Do We Need to Redefine Unreached?

Matt Bennett explains why our arbitrary definitions are preventing us from truly obeying our global discipleship mandate.

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? Matt 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.)

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Alex Kocman & Scott Dunford

Alex Kocman is the Director of Communications and Engagement for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. Read his blog or follow him on X/Twitter.

Scott Dunford is the pastor of Western Hills Church in San Mateo, Calif. Previously, Scott served as Vice President of Mobilization and Communications for ABWE and as a missionary in East Asia. Scott graduated from Northland International University (B.A. in Pastoral Studies), earned his M.A. in biblical studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, his M.B.A. from Cornerstone University, and is currently enrolled in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s D.Min. program with an emphasis on missions.