If God wants to be worshipped by all people groups and He has chosen the church to be His messenger, how does He want you, the church, to partner with Him in His plan? Who does He want you to reach, where will you reach them and with whom does He want you to partner in order to reach them? “make disciples of all nations!” (panta ta ethne, Root:ethnos)(Matthew 28:19)
1. Assemble A Team –
Involvement is crucial to mobilizing the whole church in the mission. Allowing others to be involved in the exploring process will create and invite ownership, which will in turn lead to even more involvement.
• Identify existing leaders with a missions passion—mission team/committee, project leaders, staff, lay leaders, etc.
• Select team members based on spiritual health and skill set. As exploring for God’s will is a spiritual exercise, it is more important to select team members who have an intimate walk with God than people who have simply been active in missions. It is also important to remember that some people are fulfilled by doing, not by developing strategy. If you put “doers” on this exploration team, they may be frustrated. Placing the right individuals on the team in the correct roles will greatly impact the outcome of the process.
• Consider developing a temporary exploration team. If you do not have a currently active and functioning mission team, it may be good to form a temporary team that will help develop a preliminary mission strategy for your church. This will give time to observe and identify those individuals best suited to serve on the team long term.
2. Develop Missional Values –
There are many opportunities to become involved in missions. To prevent unfocused, ineffective activity, develop values that will guide ongoing involvement and strategy.
Start with a biblical end vision:
• Strive for a comprehensive plan remembering that God wants ALL people groups to know and worship Him. (Revelation 5:9; 7:9)
• Plan to engage the least reached or unreached peoples both locally and globally. (Acts 1:8)
• Plan for long-term commitment. Because discipleship is the goal, not just conversion. Therefore, long-term involvement is essential. (Matthew 28:18-19)
• Understand that the local church is God’s plan for ongoing disciple making. Therefore, church planting among ALL people groups is a must.
Establish a foundational strategy:
• Seek God for His specific direction
• Understanding the end vision develops the process steps or activities that will be appropriate
• Begin to identify the personality and skill set of the church.
3. You’re State Convention Missions Strategy –
The SBOM/Global Missions Office Alabama Acts 1:8 Connections Missions Strategy seeks to connect Alabama IMB and NAMB and Alabama M’s who call Alabama home. It is the desire of the Global Missions Office of the SBOM to establish networks of churches to connect with OUR missionaries through PRAYER-PARTNERSHIPS- and PEOPLE GROUPS. Alabama Baptist are represented with M’s throughout the world serving with NAMB, ALABAMA SBOM and IMB’s nine Affinity people groups; The Americas; The Central Asia; The Deaf; The Sub-Sahara; The North Africa and the Middle East; The South Asia; The Southeast Asia; The East Asia; The Europeans.
4. Identify Your Existing Relationships –
Has God already sent people out from your church to the mission field? The biblical model is that God calls out people from your church, and the church responds obediently by sending them. Sending depicts partnering. As God calls people out of your church, they are not disconnecting from your church but rather are sent out as representatives from the local church. There is a genuine responsibility of the “sender” to partner with the “sent” and a responsibility of the “sent” to be accountable to the “senders.”
• Missionaries who grew up in your church.
• Missionaries who have been sent from your church.
• Missionaries who have visited your church.
• Missionaries who have relatives in your church.
• Missionaries who come from within your association.
5. Identify Unreached Peoples
People group definition. A people group is a group of individuals, frequently speaking the same language, with a shared self- identity and worldview. Strategically, a people group is the large group through which the Gospel can flow without encountering a significant barrier.
• Identifying unreached people groups will require an intentional and careful look at your own community, nation, and the least reached parts of the world. Understand that disciple making takes time, energy, and love. Identify people groups with a plan to minister long term until they have experienced life and community transformation.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Possible discovery questions:
• What are the current mission activities/partnerships of your church and how effective are these activities as they relate to disciplining unreached peoples and the missional values?
• Within current relationships, are there any unreached peoples you can adopt?
• Are there unreached people groups on the heart of the pastor or the hearts of key leaders in the church?
• Are there pockets of lostness in the church community that are not currently being effectively engaged with the Gospel (i.e., students, cowboys, affinity groups, ethnic groups, geographical area, etc.)?
Possible discovery methods:
• Websites: peoplegroups.org || peoplegroups.info || Joshuaproject.net
• Contact: your local social, government, health, and school officials.
• Contact: IMB.org || NAMB.net || alsbom.org/globalmissions
• Demographic studies: Go to namb.net, click on Mission Resources, then Missional Research, then Knowing Community, then Demographic Reports.
• Global Research: imb.org/globalresearch
6. Choose A Focus People Group –
Study your unreached peoples as groups are identified, begin to study, know and love them.
Study their Culture:
• Primary language
• Primary religion(s)
• Discover cultural landmines that may prevent long-term effectiveness (i.e., clothing, touching with your left hand, showing bottoms of shoes, etc.).
• Identify barriers to understanding the Gospel.
• Discover where they live worldwide (locally and globally).
God has a specific plan for your church to engage unreached peoples both locally and globally. How can you equip your local church to be effectively engaged in what God has called you to do?