What's the Difference Between "Lost" and "Unreached"?

Over the past few days, we've been defining some important terms—people group, unreached, unengaged. Earlier this week, we looked at the realities of what it means for someone to be unreached. But we know this raises another important question.

Is there a difference between being “lost” and being “unreached”? Aren’t we just splitting hairs here?

If we define the unreached as people groups among whom there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage the people group with church planting, then there is definitely a difference between people who are lost and people who are unreached. Both realities are tragic, but they are not the same.

For example, the people who work at your office are not unreached. Why? Because they have access to the gospel—you are their access to the gospel! They are lost, and for the salvation of their souls, they must respond to the gospel with repentance and faith. But because you are in their life (and, presumably, so are other Christians), they are not unreached.

While an individual can't be more or less lost (you either know Jesus or you don't), an individual can have more or less access to the gospel. For this reason, it’s important that we talk specifically about UPGs.

We should always be sensitive to the lost, having eternity in our eyes and the good news on our lips. But when there are over 6,500 UPGs comprised of at least 2 billion individuals, it's safe to say that the unreached deserve our urgent attention.


* If you missed the first three posts in this series, you can read them here: Who Are the Unreached?, How Many People Are Unreached?, What Does It Mean To Be Unreached?