We're on a mission from God.
John Piper asks and answers the following intriguing question: Is the unique biblical task of the church's missionary enterprise
- to win as many individuals to Christ as possible before He returns, or
- to win some individuals (i.e., plant a church) among all the peoples of the earth before He returns?
As a hint, I offer the following texts: Rev 5:9-10; Gen 12:1-3; Ps 67:1-3; Rom 15:18-21.
Let me suggest that this is an important question and one that ought to drive our missions & evangelism efforts and resource allocations.
Not only am I convinced of my answer, I'm also convinced that sometimes the other option is used to justify efforts toward the alternative.
In other words, I'm convinced that the mission really is some from every tribe, tongue, people, and ethnicity. I'm also convinced that some believe it's the first option (as many as possible), but will try to validate resource allocation to the seemingly more difficult missions work by speaking to the great (numerical) fruitfulness in a foreign land.
In other words, "Send your missions money here (with me), because I can get you a better ROI (Return on Investment). Why send it where there aren't droves of people professing faith in Jesus?"
The answer may well have to do with the difficulty of walking an unpaved road, but a road leading to those without the Gospel.
“I only want men who will go where the road is not paved.”
~ Dr. David Livingstone, missionary in Africa
“I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written, 'Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.'”
~ Paul, apostle to the ethnicities (Rom 15:20-21)
- For John Piper's answer and explanation, read "The Tension Between Domestic Ministries and Frontier Missions" at the 1988 Western Seminary Missions Conference.