Let us set aside the question of why your church should take up the challenge of reaching an unengaged People Group; others will give you numerous reasons. In fact, you may have already embraced the “Why” but just can’t get by the “How” as it seems such a different role, such a huge task, and you just can’t see a practical way to accomplish the challenge placed before you.
Our church took on this role in 2006 and adopted 7 Unreached, Unengaged People Groups in 4 different countries. In hindsight, probably a bit ambitious, but almost 6 years later, I venture to say God used our enthusiasm and faith with a clear sprinkling of leadership to make a difference in His Kingdom work. Some were failures, at least in our human perspective, but we learned and continue to learn from all of our projects. We have also had great successes with house churches planted, bible translations completed, and many lives changed.
Projects might seem like a foreign word to use in relationship to Kingdom work. But in the understanding the “How”, Project Management becomes one of the keys to success along with:
Partnering; with God, with inspired lay leaders in your church, with the local church that has access and a heart for the unengaged people group, with local mission organizations, and sometimes even with governments.
Persistence; this is not something that happens quickly (as it is said, “There is a reason why these people groups are unreached, and unengaged!”). Persistence in responding to obstacles and patience in managing expectations. Remember, God often uses the “journey” for His purposes.
Prejudice – actually Without Prejudice; understanding the local culture is vital and not bringing in your preconceived, fixed “Western” way. As authors Fikkert and Corbett state in their book, When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself, you need to Go-Learn-Return…..and then Respond. But approaching the project without prejudice also means to be ready to engage with potential partners without bias as well; they may have insights and be a critical element to your success.
Promotion; communicating with your church body by giving them a brief, but regular update on progress and more importantly, the impact it is having on those who Go, not just the number of new believers, as joyful as that is to communicate.
Let me focus on Project Management, for now. Part of the “How “ is identifying and using leadership within your church that maybe currently “unengaged” but have business related skills in “contracting” and project management that sometimes don’t seem that relevant to the work of the church. Oh they may well be used during a Building Campaign to construct infrastructure, but for evangelism and discipleship, not often. Project management is so structured! Yes, but true project management is actually very adaptable and more importantly is designed to deliver a specific measurable objective. In this case the object can be clearly stated as Establishing a Reproducible Church among the ________________ people. It doesn’t specifically speak to “numbers”, but rather the establishment of a body of believers within a people group that has the capability to grow and reproduce.
When the church has this very clear, very specific goal and appropriate leadership it can accomplish great things. Tap into the skills within your church body and begin the journey to do whatever it takes, with whoever is required and with the guidance of God, to deliver on this goal.
Randy H. – UUPG Project Manager
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