Dear Lord, your heart longs that all people should have access to the knowledge of your love and of your saving work and we recognize with grief and shame that there are thousands of people groups around the world for whom such access has not yet been made available to our Christian witness. These are peoples who are unreached, in the sense that there are no known believers and no churches among them. Many of these peoples are also unengaged, in the sense that we currently know of no churches or agencies that are even trying to share the gospel with them. Indeed, only a tiny percentage of the church’s resources (human and material) is being directed to the least-reached peoples. By definition these are peoples who will not invite us to come with the good news, since they know nothing about it. Yet their presence among us in our world 2,000 years after you commanded us to make disciples of all nations, constitutes not only a rebuke to our disobedience, not only a form of spiritual injustice, but also a silent ‘Macedonian Call’. Forgive us and show us the way forward. Amen.
Let us rise up as the Church worldwide to meet this challenge, and:
a. Repent of our blindness to the continuing presence of so many unreached peoples in our world and our lack of urgency in sharing the gospel among them.
b. Renew our commitment to go to those who have not yet heard the gospel, to engage deeply with their language and culture, to live the gospel among them with incarnational love and sacrificial service, to communicate the light and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ in word and deed, awakening them through the Holy Spirit’s power to the surprising grace of God.
c. Aim to eradicate Bible poverty in the world, for the Bible remains indispensable for evangelism. To do this we must:
(1) Hasten the translation of the Bible into the languages of peoples who do not yet have any portion of God’s Word in their mother tongue;
(2) Make the message of the Bible widely available by oral means. (See also Oral cultures below.)
d. Aim to eradicate Bible ignorance in the Church, for the Bible remains indispensable for discipling believers into the likeness of Christ.
We long to see a fresh conviction, gripping all God’s Church, of the central necessity of Bible teaching for the Church’s growth in ministry, unity and maturity. We rejoice in the gifting of all those whom Christ has given to the Church as pastor-teachers. We will make every effort to identify, encourage, train and support them in the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. In doing so, however, we must reject the kind of clericalism that restricts the ministry of God’s Word to a few paid professionals, or to formal preaching in church pulpits. Many men and women, who are clearly gifted in pastoring and teaching God’s people, exercise their gifting informally or without official denominational structures, but with the manifest blessing of God’s Spirit. They too need to be recognized, encouraged, and equipped to rightly handle the Word of God.
Cities are crucially important for the human future and for world mission. Half the world now lives in cities. Cities are where four major kinds of people are most to be found: (i) the next generation of young people; (ii) the most unreached peoples who have migrated; (iii) the culture shapers; (iv) the poorest of the poor.
We discern your sovereign hand in the massive rise of urbanization in our time, and we urge our church and mission leaders worldwide to respond to this fact by giving urgent strategic attention to urban mission. We must love our cities as you do, with holy discernment and compassion, and obey your command to ‘seek the welfare of the city’, wherever that may be. Help us in our search to learn appropriate and flexible methods of mission that respond to our urban realities. We pray for Bible literacy among the generation that now relates primarily to digital communication rather than books, by encouraging digital methods of studying the Scriptures inductively with the depth of inquiry that at present requires paper, pens, and pencils. Help us keep evangelism at the centre of the fully-integrated scope of all our mission, inasmuch as the gospel itself is the source, content, and authority of all biblically valid mission. All we do should be both an embodiment and a declaration of the love and grace of God and his saving work through you, Jesus our Christ. Amen.