Ralph Winter’s “Problem- Solving” Database

ralph_winterThe following is excerpted from Dr. Ralph D. Winter’s (RDW’s) “Problem- Solving” database. Included here are his comments on 3 problems (out of 28 in the database), which he sought to address over the past forty years.




The Case of the Bypassed Peoples
Date Conceived: 1974

The Problem: The need for an awareness of bypassed subgroups on the mission field.

RDW’s notes: This is the classic unreached peoples need and is probably one of the most communicable problems to face. Almost every mission agency now is attuned to different people groups, not just countries or languages. So much has been made of the identification of the problem that the problem itself has almost completely disappeared. It is also true that headway has been made in reaching out to these groups and we now know that the residual unengaged groups, are almost all smaller peoples. The breakthrough to these groups is still difficult, whether large or small, and still needs to be done.

Global Strategic Collaboration
Date Conceived: 1975

The Problem: The need for a global-level association of mission agencies, and the organizing of a 2010 meeting at the 100th anniversary of 1910. RDW’s notes: Today, more than ever, although clear back in 1980, an ongoing global-level association of mission agencies was proposed, but it was not effectively led. The leader dropped out without telling anyone as a result of his agency requiring him to do so. More recently, the Global Network of Mission Structures (GNMS) has been formed and is now trying to do that job. The job is that of tracing migratory peoples around the world so that when you talk about Turkmen, for example, you will find only about half of them in Turkmenistan and the rest in 13 other countries. We need to know where these people are. There has been no one agency, national or regional, that can track peoples on the move on a global level—call them “Global Peoples.”

This is one of the primary reasons for the GNMS. Another reason is to be able to compare notes with each other and to know and learn from what others are doing. The GNMS would include meetings of all the leaders of regional and national groups, as well as mission agencies on the global level. This will be a very strategic organization. Finally, there is an urgent need to organize a 2010 global meeting commemorating the 1910 meeting, and the 1980 meeting, focusing on the frontiers and gathering agency leaders from around the world, especially from non-Western countries.

Ethnic data Gathering
Date Conceived: 1975

The Problem: The need for strategic study of the ethnic realities of the entire globe in order to understand more objectively and statistically where the most crucial needs are. RDW’s notes: This is what we would call a strategy concern, not mobilization. We can be very proud of the fact that Joshua Project     is very extensively into that sphere, but Joshua Project     is not the only answer to that problem. It seems necessary for mission agencies especially to know that, and the hope is that churches would not decide on a group to go to without working through a mission agency. Thus, one of the problems in solving the problem is that we could easily give people the wrong idea. 

From Mission Frontiers May–August 2009