What is the Great Imbalance? - Radical

What is the Great Imbalance?

Jesus has given us a clear command to make disciples of all the nations, meaning all the people groups of the world. Yet 2000 years later, over three billion people in over 7,000 people groups are unreached by the gospel.

What does this word “unreached” mean? Well, unreached does not just mean that people are lost. Anyone who doesn’t have faith in Jesus is lost, regardless of where an individual lives in the world. People are just as lost in the United States as they are in Afghanistan.

However, millions of followers of Jesus and multitudes of churches exist in the United States. Meanwhile, there are very few followers of Jesus or churches in Afghanistan, which means that people in Afghanistan don’t have access to the gospel like people do in the United States. This is what it means to be unreached. It’s not that people have heard (or can hear) the gospel and they choose not to believe it. It’s that they haven’t heard it, and can’t hear it, because no one around them knows it.

Imbalanced Sending and Spending

Yet in spite of Jesus’ command the state of the world, followers of Jesus and churches spend most of our resources on ourselves, and only a small percentage of our resources on what we often call “missions” overseas. But did you know that even out of the resources we spend on “missions” overseas, approximately 99% of those resources go to places that are already reached with the gospel? In places like Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Europe and Asia that are reached by the gospel. What this means is that churches are spending approximately 1% of our “missions” resources on the spread of the gospel to three billion people in 7,000 people groups who haven’t heard it.

Approximately 99% of resources spent on missions go to places that are already reached with the gospel.

In addition to spending most of our resources on ourselves, and even our “missions” resources on reached parts of the world, we also send most missionaries from churches to places where the gospel has already gone. Only about 3% of the hundreds of thousands of missionaries who have moved to another nation for the spread of the gospel are specifically serving among the unreached.

To be clear, I want to honor all the men and women who have moved their lives and families to minister in all kinds of places around the world. And I want to affirm the ways God leads His church to support and partner with other churches in reached places of the world. At the same time, surely more than 1% of our “missions” giving and 3% of missionaries we send from the church should be going to over three billion unreached people in the world. This is a Great Imbalance, and it is keeping us from obeying the Great Commission Jesus has given us.

A Tectonic Change and Opportunity

The need to rectify this great imbalance becomes even more urgent when we realize that the population of the world is increasing, including the number of unreached people. The current rate of missions spending and giving is nowhere close to keeping up with the population increases, which means that unless something changes—in a tectonic way—more people than ever before in history will go to hell in the days to come without ever hearing how to go to heaven. In other words, something needs to change soon and in a significant way.

And change is possible! Both in the church and in the world. As followers of Jesus today, we have more opportunities to reach these three billion people in the world than ever before in history. Advancements in technology, ease of travel, the urbanization of the world, and the globalization of the marketplace, and unprecedented wealth God has entrusted to the church all make the spread of the gospel among all the nations more possible than ever before.

But we won’t steward this opportunity if a select number of Christians in select churches decide to rectify this imbalance and obey Jesus’ commission. This will take all of us – every woman, man, and child filled with the Spirit of God for the spread of the gospel of God in the world. In an Esther-like way, God has each of us in this time, in this place, with greater opportunities than ever before, to reach more people than ever before.

So let’s each play our part and spend our lives, families, and churches praying, giving, going, and mobilizing others to do the same until even the concept of unreached people is no more.

This article is an adapted excerpt from Secret Church 21: The Great Imbalance.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!