We cannot emphasize the importance of prayer through the process enough! Solidarity, unity, and commitment is built slowly and surely by a consistent pattern of prayer: praying together, praying corporately, praying as leaders, praying as a strategic focus research or task force or survey team.
The steps suggested here do not have to be accomplished in exact sequential order. Some can be accomplished simultaneously with others. The order may be changed in order to be more appropriate or more logical for your situation.
1. Survey your congregation
- find out what cross-cultural connections and relationships they have
- find out if they have professional skills or relationships that might come touch the direction of a strategic focus
- ask if they have any involvements, activities, knowledge, or experience that might add fuel in a particular direction
2. Survey your present missionary or mission agency relationships
- where do you presently support missionaries or projects? are those close to known unreached people groups or other strategic needs?
- find out if there is already a specific strategic vision or direction
- find out if there is a personal vision to be involved in a specific unreached people group
- ask if they have suggestions for your church's decision
3. Survey the data:
- research and educate your decisions makers and/or focus task-force about unreached people groups, world needs, strategic missions areas needing staffing or resources
- pray through Operation World data, Joshua Project Data, etc.
- look at up-to-date demographic information (CIA World Factbook)
- learn about creative access, Business As Missions, tentmaking platforms, etc.
4. Survey your community:
- is your city a sister-city in some strategic region of the world?
- from what country or region are there significant business interests in your area?
- are there significant business, immigrant, refugee, student populations from key strategic unreached areas near you?
- are there already community service or outreach programs (TESL, immigrant services, etc.) for those related to unreached people and through which your church can become involved?
- what is the demographic composition of your community? does that have any bearing on your alternatives for a strategic focus?
- does your metro area airport serve one part of the world more than others?
5. Seek to discover bridges from all this data to your choices for strategic focus:
- see if there is a pattern emerging from all the research and data
- take it to the next level by making specific inquiries for more information
- attend a ministry conference or strategic fellowship meeting of workers or national church leaders from that area to ask more questions about needs
- map your findings on a real map
- put together visual representations of your findings; sometimes making a graph or chart helps everyone see the connections or data more clearly and intuitively
6. Plan a survey trip:
- allow for one or more trusted church leaders and/or strategic focus research/task- force members to visit one or more of your “finalists”
- ask questions, take pictures, talk to nationals, find out about the political, social, religious, economic, physical climate and living conditions
- try to imagine yourself (those doing the survey) what it would take to get there, to live there
- find out what are the language, culture, logistical, and living condition requirements for long-term ministry there
- prepare a report with an executive overview and recommendations as well as documented details for the decision-makers
7. Prayerfully select, promote, and disseminate your decision