Unreached vs. Nominal

26 Apr 2024

There are several different ways of measuring what are effectively the “extremes” of a % Christian bell-curve.

I use a six level “Stage of Christianity” measure for countries, provinces, districts, and languages. The stages are:

  • 0: <0.1% Christian - the very frontiers of no access.
  • 1: 0.1% to 2% Christian - some believers, but significantly “unreached”
  • 2: 2% to 8% - has crossed or is crossing the “unreached” line but still very little
  • 3: 8% to 32% - significant Christian presence though still in the minority, often evangelistic
  • 4: 32% to 90% - most “Christian” countries or districts would fall into this area
  • 5: over 90% - highly Christianized regions.

The measures of “unreached” and “nominal” tend to represent situations found at either extremes of this “bell curve.” People with little access to the Gospel are found largely clustered in stages 0 to 2, with some in the lower end of stage 3. People who are “nominal” are found within “culturally Christian” regions, which are found at the upper bounds of stage 4 and throughout stage 5.

These represent two different sets of problems that people can become very passionate about. “Why are we going to the unreached when there are so many bad disciples at home” is the cry of a person who is being drawn up the scale, not down it. “Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice when there are so many who haven’t heard it once” is the cry of a person who is being drawn down the scale, not up it.

What we should not do is equate the two problems. Every individual is equally on the heart of God, but the problem of unevangelized/unreached is not the same as the problem of nominalism. They require two different approaches, and two different callings. (I think this is why God calls apostles, as well as prophets and pastors).

At the risk of being misunderstood, I also do not think we should prioritize one over the other. People who are called to disciple nominals are not being called to the unreached, nor vice-versa. Instead, I think we need to challenge the church to go to all three - “Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth.” I don’t believe we have to pick one - we just need to build one another up and release one another into the callings God has for us. He has more than enough resources and people for both the unreached and the nominals - and everyone in between.

All Posts <>/div>