“I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation….But now no longer having a place in these parts….” (Rom 15:20,23)
Mission emphasis has seen focus shifts from geographical to people-group, and more recently to age group (4-14 Window). But, while we look at the other identifiers like people-group and age-group, we must not forget the full picture of the Great Commission to go into all the world (geographical) and preach the gospel to every creature (personal) and make disciples of every nation (ethno-anthropological). Some falsely interpret mission to be denominational church planting (they disregard the local churches in an area and make it a goal to plant their own denomination, in addition!). Some have the mission to start linguistic churches for their diasporic groups only (closed to others). But, just because all these paradigms “work” don’t mean that they are right. There is a danger in over-emphasizing ethnos or age over a geographical territory. The New Testament never talks about a Hebrew Church or a Greek Church or a Latin Church in the same town or city (of course, it didn’t even have an idea of a “Children’s Church” and an “Adults’ Church”); it would always only talk of a local church with reference to its geographical demarcations: e.g., the Church at Ephesus or the Church at Corinth. Well, historical developments have made things a bit complicated now. Yet, whatever our identifying qualifiers are, we must not forget the geo-emphasis of the Great Commission. Of course, there are needs related to reviving churches, instructing people in the gospel, and evangelizing the neighborhood. The five-fold ministry is given for the same. But, we must also not forget that while it seems that much geographical area has already been covered and there doesn’t seem a place where one may say that the church is not there, there are still places where Christ is unknown yet.