Frontier vs. Regular Missions Part I

Today begins a three part series of defining missions, and showing the priority for frontier missions over regular missions.

Missions is a term that can be thrown around easily. Missions is now exchanged for the term “evangelism,” and “outreach”. Missions is a budget line item in the church that goes far too wide and far too shallow. Missions is not to be just a sector of ministry in the church. Missions IS the purpose of the church. As the church universal, the body of Christ, we are commanded to take the gospel to where it is currently not. The purpose of the church and the very reason it exists is to worship Christ with everything and bring more worshipers to Him. It is out of God’s passion for His glory that missions exists (read John Piper’s“Let the Nations Be Glad.” )

A few years back I had thought the only division was between lost and saved people. This included here and around the world, and the church just gets people to come to Him wherever they are. The first time I heard about Christ was when I was 15. I knew where churches were, I just wasn’t interested to find out what they were all about. I thought that is how it is all over, churches out there but individuals decide to go or not.

I never realized that there were whole groups of people separated from God, who have no access to His gospel. I found out that there were places where there were no churches. That there were places that people didn’t have the bible translated in their language; places where people are actively searching for someone to tell them the greatest story told, but no one around knows it. This changed everything.

Missiologists have termed this concept “reached” and “unreached.” Come to find out, there are whole sectors of culture termed people groups that are characterized by this reached and unreached zones.

Based on this, here are some definitions:
“missions” that is within our country is called evangelism
“missions” outside our country that is among reached peoples is called regular missions
“missions” outside our country that is among unreached peoples is called frontier missions

Here are some statistics to make things more real:

  • There are an estimated 24,000 people groups
  • 8,000 of these are considered unreached (most located in 10/40 window).
  • This 1/3 amount of people groups makes up 60% of the world population.
  • India alone contains 2,082 unreached people groups.
  • Of our mission personnel, 90% serve in regular missions while only 10% serve in frontier areas
  • Of our finances, 95% of our church dollars goes straight back to us, sending 5% out to missions outside of our country
    • Of that 5% missions budget, 90% goes to regular missions with only 10% going to frontier missions.
    • Totaled: 99.5% of our money goes to reached areas where people have access to the gospel while 0.5% goes to places that otherwise have no opportunity to hear.

I think the church needs to put a little more thought as to what missions is, and what our focus should be. Of course all of these areas are good targets for ministry, but if we are going to focus on missions lets truly and strategically put our efforts into completing the Great Commission. [Hint to part II].

I leave you with the words of the greatest missionary:

“thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
-Romans 15:20-21

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