no access to the Gospel (41.4% of the world)
201,000,000 people have absolutely no chance of hearing the Gospel (2.7% of the world)
248,133,000 number of professing Christians in the United States