Is Reaching the Unreached a Strategy
You plan and promote two events at your church. The first is a strategic planning session on how to reach Somali refugees in your community. The second meeting is a session on how to infuse a lifestyle of evangelism into your everyday life. I can guarantee you that the first meeting will receive a better turnout. People like strategies, but lifestyles and habits are another story altogether. Why is it easier to buy into a strategic plan than it is to change our daily rhythms and priorities?
Strategies are human plans developed to accomplish larger objectives; many of which are planned with a heart to serve God. We are doing something “to someone else.” Lifestyle changes involve human transformation. We are seeking change in ourselves in order to then see change in others.
Strategies tend to turn people into objects of the plan. Life transformation makes people more human as they are changed into who God designed them to be. When we pick a strategy without seeking the change God wants to bring about in the process, we reduce our effort to what we can do in our own power.
This has happened with many of our efforts to reach the unreached people of the world. If you haven’t heard this term, the unreached are those that have no sustainable Christian witness in their midst. The fact that anyone has not had the chance to hear the Gospel is a tragedy and something that we as believers should be actively committed to addressing.
But the question is how we address it. Most commonly, the Church has responded to Jesus’ Great Commission with strategies that take this high and worthy mandate and turn it into human-sized objectives and projects that we believe will help us respond to God’s calling. These are well intentioned but they tend to become pragmatic plans that we can accomplish whether or not the Spirit shows up.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks less of strategies and more of a changed life. He makes an amazing claim, “You are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:15, NLT) Then He calls us to “…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16, NLT) Jesus modeled an approach to His later commandment here. Our very lives should emanate with God’s glory and when they do God’s wishes will be fulfilled.
Now let’s be clear . . . a person being transformed by the mandate to reach the unreached may use strategies. However, the strategies come out of a changed life rather than the other way around! Reaching the unreached is not a strategy to be planned but a cause to be lived. A life committed to seeing people reached will see its thinking, priorities, investments, and ambitions changed.
The world will be reached when our hearts are shaped by a vision to engage those who have not heard. Then we will be transformed into sons and daughters of the King who eagerly work to see every person’s life changed as ours has been!
By Jon Hirst,
President/CEO – GMI