Did you know there are 6,000 unreached people groups, numbering nearly 3 billion souls? And by unreached, I don’t mean your neighbor across the street that hasn’t heard a clear gospel presentation, but could if you would cross the street. I’m talking about people who couldn’t find a Christian if they tried. I’m talking about people groups that have no witness of Christ at all, because there is no witnessing church. So how do we do it?
“How do we reduce the number of peoples sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death?”
The reality is that many churches have replaced vision for reaching the nations with a series of unrelated projects often failing to capture people’s hearts, minds and imaginations. Many have thought, “The more missionaries we can support, the more countries they work in, the better our missions efforts will be.”
Have you ever seen a world map in the foyer of a church with a pin representing each supported missionary? Though the intent of this effort is commendable, these churches and missions leaders are beginning to realize that
“There is massive disconnect between the 150 missionary units supported and the members of the church.”
The good news is that many of these churches are making a shift and have now developed a clear, focused, heart grabbing, Christ-centered missions vision that is rallying her members to grab hold of God’s Global Mission in a new way. What happened?
These churches have discovered five keys to building an effective missions effort for today.
1. Reduce Us To Our Proper Size: To Become More We Must Become Less.
In chapter 6 of Isaiah, the prophet had a crisis of encounter that reduced him to his proper size. The weightiness of God’s holiness closed in on Isaiah — this would change everything.
If God would use us to REDUCe the number of people groups without the Gospel – then we must feel His weightiness, we must get reduced to our proper size.
2. Reduce Your Definition of Missions – To Reach the Unreached Our Definition of Missions Must Include Less.
Today in many churches, missions has come to include many ministries that are within our own community and culture and are often social or economic in nature. The broadening definition of missions has inevitably led to a philosophy that says that every follower of Christ is a missionary.
Is this Biblical? Is this helpful? Does this lead to more missions work being accomplished or less?
3. Reduce Your Missions Vision – To Accomplish More We Must Attempt Less.
Responding to opportunities as they come up might seem right at first, but the end result will be a shotgun-like effect to which our people will be less and less able to meaningfully engage.
These are the central questions we should be asking, What does it mean to complete God’s purpose among all nations? What strategic opportunities remain? In which ones is God calling our church to be his channel of blessing? That is where we should focus.
4. Reduce the Time – To Plant More Churches We Must Simplify Our Strategies.
Planting churches among unreached peoples is of course a complex process, that is why we should focus on the essential building blocks of church planting that we find in Scripture.
Sometimes we spend too much effort and too many resources on things that are actually unnecessary and even harmful. So what are the foundational spiritual building blocks of church planting?
5. Reduce the Size of Your Barns – To Increase Our Inheritance We Must Accumulate Less.
This is counterintuitive but the less we accumulate and the more we give, the greater our heavenly inheritance will be – not only that, reaching the remaining unreached peoples will be costly on many levels, but the spiritual ROI will be massive.
Our inheritance in heaven is rising – invest everything into the fulfillment of God’s Global Mission!
What about your church? How could you reduce for greater Kingdom impact? How could your church deploy focused, comprehensive strategies to,
“Shine forth the light of Christ among hidden, forgotten and marginalized peoples around the world?”
As missions leaders and mission teams who want to move from a supportive role to an active role in world missions we must no longer be content to simply respond to funding requests but work to be more strategic, as we release the time, talent and treasure through the local Church to Count for Zero!
Matthew Ellison is President of Sixteen: Fifteen and Church Missions Coach. Sixteen: Fifteen exists to help local churches discover and use their unique gifts in partnership with others to make Christ known among all nations. Find out more at www.1615.org or by the next Reduce Conference. REDUCe is a free one-day conference led by missions and church leaders, that unpacks these five keys for church leaders.
by Matthew Ellison