Statement of Beliefs
Radical exists to equip Christians to be on mission.
Radical serves the church by equipping Christians to follow Jesus and to make him known in their neighborhoods and among all nations. In places where the gospel is already accessible, we work to awaken and mobilize the church. In areas where access is limited, we work to advance the gospel and see churches planted.
THE TRI-UNE GOD
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.
God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.
CREATION OF HUMANITY
We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in his own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role of elder/pastor/overseer in the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption, and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments or pragmatic considerations.
- Gender and Creation
Scripture teaches that God created men and women in his image (Genesis 1:26–27) and for his glory. Therefore, Radical believes that all people should be treated with equal dignity, regardless of gender (or any other distinction). As part of God’s good design, he has made distinctions between men and women, distinctions that pertain to their bodies and to their complementary roles in the world, in the home, and in the church. We affirm that gender is a gift from God given for our good and that it should be gladly embraced. Because of how God has created us, we deny that it is possible or desirable to change our gender.
- Marriage and Sexuality
The God-given distinction between men and women is particularly expressed in the marriage relationship. God established marriage as an exclusive, one-flesh union between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31). All sexual activity outside of marriage (as marriage is defined in Scripture), including adultery, homosexuality, and all other expressions of sexual immorality, is prohibited by Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19).
We believe that Adam, made in the image of God, distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.
THE PLAN OF GOD
We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.
The gospel is the good news that God, the loving Creator, sovereign King, and holy Judge of all, has looked upon men and women wonderfully and uniquely made by him in his image who have rebelled against him, are separated from him, and deserve death before him, and he has sent his Son, Jesus, God in the flesh, the long-awaited King, to live a perfect and powerful life, to die a sacrificial and substitutionary death, and to rise from the grave in victory over sin, Satan, and death. The gospel is a summons from God for all people in all nations to repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, turning from all idols to declare allegiance to Jesus alone as King and trust in Jesus alone as Lord. All who have not put their trust in Jesus Christ will experience everlasting, horrifying suffering in hell, while all who trust in Jesus will experience everlasting, satisfying communion with God in heaven. (Isaiah 5:16, 6:1–7; Mark 1:14–15; John 3:1–21; Romans 3:1–31; 1 Corinthians 15:1–8; Ephesians 2:1–10; 1 Timothy 1:15; Titus 3:4–7)
THE REDEMPTION OF CHRIST
We believe that, moved by love and in obedience to his Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully human being, one Person in two natures. The man Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel, was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miraculous signs, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. As the mediatorial King, he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, exercising in heaven and on earth all of God’s sovereignty, and is our High Priest and righteous Advocate. We believe that by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ acted as our representative and substitute. He did this so that in him we might become the righteousness of God: on the cross he canceled sin, propitiated God, and, by bearing the full penalty of our sins, reconciled to God all those who believe. By his resurrection Christ Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death and defeated Satan who once had power over it, and brought everlasting life to all his people; by his ascension he has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with him. We believe that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Because God chose the lowly things of this world, the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, no human being can ever boast before him—Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
THE JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS
We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.
THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe that this salvation, attested in all Scripture and secured by Jesus Christ, is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the other Paraclete, is present with and in believers. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and by his powerful and mysterious work regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith, and in him they are baptized into union with the Lord Jesus, such that they are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. By the Spirit’s agency, believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God’s family; they participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts. The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. The mission of the kingdom is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all nations, resulting in redeemed citizens of the king from all peoples forming indigenous communities of the king (the church), living in love, harmony, and care as they yield to the will of their king in service to each other and to the world, both locally and to the ends of the earth. This is why Radical believes that the mission priority of the church is the planting of churches (with churches defined by Scripture rather than the latest expedient or contemporary model) among those who have never heard. Those churches that are planted become the indigenous manifestation that the kingdom has come to that people, as these communities of the king proclaim and live out the good news of the kingdom.
GOD’S NEW PEOPLE
We believe that God’s new covenant people have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem; they are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies. This universal church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each “local church” is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of his eye, graven on his hands, and he has pledged himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which may properly be overlooked. Christ Jesus is our peace: he has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.
BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.
THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS
We believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels, when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his kingdom will be consummated. We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as our Lord himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering, and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.
Most of the wording in the section labeled “Our Beliefs” is taken from The Gospel Coalition’s confessional statement.
The Bible is the Word of God, and it is the final, controlling authority for all we think, desire, say, and do. The Bible determines and dictates how we understand and carry out Christ’s command to make disciples of all the nations.
God is our supreme passion. Our aim in all things is to honor God the Father through faith in God the Son and intimacy with God the Spirit.
The global glory of God is our ultimate motivation. Because God’s ultimate motivation is his glory known and enjoyed among all the nations, this should be the ultimate motivation of every church and follower of Christ.
Salvation from sin is the greatest and most urgent need of every human being. Such salvation is only possible when people hear the message of the gospel and respond in repentance and faith.
Making disciples of all the nations is the primary responsibility and privilege of every local church. Obviously, no one local church can or should do this alone, and God calls local churches to cooperate together in this task, but if a local church is not intentionally working to see disciples made among all the nations, then that local church is disobeying the Great Commission.
Every Christian is called by God to leverage his or her life (gifts, time, resources, work, etc.) for the church’s mission of making disciples of all the nations. The global cause of Christ should dictate everything a Christian thinks, desires, and does.
Making disciples of all nations means planting and multiplying biblical churches among all nations. By God’s design, the most effective way to reach the nations is by planting and multiplying churches God’s way.
The Great Commission is a global commission, intended for all the body of Christ in all the world. Therefore, we mobilize and partner with Christians and churches among the nations for the spread of the gospel to the nations.
We care deeply about all suffering, especially everlasting suffering. Therefore, we work for the spread of God’s mercy amidst physical suffering on earth, even as we prioritize the spread of God’s salvation from eternal suffering in hell.
The greatest injustice in the world is that over 3 billion people in thousands of people groups have little to no access to the gospel. Reaching unreached peoples and places with the gospel should be an urgent priority for every Christian and every local church.
Gospel: The gospel is the good news that God, the loving Creator, sovereign King, and holy Judge of all, has looked upon men and women wonderfully and uniquely made by him in his image who have rebelled against him, are separated from him, and deserve death before him, and he has sent his Son, Jesus, God in the flesh, the long-awaited King, to live a perfect and powerful life, to die a sacrificial and substitutionary death, and to rise from the grave in victory over sin, Satan, and death. The gospel is a summons from God for all people in all nations to repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, turning from all idols to declare allegiance to Jesus alone as King and trust in Jesus alone as Lord. All who turn from Jesus will experience everlasting, horrifying suffering in hell, while all who trust in Jesus will experience everlasting, satisfying communion with God in heaven. (Isaiah 5:16, 6:1–7; Mark 1:14–15; John 3:1–21; Romans 3:1–31; 1 Corinthians 15:1–8; Ephesians 2:1–10; 1 Timothy 1:15; Titus 3:4–7)
Evangelism: Evangelism is the proclamation of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit with the aim of persuading people to repent and believe in Jesus Christ thru divine enablement (Luke 24:47; John 16:8–11; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:11).
Conversion: Conversion is the divinely-enabled personal response of individuals to the gospel in which they turn from their sin and themselves (repent) and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord (believe). (John 3:1–21, 6:44, 10:27–30; Romans 3:10–20, 8:38–39; Galatians 5:19–24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 2:5–6, 19, 3:9–10, 14–15, 24; 4:20)
Disciple: Disciples are followers of Jesus. They have turned from their sin and trusted in Jesus as their Savior. They have died to themselves and surrendered their lives to him as Lord. Jesus now lives in them, transforming everything about them from the inside out. There are several marks of this transformation in a disciple’s mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose. The first mark of a disciple, a transformed heart, occurs when a disciple places initial faith in Jesus. The rest are found in increasing measure as a disciple grows through faith in Jesus as a member of his body, the church. (Matthew 28:16–20; Mark 1:17; Luke 6:40; Romans 8:29).
Disciple-Making: Disciple-making is the Christ-commanded, Spirit-empowered responsibility of disciples of Jesus to play their God-given part in evangelizing unbelievers, baptizing believers, teaching believers the Word of Christ, and training believers to obey Christ as members of his church who make disciples and plant more churches on mission to all nations.
Church: On a general level, the New Testament identifies the church as the body of Christ, which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. However, the overwhelming majority of references to the church in the New Testament are to local churches, which are groups of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who are committed to each other to be the body of Christ to one another and who meet together regularly to carry out the functions of a biblical church. Those functions are summarized in the following 12 traits of a biblical church:
- A church is characterized by biblical evangelism. People come into the church because they have heard the full biblical message of the gospel and have responded in repentance and faith. These biblically-converted people then continue to share the gospel with the lost in a lifestyle of evangelism.
- A church is characterized by biblical discipleship. Members of the church intentionally invest in one another’s lives to grow to maturity in Jesus Christ. This discipleship is characterized by transformed hearts, transformed minds, transformed affections, transformed wills, transformed relationships, and a transformed purpose, all in keeping with the Word of God.
- A church is characterized by biblical membership. The members consist only of people who give credible evidence of repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who have been baptized as believers. Biblical church members are committed to one another to assemble faithfully together with one another and to be the body of Christ to one another.
- A church is characterized by biblical leadership. The Bible recognizes two offices in the church: pastors/elders/overseers and deacons. In the New Testament, the words “pastor,” “elder,” and “overseer” are used interchangeably and refer to the same office. The qualifications for these leaders are given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. They must be examples of faithful discipleship and they must hold firmly to sound doctrine. They must be gifted by God to teach. According to Scripture, pastors/elders/overseers must be men. Scripture is clear that not everyone is gifted and called to teach and lead in the church, but all gifts are equally honorable and equally necessary to the church. The consistent pattern in the New Testament is for churches to have a plurality of pastors/elders/overseers. Deacons are servants of the church whose qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. They are chosen as needed to perform tasks which free the pastors/elders/overseers to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer.
- A church is characterized by biblical preaching and teaching. Such teaching is central to the weekly gathering of the church, and it consists of the exposition and application of the text of Scripture. The church regards the Bible as the supreme, controlling authority over all that it believes and does, and the life of a healthy church is saturated with faithful Bible teaching. A healthy church holds to the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, sufficiency, and clarity of Scripture, and it interprets each text of the Bible responsibly in context.
- A church is characterized by the biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is immersion in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and it is only administered to those who give credible evidence that they are born-again believers in Jesus Christ. All believers are expected to be baptized. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated regularly by a biblical church in remembrance of the death of Jesus, as a visible sermon of the gospel and in anticipation of his return.
- A church is characterized by biblical worship. It offers to God worship that is acceptable to him according to his Word, with reverence, awe, and joy. It sings psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with content that is saturated with biblical truth. Its worship includes the public reading of Scripture, the testimonies of God’s people, and prayer. As appropriate, it also includes corporate fasting. All of its worship aims to glorify God and edify his people.
- A church is characterized by biblical fellowship. Members of the church love one another, encourage one another, and build one another up. They care for one another, serve one another, and bear one another’s burdens. They are kind to one another and forgive one another. They teach, admonish, and exhort one another with the Word of God. They stir one another up to love and good works. They are involved in one another’s lives and know each other well enough to be fruitfully involved in one another’s discipleship.
- A church is characterized by biblical prayer. Members of the church pray both privately and corporately. In their prayers, they worship God, confess their sins, thank God for his blessings, intercede for others, and ask God to provide for their own needs. A biblical church prays fervently and frequently.
- A church is characterized by biblical accountability and discipline. Members of the church hold one another accountable for their obedience to the Word of God, and leaders of the church watch over the flock that has been entrusted to them. When necessary, the church exercises church discipline according to the instructions given in Scripture, always praying and laboring for restoration of an erring brother or sister.
- A church is characterized by biblical giving. Members of the church give freely of their resources for the support of those who teach them the Word, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the advance of the gospel around the world.
- A church is characterized by biblical mission. Not only is the church organized to share the gospel and make disciples locally, but it is also organized and actively involved in taking the gospel to the nations. Members of a biblical church demonstrate the goodness of God in their works of mercy and justice while declaring the gospel of God to the lost, with a particular focus on spreading the gospel to unreached peoples and places.
Calling: As disciples of Jesus attempt to determine how and where God would have them participate in the church’s mission, it may be helpful to consider four different ways in which God calls, or directs, the lives of his people.
- Call to salvation / First and foremost, calling is the gracious act of God by which he draws people to become disciples of Jesus in union with him as a member of his church. The call to salvation comes through the proclamation of God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit. Accompanying the call to salvation in Christ is a call to freedom, holiness, and suffering in Christ. The call to salvation forms the unshakeable foundation of a disciple’s primary identity now and forever. (Matthew 9:13; Acts 2:39; Romans 1:6, 8:28–30, 9:22–26; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 24; Galatians 1:6, 5:13; Ephesians 1:18, 4:1–4; 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 4:7, 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:15–16, 2:9, 20–21, 5:10; 2 Peter 1:3, 10; Jude 1:1).
- Call to mission / The call to salvation includes a call to mission, for every person who responds to God’s call receives Christ’s command to make disciples of Jesus. Disciple-making is thus the God-given, Christ-enabled, Spirit-empowered duty of every disciple whatever his or her station, location, or vocation. In this way, every disciple plays an integral part in the eternal purpose of God to glorify his name through disciples made in every nation. (Matthew 4:18-22, 28:16–20; Luke 24:44–49; Acts 1:8)
- Call to station / Christ calls disciples to specific stations in and through which they exalt him on mission. One such station is within the family, where Christians are called to be faithful sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers for the spread of God’s gospel and the display of God’s glory. Scripture also speaks of a divine call to singleness for the sake of mission, either for a period or for the entirety of one’s life in this world. Other calls to specific stations include Christ’s call to meaningful membership in his church and his call to responsible citizenship in one’s community. (1 Corinthians 7:17–40)
- Call to service / Finally, calling is the gracious act of God by which he directs disciples of Jesus to make disciples among the nations as members of a church in a certain way, at a certain time, among a certain people, in a certain location, or through a certain vocation. Calls to service may be fluid, operating at varying levels and open to varying assignments from God. Calls to service are discerned and affirmed in community as a member of the church on mission in the world through Spirit-led, Word-driven, prayer-focused examination of a disciple’s desires, gifts, abilities, and opportunities. (Matthew 4:18–22, 9:9, 10:1–4; Acts 13:1–3, 16:10; Romans 1:1; Hebrews 5:4). God’s calls to salvation, mission, station, and service bring strength and comfort for disciples to persevere in times of trial and trouble, doubt and discouragement, pressure and persecution.
Global worker (also referred to as a missionary): A global worker is a disciple of Jesus set apart by the Holy Spirit and sent out from the church to cross geographic, cultural, and/or linguistic barriers as part of a team of global workers that is making disciples and planting a church (or churches) with the goal of spreading the gospel among unreached peoples and places. (Note: Radical typically uses the term “global worker” rather than “missionary” due to the fact that openly identifying as a missionary can raise security concerns in many cross-cultural contexts.)
A team of global workers is an identifiable group of disciples who meet together regularly, care for each other selflessly, and partner with one another intentionally to make disciples and plant a church (or churches) among particular unreached peoples and/or places. (It should be noted that a team of global workers is not necessarily a church. In order to be a church, a team must meet the criteria of a church as laid out in Scripture.) In the New Testament, disciples on mission most often served on teams in which individuals had different roles and responsibilities. Scripture points to personal, practical, and pastoral reasons for disciples on mission not to serve in isolation. Evangelistic reasons also exist for disciples to exalt Christ in the context of Christian community. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 10:1; Acts 1:8, 13:1–3, 15:36–40, 17:10–15, 18:1–5; Romans 16:1–16; Philippians 4:2–3)
Unreached People and Places: 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.
In contemporary terminology, unreached peoples refer to ethnolinguistic groups in which the number of evangelical Christians is less than 2%. Though this definition is helpful in some ways, it is problematic in others, in particular because:
It arbitrarily identifies a 2% threshold as the determinant between “reached” and “unreached.” Missiologists have examined sociological data to determine the threshold at which a population segment can sufficiently spread its ideas to its broader population without outside assistance. However, sociologists (and consequently missiologists) have disagreed on what percentage of people constitutes that threshold. This reality, in addition to the absence of biblical prescription regarding such a threshold, renders attempts to identify a particular percentage of people as “unreached” or “reached” problematic, particularly if that percentage becomes the sole determinant in mission strategy. We believe it is valuable to identify the percentage of evangelicals among a particular people group or in a particular place, but we also couple that percentage with research regarding a number of other factors in order to accurately identify the state of the church and the access to the gospel among that people or in that place. Based upon all of this information, we then organize which global workers we deploy where and what those workers do when they get there, letting the state of the church determine our strategy for mission. (For more on the term “global worker,” see the definition immediately above.)
It unnecessarily limits the “unreached” label to a particular people group. Research regarding people groups is necessary in light of Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations (of all the ethne), Christ’s promise that the gospel will be proclaimed as a testimony to all nations (to all the ethne) before the end comes, and the Bible’s guarantee that individuals from every tribe, language, people, and nation will one day be ransomed by God and represented in heaven. It is beneficial, then, to identify ethnolinguistic groups in the world and to track the spread of the gospel among them with the goal of reaching all of them. Furthermore, such research must inform mission strategy. However, we do not ignore the reality that when the New Testament records the spread of the gospel through the early church, biblical authors strongly focus on places, not only peoples. In Luke’s account of Paul’s missionary journeys, he primarily records the spread of the gospel from city to city and region to region, not people group to people group. Moreover, in Paul’s clear explanation of his passion to proclaim the gospel where Christ has not been named, he speaks in terms of distinct places, not of distinct people groups. This does not mean that biblical accounts neglect the mention (and even importance) of ethnic and cultural distinctions among Christian converts, but the earliest missionaries seem focused not just on spreading the gospel to unreached peoples, but also (and often even more so) to unreached places.
It is both biblical and helpful, then, to recognize the unreached in terms of both peoples and places, for both realities bear uniquely upon mission strategy.
Recognizing the unreached in terms of particular people groups has a unique bearing on disciple-making. Ethnolinguistic barriers often hinder the spread of the gospel across people groups. Global workers must consider such barriers in evangelism and discipleship as they contextualize the gospel for their listeners. Global workers must often learn a language in order to share the gospel, and they should always consider the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious distinctions of their listeners when communicating the gospel to them and applying the gospel to their lives.
Recognizing the unreached in terms of places has a unique bearing on church planting. As previously noted, New Testament mission patterns put a clear priority on planting churches in unreached places. As we do so, we must never reinforce racial, economic, or social divisions in our strategy. We recognize that evangelistic effectiveness often requires a focus on a particular language and a particular people. We also acknowledge that believers should be able to worship God in their own language and culture. At the same time, we recognize that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls between different races and classes. We reject the notion that any church should ever exclude anyone based on race, class, or gender.
To be sure, getting to this point in church planting can be a process that demands much patience and wisdom in disciple-making. But it remains the end toward which we are working until the day when all the peoples gather as one people to give glory to God through Christ.
Mission strategy, then, focuses on both unreached peoples and places. The church deploys teams of global workers to unreached places where Christ is largely unknown and the church is relatively insufficient to make Christ known in its broader population without outside help. The church also deploys such teams to reached places with a significant population of unreached peoples. In addition, the church deploys global worker teams to reached places with significant potential for reaching unreached peoples and places. Regardless of place, we proclaim the gospel to all people with an intentional focus on reaching different peoples and gathering them together into churches. In this way, we are resolutely focused on playing our part in seeing disciples made and churches planted in every place and among every people group in the world.
Kingdom of God: The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. The mission of the kingdom is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all nations, resulting in redeemed citizens of the king from all peoples forming indigenous communities of the king (the church), living in love, harmony, and care as they yield to the will of their king in service to each other and to the world, both locally and to the ends of the earth. This is why Radical believes that the mission priority of the church is the planting of churches (with churches defined by Scripture rather than the latest expedient or contemporary model) among those who have never heard. Those churches that are planted become the indigenous manifestation that the kingdom has come to that people, as these communities of the king proclaim and live out the good news of the kingdom.