How to approach semantics and the Great Commission

By March 11, 2020

International (MNN) — Ask any married couple and they’d probably agree – communication matters. Outside observers can learn a lot about a relationship by watching spouses’ verbal and nonverbal interactions.

In the missions world, 2019 held a lot of debate about semantics and its role in shaping strategy. Terms like “people groups”, “unreached”, and “unengaged” were – and continue to be – debated by experts from every sphere. You can find examples on sites like Patheos, Christianity Today, and The Gospel Coalition.

Alliance for the Unreached members are part of the broader discussion, says York Aspacher with Operation Mobilization USA. “We are looking at these (approaches) as tools in our toolbox to help inform the strategy, the way that we try to go about this work,” he says of the “people group” versus “place” debate.

“We’re all open to learning and we’re in this process together as co-laborers with Christ and with one another in our mission to reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ.”

The Alliance for the Unreached

Aspacher serves as the Marketing Director for Operation Mobilization USA. OM is a multifaceted outreach ministry active in Bible studies, teaching, building businesses, relief and development work, the creative arts, and more. Their ministries, with more than 6,800 volunteers and staff, are spreading the word of the Lord across all occupied continents.

unreached stat

(Photo courtesy of Alliance for the Unreached via Facebook)

Along with its fellow founding members, OM rallies around a common goal: reaching people who have no access or opportunity to know Christ. Their efforts don’t stop there, Aspacher says.

“The biblical mandate is not simply to divide people into groups and check them off on a list. The biblical mandate is to disciple the peoples of the world and to see that they’re taught what Christ taught.”

Individually, each Alliance member has its own “realm” or ministry focus: community outreach, radio, Bible translation, etc. Collectively, the Alliance for the Unreached mobilizes churches, organizations, media and individual believers to advocate for communities with no access to Christ.

Its chief focus isn’t missional strategy. Instead, “we’re primarily looking to create a movement among the broader American church,” Aspacher says.

“We’re talking with people on the broad cultural level of understanding of what ‘unreached’ is.”

Next steps

You can learn more about this movement on May 31st, the International Day for the Unreached. Follow us on Facebook for updates or join the IDU email list. Most importantly, seek the Lord’s direction.

(Graphic courtesy of Alliance for the Unreached via Twitter)

“How is God asking you to be involved in the work of the Great Commission? Because this is something that, scripturally, is issued to all of us as believers,” Aspacher observes.

“This is not a professional mandate for people who are paid to work within the church structure. This is something that is incumbent upon all of us as believers.”



Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels.

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