We’re working hard at making disciples, and many are making great strides, seeing some fruit, and growing a lot themselves. So since we’re talking about growth and fruit in disciple making, we wanted to plant one more seed for you to ruminate on. In the Great Commission, what does it mean for Jesus to have told his followers to make disciples of all nations?
This is an important component of the Commission. Jesus could have just as easily said, “Go, make disciples,” and left it there. But he didn’t. In fact, he made a point to specifically command them to go beyond their own people. This is enforced in Acts 1:8 when Jesus names specific areas to which his followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, would go. The short list was then ended with a big vision for “the ends of the earth.”
We don’t have to stop with Jesus’ words to his disciples before he ascended to heaven. From Genesis to Revelation, God has an evident heart for the nations. He starts by blessing one nation, ultimately purposing to bless all of them through Israel (Gen 12:2-3). We see glimpses of God’s international redemption in people like Rahab and Ruth, and then in prayers like Psalm 67, a plea to God to “let all the peoples praise [him].” Then, as the church is spreading, the Bible ends with a picture of heaven in which people from all the nations of the earth are worshiping their Savior and King (Rev 7:9).
So does this apply to us?
There are currently 6,600 unreached people groups (UPGs) in the world, which means that less than 2% of the people in each of those groups (designated as such by common ethnic identities and languages) are evangelical Christians. 4.1 billion of the world’s 7 billion people are unreached. Of those 6,600 UPGs, 3,500 are also unengaged, which means that there is no evangelical church-planting strategy underway among them. There are 350 million people In these unreached unengaged people groups (UUPGs).
For someone born in a UUPG, they will most likely live and die having never heard about Jesus.
So, let’s ask again, does the “all nations” portion of Jesus’ command apply to us? We’ll put it this way: the Great Commission has yet to be accomplished.
Statistics gathered from the IMB