To insist that churches and believers must focus their missions efforts on unengaged unreached people groups (UUPGs) is not to suggest that other efforts are wrong or unimportant. All efforts to make disciples of those without Christ have merit. We just have to be careful not to neglect those who have the least access to the gospel. We must not allow good things to so occupy us that we fail to do the thing that Jesus most clearly commissioned us to do.
It is comparable to Jesus' teaching on tithing. When He rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their rigorous approach to tithing while neglecting the more important heart attitudes, He said, "These ought ye to have done and not leave the other undone" (Matthew 23:23). In other words, it's not a question of one or the other; do both. What they did was not wrong; it was what they had failed to do that brought His condemnation.
Preachers often contrast one activity with another in order to emphasize their point. I have a book in which a prominent evangelist seems to say that soul-winning is more important than discipleship. What he really means is that there are some faulty approaches to disciple-making that focus on those who are already saved and omit presenting the gospel to those who are lost. True discipleship begins with the first witnessing relationship. He would be the first to agree that those who are won to Christ must be discipled. He would also agree that discipleship must include evangelism. After all, one cannot be a disciple unless he makes disciples. We should not separate things God has put together.
The examples of false dichotomies make for an extensive list: social ministry versus evangelism; local evangelism versus global missions; mass evangelism versus personal evangelism; church planting versus soul-winning; praying versus doing; and so on. I am sure that you readers can add your own examples to this beginning of a list. However, in almost every case, it is not a question of either/or but of both/and.
In missions, we should not have to stop current efforts in order to focus on UUPGs. A church should not cut back its support of established missions through prayer and giving in order to take mission trips. Appointing career missionaries should not be curtailed in favor of extensive use of volunteers. We don't have to quit working alongside incarnational missionaries in order to embrace unengaged unreached people groups on our own. We need to do all of these things.
It is true that the good can become the enemy of the best. When good things crowd out the best thing, adjustments must be made. But where possible, it is preferable to give the best its proper emphasis without diminishing our support for and commitment to the good.
Let's pray today for wisdom as to how to do the highest that ought to be done without leaving the other undone.
The Purpose of This Blog
In response to the challenge by the Southern Baptist Convention that churches take on the task to share the gospel with unengaged unreached people groups, the missions team of Harmony Pittsburg Baptist Association felt the need for a way to focus prayer on the task. This blog is intended to facilitate prayer for those contemplating their role in fulfilling the Great Commission. This on-line prayer guide may prove useful to those exploring a call to missions involvement as well as to those who have sensed a call to pray for those who will go to the front lines.