Understanding the unreached segments in pockets of lostness

March 6, 2018

This podcast was recorded at the Disciple-Making Conference breakout session training. Russ Reaves and Steve Harris dive into a discussion of unreached population groups, likening these pockets of lostness to spaghetti as they often feature common strands woven throughout one pocket to another. Hundreds of these pockets of lostness—geographic areas in which the population is highly dense, diverse and distanced from the gospel—have been identified in North Carolina. Reaves and Harris explore the commonalities, how to engage the groups in disciple-making and how to leverage strands in one pocket for similar strands in another.

Here is an excerpt from this podcast:

A pocket of lostness is a geographic area up to a three-mile radius in which the population in that area is highly unchurched—usually up around 70 percent or more unchurched. In these pockets of lostness, they are identified by several categories: population density, high diversity within that population, and population distance from the gospel—the people self-proclaim themselves to be far from God. I remember reading a few years ago, when Jerry Rankin was president of the IMB [International Mission Board], he was writing about pancakes and waffles. What Rankin said was that we can’t look at the world like it’s a pancake, where, when you pour syrup over it, it flows all over smoothly and gets all over it. But rather, he says, it’s more like a waffle: a matrix of squares separated by ridges. So, if you want syrup all over your waffle, you have to deliberately pour it into each little square. The picture here is of a world that is full of diverse peoples who are separated from each other by cultural barriers that keep the gospel from flowing cross-culturally. If you think about that in terms of a pocket of lostness, we want to look at this like it’s a waffle, not a pancake. We’ve had, in some cases, created a grid in a pocket of lostness. The problem with that approach is that, even within that square, there is such diversity and such cultural difference between people who live next door to each other that it’s really more like spaghetti. What I mean by that is that these hard-to-reach population segments meander all through the pocket and it takes a different kind of strategy to reach each one of them. Our goal is to see sustainable, reproducible disciple-making taking place among every population segment in a lost pocket.

Editor’s Note: Russ Reaves and Stephen Harris both serve on the Strategic Focus Team for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. 

Strategic Focus Team  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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