Vocabulary Test

Not Biblical, no longer helpful:

-”the 10/40 window,” “last frontier,””edge of lostness.” When the world was two-dimensional (and to most Christians, that was until very recently…), it made sense to think of people as places on a map and to put them into categories (population, religion, demographics, reached-ness, number of churches, accessibility, etc.). Today, people defy taxonomy; the world is dynamic. Tribes used to be discovered in uncharted corners of the world, now we’re discovering them hiding in globalized urban centers and on the internet.

-”Nations.” Yes, the Bible uses the word “nations.” But missiologists (actually anthropologists) have defined the therm to mean, “ethnolinguistic people groups.” But were there really people from every ethnolinguistic people group present on the day of Pentecost? What about third-generation Muslim immigrants in Paris?

-”Reached/Unreached.” As the church rediscovers her role as incarnatioal (rather than attractional) image-bearers, people are realizing that it’s better to go where God leads (through relationships, gifting, opportunity, interest, connects, etc.) than to engage a people simply because they are “unreached.” God orchestrates the church’s strategic missional engagement, so we need to forget what we think we know about who is “reached” and who is “unreached.”

And then there’s the ambiguity of the concept of “reaching” people….

It’s time to replace the old missions vocabulary with a new one.

About E. Goodman

Ernest Goodman is a missiologist, writer, teacher, and communications strategist.