Do We Need to Redefine Unreached? Matthew Bennett Answers

For decades, missiologists have assumed the priority of the “unreached”—and for good reason—building entire organizational strategies around it. But do we need to redefine this term? Matthew Bennett, Ph.D., former IMB missionary and current Assistant Professor of Missions and Theology at Cedarville University, weighs in.

In a recent article, Matthew argues that we’ve taken the arbitrary 2-percent definition of “unreached” too far, countering that we need to consider both unreached people groups and unreached places. He also argues in another piece that we must shift our focus from “finishing the task” to being faithful in the constant disciple-making mandate. In this interview, we ask Matthew about the history of UPG emphasis and talk about Ralph Winter, Donald McGavran, and how the homogeneous unit principle morphed from description into prescription. Finally, we discuss the importance of unhitching our missiology from a narrow conception of eschatology so that we can focus on our present callings. Nerds, this episode is for you. (And everyone else too, of course. We promise.)

Dr. Matthew Bennett joined the faculty at Cedarville University in fall 2017 after serving and living in North Africa and the Middle East since 2011. He currently teaches The Bible and the Gospel, Theology I, Urban Missiology, Contemporary World Missions, Global Theology, and World Religions. You can listen to our preview interview with Matthew here.

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One comment

  • No, I don’t think we need to redefine unreached. We do need to redefine the priorities involved in getting there. Example: Every local church in America will consume 84% of the “giving” to make sure believers get a weekly professional Bible lecture in a pulpit and pew building EVERY week of their life. ONLY 16% is left to do anything gospel outside the church walls. This is raw COSUMING of the “giving”.

    Is it really 5 times more important for Americans to get this than for the gospel to be sent to those who have never heard it once AND have no one to tell them?

    Can believers be raised up in this kind of “local church” be sent to bring a spoken and lived out gospel to those around the world who have no interest in facing a pulpit in a steepled building?

    These issues need redefining to reach the unreached. There is a lot of talk but little action on the unreached.

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