“Go and make disciples of all nations.” The Great Commission is a call handed to every follower of Jesus, not just for a chosen few. It’s a call for all believers, in every church and every country, for all generations.
Jesus’ command to reach the lost is as urgent today as it was for the first century Christians. Today, we’re living in exciting times, because, for the first time in history, we have the access and opportunity to see every nation, tribe, people, and language reached with the good news of Jesus in our lifetime. However, there are challenges and barriers we can only break by working together.
Even today, 2000 years after the resurrection, there are still hundreds of people groups with no believers, thousands of languages with no Bible, and millions of places with no body of Christ. This means there are billions of people who will go into eternity separated from Jesus forever, unless the global church rises up and accepts the mandate we were given 2000 years ago. We’re living in a time in which communication, translation, and transportation can reach into the most isolated and ignored people on the earth.
A NEW ERA BROADER VISION, GREATER PARTNERSHIP
Historically, Finishing the Task has been a rallying point and a synthesizer of vital data for the work of initiating engagement of every people group on the planet. Finishing the Task has done incredible work todate, advancing closer and closer toward our target of adopting and engaging every people group. The list of people groups of over 500 people with No Bible, No Believers and No Bodies of Christ (known as unreached, unengaged people groups or UUPGs) is 233 – 91 of which were adopted at the 2019 FTT Conference! That same bold faith that founded Finishing the Task carries us into a new era of the movement, one where we move toward the broader goal of a Bible, Believers and Bodies of Christ within access of every person on the globe. You haven’t really believed God until you’ve attempted something that can’t be done in the power of the flesh. This is a God-sized goal, and across our movement we’re seeing encouraging examples of how enlarging our movement, partnering together, and accelerating innovation paves the way for ushering in Kingdom growth in an unprecedented way:
- Believers in every people group
There are approximately 12,000 ethnolinguistic people groups in the world. Of those groups, 7,067 are “Unreached People Groups” (UPGs)—that is, they have a population that is less than two percent Christian. They may have a witness, a church, and minimal Scripture in their language. We consider them an unreached people group because most of them still have not heard the gospel. One of the significant achievements of the 2019 FTT Conference was a collaboration around one key UUPG—the Deaf. Worldwide, less than 2% of all Deaf know Jesus, making them the largest unreached people group in the world. For the first time, this year’s conference featured a track for the Deaf, composed of 50 Deaf and 50 hearing leaders, that coalesced a common vision to see gospel movements among the Deaf people groups. Birthed out of this track was a Deaf ministry coalition—the first of its kind!
“It was really a historic moment for the Deaf. The stage has been set to work together in unprecedented ways.” Kevin McGhee of Converge
2. Bodies of Christ in every people group
There are millions of villages, neighborhoods, and suburbs around the world where there is no Body of Christ—no church. Because the local church is vital to the formation of disciples, we want to ensure there is a church within walking distance of every person on earth. Achieving that will require the planting of millions more churches around the world. Accelerating the pace of these goals will require we partner with all kinds of people to plant all kinds of churches. For the first time, we are seeing major denominational leaders join the movement with unprecedented passion for the unreached. At FTT 2019, we also heard from major church planting movements: Global Alliance for Church Multiplication (GACX), Global Church Planting Network (GCPN), 24:14, and Vision 5:9 that they aim to form a coalition to greatly accelerate the work toward this goal.
“The future is bright as we all have the opportunity to labor together toward these next finish lines.” Curtis Sergeant of 24:14
3. A Bible in every language
There are thousands of languages around the world with little or no access to the Bible in their heart languages. While every major language in the world has the Bible, the remaining languages of 100,000 or less people still do not have access to the Gospel. Finishing the Great Commission will require that we make the Word of God available in all of these languages, no matter how small the linguistic group. Bible translation agencies at the 2019 FTT Conference brought to the table exciting innovations that will enhance our progress for the over 2,000 languages that don’t have a single verse of Scripture in their language. The first is emerging oral bible translation methodologies. These approaches take Scripture and put it into a natural storytelling form that brings the text to life for oral learners. A second innovation is church-centric Bible translation, which makes translation possible for languages that would otherwise not have Scripture for decades. Finally, the incorporation of artificial intelligence in Scripture translation is being tested in Deaf sign language translation—an important tool for reaching the 68 million Deaf people who don’t know Jesus.
The aim of Finishing the Task is to raise up the global Church to adopt the mantel of reaching the unreached as we foster learning and partnership across geographic and denominational boundaries. We’ve developed and identified new strategic people lists to focus church planting efforts on both the under-engaged and engaged people groups currently without a church body. In 2020, we’ll be hosting regional one day Finishing the Task Gatherings across the United States and in South Korea to convene and mobilize the Church in new areas. The work we do together at Finishing the Task is so important—reaching the lost is what Jesus died for! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—God wants his lost children found, nothing matters more than that. My prayer is that God would use us to advance the spread of the Gospel, and that we would have the privilege of seeing in our lifetime a Bible in every language, a believer in the life of every person, and a body of Christ within walking distance of everyone. As we work together, in unity, I know God will do what only he can do as we run after the call to see the whole world reached for His name. It is my privilege to partner with you as we grow the Kingdom together.