Pride goeth before a fall: focusing on the least of the least reached

People love “top 10” lists. Mission folk are no exception.
“I’m focused on the no. 1 least evangelized group in the world.”
“Our church only focuses on groups that are unreached.”
“We only send workers to the unengaged.”
Problem is, the thresholds between one group and another are often difficult to reach. For example:

  • Unreached has no numeric measurement. The 2%/5% measure many use is just convenience.
  • How do you measure % Christian? Are you talking about all Christians, or just evangelicals, or just one particular denomination?
  • Which is more ‘unreached’: a small group with no Christians and no workers, or a huge group (such as 100 million or more) with a tiny minority church? (One has a smaller % Christian, but the other has more non-Christians).
  • You might think “have no Scripture” counts, but there are transition points: some Bible stories translated, a Gospel portion translated (like Luke, or Psalms, or Genesis), the whole New Testament translated, and the whole Bible translated.

This is not academic. Some make decisions – such as who they will continue to fund – based on these ideas.
“They said they had decided they were only gonna focus on the [unengaged, least-reached, unreached, or other scales], so they terminated our funding,” is one anecdotal complaint I’ve heard on more than one occasion.
Focusing on the least reached can be strategic.
But it can also be a matter of pride.
Which of these two it is might be determined by how well the group has thought through and defined “least reached,” and the transition points at which you enter in and withdraw from work, and how you help ministries and workers that you’ve supported transition through the loss of your support.