Since the Day of Pentecost, devoted followers of Christ have been avidly taking the message of the gospel across continents, countries and cultures. Yet after 2000 years, the quest to fulfill Christ's commission has gone uncompleted. This is so even though there has been no greater effort in the history of mankind that compares in scope and expenditure to this undertaking. Literally hundreds of thousands of messengers have gone forth, billions of dollars expended, and innumerable prayers offered on its behalf. Over the centuries hundreds of vibrant regional sending centers emerged and then disappeared as zeal for mission waxed and waned. Through it all, the propagation of the gospel has continued unbroken and unabated. Sadly however, the task remains uncompleted.
The Tokyo Declaration fixes our eyes on finishing the task. Rather than being ambivalent as to our desired outcome, the document makes clear what our final goal is. It states the following...
Although none dare predict when the task of making disciples will be brought to completion, we leave Tokyo cognizant of two realities:
1) We are closer now to finishing the task than in any time in history.
2) God has entrusted this generation with more opportunities and resources to complete the task than any previous one. We have more mission-minded churches, more sending structures and bases, more missionaries, more material resources, more funding, more and better technology, more information and data, a deeper understanding of the task, and a clearer focus of our responsibility than previous generations. God will require much of our generation.
Yet, at this moment, 3.1 billion people, or 40% of the world's population remain unreached. By unreached we use a recently
refined definition by David Platt
Unreached peoples and places are those among whom Christ is largely unknown and the church is relatively insufficient to make Christ known in its broader population without outside help."
Also, recently there has been proposed that those who are the least touched by the gospel be nuanced as
The following are interesting newer statistics about unreached people groups (UPGs) from
Of the 17,072 people groups in the world by country:
- 7,101 are considered least-reached / unreached
- 1,200 are considered minimally reached
- 1,796 are considered superficially reached
- 3,740 are considered partially reached
In light of these statistics, the Declaration calls on all believers, everywhere, to boldly join together in concerted efforts to make disciples of peoples in every unreached/minimally reached/superficially reached/partially reached people groups and areas of the world. It recognizes "that finishing the task will demand effective cooperative efforts of the entire global body of believers." How that will be done is made clear in the up-coming final visit of the Declaration.