This is an article from the January-February 2013 issue: Reaching the Unengaged


The God-Given Right 
to “Access”


They are some of the most eloquent and profound words ever put to paper. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These familiar words, taken from the United States Declaration of Independence written in July 1776, have changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. 

But with all due honor, appreciation and respect to the epic contribution of Thomas Jefferson and the others who penned these immortal words, they did not include the most important of Rights1 with which our Creator has endowed us. Perhaps it was assumed, but inherent in the existence of the Creator are the Right to know Him and to follow Him in obedience. Every person is created equal before the throne of God with the Right to know the gospel and what God has done for each person through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. I recognize that not all will choose to believe and not all are the elect of God, but everyone at least has the Right to know the gospel and to choose freely whether to act upon that knowledge in faith. It is all about access. Every person has the God-given Right to have access to the gospel. 

Even when a Right is declared, as in the Declaration of Independence, it must be worked for and pursued. We must give everything we have to the struggle in order for the God-given Right to become a reality in the lives of people. Likewise the Right to have access to the gospel must be worked for and diligently pursued in order for it to be realized.

God has called us, those who claim Jesus as their Savior, to make sure that this Right is secured for every person, tribe and tongue. This calling is at the heart of the missionary task. As followers of Jesus, all of us have been called to be on mission with God to overcome every barrier that keeps people from having access to the gospel. That is what this issue of Mission Frontiers is all about—overcoming all the barriers that are keeping the Church from engaging every people so that every person may have access to the gospel. We call those peoples whom no agency is working to reach the unengaged. And as Paul Eshleman says in his lead article starting on page 6, “it’s time to act” to make sure that every people has someone working to reach them. It is up to us, the Church, who have access to the gospel, to decide whether we will obey what God has commanded and provide others with the same Right of access we have enjoyed. 

Getting There is the First Step

There are two basic stages to the expansion of the gospel into any people. The first is to establish a “beachhead” for the gospel in every people where agencies engage these unengaged groups and missionary efforts are initiated. In this day, there is no reason to compete for disciples where other agencies are already working. There are plenty of unengaged peoples to go around. 

We must move as quickly as possible to mobilize the resources needed to get workers into all of the peoples who remain unengaged, peoples with no one working to establish a Church-Planting Movement in their midst. The lists of unengaged peoples are being refined so we have a better idea than ever before which peoples are being neglected and need a missionary outreach by some agency. Starting on page 26, Phill Butler gives us an overview of the barriers that are keeping us from reaching these unengaged peoples. 

The Second Step: Catalyze a Movement

Once a “beachhead” for the gospel has been initiated, the goal is to establish a self-replicating Church-Planting Movement within that people so they can eventually reach their own without outside help. Typically mission workers have stayed too long and done too much, thereby creating dependency. Instead, the missionary task is to initiate and to catalyze movements of multigenerational discipleship and church planting by working with the people to establish the foundational DNA of biblical truth that a Church-Planting Movement uses to replicate generation after generation in the lives of new disciples and churches. 

The type of church we establish when we get to these peoples is critical. Instead of following the failed Western model of doing church, we need to train new believers to make disciples who are able to make disciples and plant churches that rapidly replicate themselves. This must be our ministry focus, not growing the attendance at church services, as so many are prone to do. 

The simple fact is that providing access to the gospel for every person, tribe and tongue is a pipe dream unless our goal is to equip and deploy every believer in every people group to be a disciple-maker or church-planter. It is simply not possible to mobilize and deploy enough professional missionaries and pastors to replace the enormous exponential power of the average believer who is trained to make disciples who then go on to make more disciples who are likewise equipped. So if the development of a Church-Planting Movement is our goal within every people, then we need to make it our highest priority and focus to learn how to create these movements of multigenerational discipleship. We have presented a number of methods for developing CPMs in the pages of recent issues of MF. But these methods need to be continually applied and refined in various contexts around the world so that a critical mass of skilled practitioners will emerge who are capable of catalyzing these movements in every people. Every church must become an “equipping center” for multigenerational discipleship, not just a worship center.

The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we believe that the goal of providing access to the gospel for every person, tribe and tongue is worthy of our supreme efforts and sacrifices. Thomas Jefferson and the other signers of the Declaration of Independence concluded by saying, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” They were willing to sacrifice everything they had and to trust God for His provision to realize the earthly goal of establishing a new nation. Are we as followers of Jesus likewise committed to the more important mission of providing access to the gospel for every person, tribe and tongue? 

  1. The words Right and Rights are capitalized in this column for emphasis and in accordance with the style of the original Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.


The Ralph D Winter Lectureship with Greg Boyd is surprising. I couldn’t find thoug,h. Boyd’s “Is God to Blame?” leads me to ask “When you have a decision to make, does God know what you will choose before are aware of your choice (before you choose)?


Your comment does not relate to anything in my editorial, but I will attempt to give you my best answer.  I suggest you contact the Roberta Winter Institute if you would like to talk more about Gregory Boyd and his invitation to speak at the Ralph Winter Lectureship. You can call the main switchboard at 626-797-1111 and ask for them. A few years ago we had an article by Gregory Boyd in MF which was unrelated to his Open Theism fame, and questions were raised. Dr. Winter responded at that time that just because we have an author speak to a particular topic does not mean that we endorse every view ever expressed by that author either verbally or in writing. We accept articles from a wide variety of people from an Evangelical background because of the content of their article unrelated to whatever else they have written.  I hope this helps.

I am a Converted from Islam to Christianity, it is true that people like me are often not accepted by most Churches or treated differantly. many time I face such things that who know if you are Christian, it is not written on your face, may be you are spy. specially in White Churches they count of colours of people. when you talk about a convertd from Islam or hinduism, you already knows that this person is asian not white by race.

I knows some converted who turn back to their previouse faith and family and reason was no body was to take care of them. Who is responsible for this action? a, person left everything and need everything specially unconditional love but hard to find???

Matthew 7:21 Lord talk about leadership, what you will answer at the day of judgement. or matthew 25:34ff,

I serve a self supportive missionary and most of the time found that Churches are a big business in these days.

Please take the great commission from heart and spread it to all nations, many need to know about Christ. it is time to take the Message of Jesus and present it to the lost souls.

a little about me:

“The simple fact is that providing access to the gospel for every person, tribe and tongue is a pipe dream unless our goal is to equip and deploy every believer in every people group to be a disciple-maker or church-planter.”

This is so key.  We have to deal with the “clergy/laity” divided mindset in all of our approaches.  God calls his leaders to equip and deploy as you have pointed out.

Any strategy not focused on doing these functions needs to seriously be re-evaluated.


I certainly agree with you. What methods or strategies have you discovered that are effectively making disciples.


John Lambert,
T4T is the best approach I have seen. It helps laymen become mighty leaders for Christ. Steve Smith’s book ‘T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution’ should be a “best seller” among Christians. I keep rereading it, and every time I am blessed with deeper understanding of Christ’s plan to redeem the world. My heart aches for a book like Steve’s that could be a “best seller” in the mass marker: one would could be read by ‘every man’ so the Holy Spirit could work in the lives of those He is calling to ministry, even if they don’t yet know the Lord.


Again, I agree with you. I have read T4T myself and believe that every believer should be reading this. In some ways it is so basic to what we should all be doing but its impact could be profound if more believers got ahold of the truths contained in it.
I frequently give copies to the key people I make contact with.



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