Missing the Mission Part 1: Discipling All Nations?

After the resurrection, Jesus gave the church one clear mission: “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). Today, the church seems to disciple nations more than ever before. Christians give $45 billion of their income to the Great Commission every year. Approximately 400,000 foreign missionaries have filled the globe, carrying good news to the ‘whosoevers’ that God so loves. Modern evangelicals have more events, gospel tracts, gospel crusades, and discipleship programs than at any time in history. But has the church’s mission program missed something — better yet, someone? The tragic answer is yes. We have missed the 10/40 Window.

The 10/40 Window: A Gospel Wasteland

What is the 10/40 Window? In three words: A gospel wasteland. A region with so little gospel light that few can “grope for [God] and find Him” (Acts 17:27 NASB). The 10/40 Window rests between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees North Latitude, including parts of India, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. And it desperately needs the gospel of Jesus.

How desperately? More than any other region on the globe. To put it in numbers, 3.14 billion people alive today (42.2%) have minimal exposure to the gospel, and 3.05 billion of these live in the 10/40 Window. That’s 97% of all unreached people groups and 40% of the world’s population. I think these statistics should send the church a blaring message: the 10/40 Window must become 100% of our concern.

The people of the 10/40 Window have suffered many griefs alongside their spiritual barrenness: radical poverty, historic genocides, controlling communism, murderous terrorism, rampant child-sex slavery and generational drug addictions. Both their history and current events drip with darkness.

That darkness has steeped deep into the heart of its’ people. Millions live enslaved to opium in the Golden Triangle — the drug capital of the world made up of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Millions of Cambodians remain steeped in fear decades after the Khmer Rouge Holocaust, which claimed 2 million Cambodian lives from 1976-1979. And every year, Southeast Asia’s poor sell their children into sex slavery in a desperate search for financial relief.

Devoid of hope, devoid of absolute standards, devoid of God, these cultures have grown weak, sickly and oftentimes frighteningly immoral. But Jesus Christ died and rose to set them free from sin’s penalty and power. The people of the 10/40 Window need the hope and truth found in Jesus Christ. But have we reached them?

The answer is shocking.

The Body of Christ: Not Going and Not Paying

With such an epidemic on our hands, you would hope that Christians would deny themselves and rally together to reach these never-dying souls. And I wish I could tell you that we were. But, we’re not.

The truth is that the global church puts fewer efforts towards the 10/40 Window than any other region of the world. The church has sent out 400,000 missionaries into the world, but only 13,315 of these work among the unreached. In most reached nations, natives can scarcely walk down the street without encountering a church hall or a Christian worker. But the unreached world has only 1 Christian missionary for every 216,300 unreached souls. 1 for every 216,300! Does that ratio burn in your heart like a flame of holy grief? My heart stings like a knife wound as I write. How will they ever hear?

We’re not doing any better with financial support either. Only 1% of church mission donations go towards the unreached — a mere .001% of the church’s yearly income. Meanwhile, we spend 96.8% of donations on staff pay, A/C, sound equipment, rent, and other practical costs. We pay pastors, perfect our presentations and pamper pew-sitters at the expense of reaching the unreached.

The truth is shameful — with a gracious tone, I say, deplorable. But what happened to my glowing figure from earlier? $45 billion to missions every year? Well, almost half of that ($20.3 billion) goes to “home missions” in heavily evangelized nations; and only 1% of that (less than $1 billion) goes to the unreached. Not to mention — $45 billion is only 6.4% of the money given to all Christian causes. In essence, we don’t even give a tithe of our tithe to missions. As a global church, we simply spend most of our money on ourselves.


You and I: Have a Choice

We love the church — and that’s why we call it to repent. We call it to repent of pampering itself at the expense of the unreached. We call it to repent of re-evangelizing the evangelized when 3.14 billion souls have never even heard the name of Jesus. We call it to repent of forgetting Paul’s great ambition: “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (Romans 15:20).We call it to repent here, and we call it to repent now.

But the church is not made of buildings and branding; it is made up of every day Christians like you and me. And that is where this becomes personal. It is not “the church’s” job to repent; it is yours.How much of your monthly offerings go to the unreached? How often have you prayed for God to send out laborers into that white harvest? Have you ever considered going to them as a missionary?

God may never call you to go in person — but You can make a radical impact on the 10/40 Window right where you are. Its’ unreached billions cry out for you to plead their cause, intercede for their salvation and finance the missionaries who will tell them the good news. At the days’ end, it is your choice. Will you be their advocate, or will you miss the mission?

(Missing the mission is a blog series responding to the state of modern Christian missions. Check back next week for Missing the Mission Part 2.)

All missions statistics from The Traveling Team.

A practical note: If you want to take a first step, we suggest you begin to pray and financially support organizations that work in the 10/40 Window. You may not feel led to join our 10/40 rescue mission; that’s fine. But please join someones. If you’re interested in adopting a pastor in the 10/40 Window for $100 a month, click here.

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