Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Hello. Thanks for listening in. This is episode 64 of Missions on Point. We are in the middle of a series on The VISION of a Sending Church, and we're using vision as an acronym to describe the teaching sections of Propempo's training for church leaders and church mobilizers on how to develop a sending church. The V is for values, I is for identity, S is for strategy, I is for implementation, O is for ownership, and N is for nurturing. I trust that you'll stay with us through this series and learn and enable your church leaders to have a greater vision for becoming a sound biblical sending church. You'll notice that through the process we start with the church leaders. The church leaders are essential for framing the values and the understanding of biblical strategic effective missions for the church.

The leaders are the first major component. But then it moves to identity. That is understanding your church. Strategy is understanding missions opportunities. The implementation part has to do with choosing missionary candidates from your church and training and equipping them properly for long-term service in the field. The ownership part is equipping your church for the sender's role. How can we best be senders to those that are preparing to be sent? And lastly, is caring for those sent. How your church and your people care for those sent out from your congregation. Now, a little disclaimer as we begin today. This vision process usually is taught over a two-day period with lots of questions and answers, and the podcast doesn't allow us to do that. So we're taking each of the six steps of the process and trying to condense all that into just this 15 minute Missions on Point episode.

So this episode is identity, and the two steps we'll deal with here are discovery and design. Our first question is discover what? Well discover the identity of your church. It may mean that you do a little digging to research what is the history of your church with regard to missions particularly and how your church was formed and what vision the earlier leaders of the church may have had about missions. Part of that is discovering how you got where you are today in terms of your mission's commitments, the missionaries and or projects or agencies, ministries that you support.

In this step on identity, and the next one in strategy, we're moving towards identifying our church's particular strategic focus toward fulfilling the great commission. And that focus could be an unreached people group. It could be a specific type of ministry, it might be a project, but certainly it means that rather than have a shotgun approach to spreading ourselves and our commitments all over the world map, in order to do a little bit of everything, we're going to be much more focused into identifying what are those factors and relationships that drive us to be more deeply involved in the work of that particular ministry. If possible, we want to identify a particular niche with regard to our church's involvement in the Great Commission.

We can't do it all and we have to say no to a lot of good things in order to say yes to the best things. Another step in this discovery process is to simply know your congregation well. You may literally survey your congregation to find out what kinds of missions, connections or cross-cultural connections do they have. What is their home language or the home language of their parents? Do businessmen in your congregation have frequent trips to a particular foreign country or even a field where they may have contacts and relationships that could be developed? You're trying to identify natural bridges of connections that the church presently has with the future strategic focus of the church. Knowing your church well means that you understand how your congregation is comprised of people from different backgrounds, different skills, different interests, used in world missions.

Are they predominantly blue collar workers? Do they have a specific skillset as a group that could be used in a special way? Are they management level people? Are they professionals in some sense? What are the skills, interests, and occupations of the people that comprise the congregation? Similarly, even for the pastors, what kind of connections have you had over the years, perhaps with other ministries that lead toward a strategic focus? We're trying to find those bridges of relationship and demography that link our church with a special focus on field ministry out there.

Another point of research is simply to find out where the church is and what kind of demographics are around your church. Are there cross-cultural opportunities nearby to the church or in the metroplex nearest to you where there may be settlements of immigrants or refugees or a lot of university students that are from overseas, places that you could touch and reach easily locally that would be a stepping stone toward that bridge of connection with an unreached people group or a strategic focus on the field.

Take time to ask your present missionaries are they connected with a particular strategic field out there that is still unreached, not an institutional ministry per se, but one that touches on the next step of reaching places that have not yet been reached with the gospel or with church planting. I remember walking through this process with a particular church in northeast Tennessee and they discovered that one third of their congregation was employed in the medical industry in some way, so it was a natural thing for them to focus on medical related ministry toward pushing to those pioneering areas. One of the ways you can test how your church is doing in a wide range of missions areas, is simply go to the website and take the online church missions profile that helps you assess your missions' effectiveness in 12 different areas of missions ministry in the local church.

This idea of a survey has been used by a number of churches that we've helped to bring to light information that they didn't even know about how wired their congregation was with cross-cultural ministry already. When our own church did a survey of the missionaries that we support, we arrived at the conclusion after discussion and prayer, that there was a natural stepping stone to an unreached area of the world that we could commit to that we would not have thought of previously.

I remember helping another church in North Carolina that couldn't really decide they were a large church and had a lot of missions interest, and they decided to choose unreached people groups from each of three major contexts in the far East, in the Buddhist world, in the Muslim world, each on a three-year rotation of emphasis over the course of 10 years. It was an enormous blessing to see how God used that in the church family to inform them of the needs for the gospel around the world, but then their congregation became personally involved with sending their own people out to help meet those needs.

There are two resources I would recommend in the process. One is a book called Your Focus on the World by Catalyst Services. You can find it on the web. Another one is a well-known book called When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert, and this book has been used to really help churches, short-term teams and long-term missionaries, discern when it is appropriate to give particular aid and help and when it is best to source that from the community itself on the field. The next step in identity is taking all this information from the discovery process, which could take some time in your church to focusing into a design for utilizing and crossing those bridges to actually get to the unreached people groups that you may focus on. Of course, we're going to use guiding principles, those values we talked about earlier, to provide the framework within which we will think and pray and design the desired future or the goal for our new missions focus.

You'll use the building blocks within your congregation and apply common sense, just what is really feasible and what is not. Take time with your leaders and those interested in missions to define the process and the possibilities and the relationships that will result in that accepted vision and goal for your church missions. Keep in mind the general unreached people group stats. That is, there's about 12,000 people groups in the whole world. Many of the major people groups have already been reached. There are 6,000 approximately unreached people groups. That means that they don't have enough evangelical Christians within their group to be able to evangelize their own people. But within the 6,000, half of those, 3,000 of them are what we call unengaged, unreached people groups. They are groups that have no known resident witness for Christ, and humanly speaking will not be reached without someone going to live among them, learn their language and proclaim the gospel and plant churches among the new believers there.

Throughout this process, it is both wise and expedient for you to ask all those involved, including your missionaries on the field, to pray for your church and your church leaders who are thinking through the decisions related to this process. You want them to be on board and you want the Lord to give you particular wisdom and discernment as you walk through this process, which will then guide the church's missions efforts for years to come. You may have some people who object and say, "Should we be sending so much money overseas when there are people here that still need to be saved?" And that's true, but in general, the people of the congregation are mobilized to reach their neighbors, their friends, their fellow students, their coworkers for Christ with few dollars and just a little bit of equipping. Whereas, to reach an unreached people group, often takes a lot of funding and a lot of equipping for very few people to do.

It's not a one-to-one or 50-50 proposition. The farther you get away in cultural distance, the harder it is to reach them with the Gospel of Christ. The end point of this design step and identity blends in with the research side of strategy, which is coming in the next episode. So we begin to see how the information moves us from information on the paper, so to speak, or on our screen, to action and movement of real people. It is very exciting and gratifying for me to guide churches in this process and see the light bulbs go on for, wow, we could actually do this. Wow. God has placed in our hands the resources, the people, the connections, the bridges to be able to actually make a difference in fulfillment of the great commission, and we want to own that. And as the process moves forward into design, the congregation and the missionaries involved begin to get excited to see what God is going to do in the days to come.

So take your time, do a good job on the discovery part and the design. Learn your church's identity well so that when you move forward, you're confident that God has not only given you the values, framing what you're going to do and how you're going to do it, but you understand that God has actually chosen you and will use you and your church to accomplish those goals.

May it be so. It would bring joy to my heart to hear from you that you are beginning to grasp these concepts and implement them in your church. You can just write me at Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website,

Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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