Tag Archives: Unreached People Groups

A Three Stranded Cord

Yesterday I met with a few guys that I meet with regularly to stir up vision, maintain some accountability, and simply dream together. When we get together we usually talk about how we can serve our Lord faithfully and help the body of Christ here in our region of Hampton Roads Virginia become focused on the unreached, make disciples and be more missional in house/simple churches. Our conversation yesterday focused on the combination of three major aspects of what the Lord is speaking to his Church around the world.

They are:

  • Having a simple, organic church life.
  • Focusing on unreached people groups in mission – being pioneers in mission.
  • The 24/7 prayer movement – becoming a people of prayer seeing the house churches equipped to become houses of prayer.

What we discovered as we talked about this these three aspects of the revolution within the church is that we need to be sure that we steer away from the institutional traps and hierarchal bondage, hype and turning the work of the Kingdom into a business plan, self-serving ambition and wanting to “plant our flag”. It seems that these three threads of the Lord’s leading could become a “three-stranded cord” that will facilitate the making of disciples as never before. What do you think?

Another observation from yesterday and our regular meeting every week is that we need to meet together with a few good brothers or sisters in Christ and allow the” iron to sharpen iron” in order to keep us in check. It is so easy to fall back into the patterns of the old carnal life as well as the religious life of Christendom. We need each other to be sure our steps are “ordered by the Lord and that he would delight in our ways.”(Psalm 37:23) So, here is another three stranded cord, a “band of brothers” or as Neil Cole calls them “Life Transformation Groups.” The Word says that a three stranded cord is not quickly broken! (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

If you do not have a few fellow servants of the Lord to hang out with and be honest with your struggles and your ambitions, your ability to walk in integrity will be hindered. As the Lord leads you to make disciples of all nations – be sure that you are being discipled as well. You are never so mature that you don’t need someone provoke you to do the will of the Lord.

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A Shift in Definition of Unreached People Groups?

Do we need a new definition for the people groups that are unreached? Has this term been so misused that it must be redefined? Should the shift in our understanding of church, ecclesiology and mission reflect in this definition, not to mention our actual practice when reaching the unreached?

Here is the classic definition that many as well as I have been using: “An unreached people group is a people group or ethnic group, within which there is no viable indigenous church or churches with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches.”

Here is my proposed new definition –

“An unreached people group (nation/ethnos) is any people group where there are no followers of Jesus who are making disciples within their own people group.”

I think it is time to change this definition. My reasons for this is that this new definition:

  • Kingdom of God Focused. It will deter those who are doing missions in order to promote Christianity or their brand of Christianity rather than relationship and submission to Jesus Christ as king. There are several attempts of large denominational missions organizational to define the unreached as being those who are not aligned with them theologically, organizationally or historically (see the example discussed here – http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/when-the-reached-are-unreached). In reference to my own experience, I was serving with a large church in an Asian nation several years ago which was made up of a major ethnic group within that nation. At the time this ethnic group was listed as unreached by a large missions organization. After corresponding with them, it was concluded that this ethnic group was on the list because there were no churches of their “brand” among them. This was arrogant and sectarian at least. As this error continues, it justifiably brings the unreached people group strategy to question. Possibly an adjustment to the definition of unreached will deter this self-gratifying strategy of building one’s own kingdom within a people group will be exposed and possibly thwarted.
  • Acknowledging all followers of Jesus. Many are ignoring the huge numbers of followers of Jesus that have chosen not to align themselves with historic or organized Christianity, evangelicalism or denominational organizations. This definition will include them in the body of Christ, though separate from organized Christendom.
  • Focuses on making disciples. This new definition emphasizes the mandate from our Lord to make disciples rather than plant churches. Nowhere in scripture are we commanded to plant churches, but to make disciples. Jesus builds his church – and he can do it without the help of human organizations. Simply, when disciples of Jesus are being made, church happens! The beauty is when it does happen, Jesus is the head, and the community of believers continue on the context of their culture rather than becoming an oddity or foreign.
  • A simple, organic definition. This new definition is based upon the organic and simple multiplication of disciples through the means of relationships. This will focus reaching the unreached on knowing Jesus rather than militaristic strategies, marketing schemes, or tactics to convert from one religion to another (rather than relationship with Jesus). There will be little chance of misunderstanding the intention of the gospel messenger that many times sees them as a foreign threat that may bring colonialism, foreign religion, cultural destruction or worse, but plainly introducing the simple gospel of the Kingdom of Christ by lifestyle and dialogue.

After walking through a huge paradigm shift in my own life and way of thinking I have grown more and more uncomfortable with the definition (see above) for the unreached peoples and other similar versions.

Now I am not naive to the point that I think the “big guns” will immediately change their definition of the unreached. This would mean that their strategies will be reexamined, their methodologies will be in question and the “main thing” will be changed from planting churches to making disciples.  But I do hope that as I change my vocabulary to match what I strongly feel the Lord is saying to his people in these times, it will bring greater clarity and mission in my own life.

What do you think?

Simple Churches Doing Missions Part 2 – Keeping Missions Simple

In my previous post I discussed a very involved process regarding doing missions, specifically when reaching into the least reached regions, among the unreached peoples that still need to know about Jesus. After posting it I realized that “man, that’s not very simple is it!” (Thanks to a few comments from some folks.) But really it is. Here are a few ways we can keep missions simple;

1.       Only do what you see the Lord doing. The process takes time (the chart in my last post could take 5-20 years to accomplish reaching a people group). So go slow and listen to the Lord as you go doing what He is doing and not being driven by a program or plan.

2.       Network with other simple churches. It’s not all your or your house church’s responsibility to know and do everything. This is why we need to network.  It may be that your house church may take on just one element of long list of what would need to be done.

3.       Take personal responsibility. Simple churches are fluid. They may meet together for a short period of time or for years. Take what the Lord has revealed to you to accomplish with you wherever you go. Be a champion for reaching that unreached, least reached people group.

4.       It’s not our work; it’s the King’s work. Continually remind yourself that it is the Lord’s work. There is a delicate balance between being sensitive to the Lord’s leading, carefully following Him, and taking the “bull by the horns” and making it happen. It boils down to obedience, not ambition or strategies.

This may not be exhaustive – if I continue with the list, it starts to get too complicated.

We need to know what we are doing, and the scope of the “big picture”, but we also must keep it simple.

A Plan – (in process)

Over the past few months Steve Lyzenga and myself have been brainstorming regarding what House2Harvest Network will look like. This blog is adding to that discussion, and of course the round table discussion after the close of the 2008 House Church Conference in Dallas, TX will provide further discussion and hopefully implementation.

Here is what we have written up so far:

House2Harvest Network

Ideas / Notes / Concepts

Edited 7/10/08

[The following description is a work in progress. It is here that we have merely written some of our ideas, dreams and brainstorming results. House2Harvest Network will begin to take shape during the “roundtable” discussion held after the close of the 2008 National House Church Conference in Dallas, TX on August 31, 2008. Here is what we have come up with so far.]

House2Harvest Network – an equipping/serving ministry – a prophetic voice to the Body of Christ regarding facilitating the end time harvest.

House2Harvest will serve the thousands of simple (house, emerging, post-modern churches and the like) churches by helping them become a part of a major mission movement focusing primarily on reaching the unreached, the marginalized, the poor, and the development of strategic missions both locally and internationally.

We desire to help Simple/house churches and networks do the following:

a. Be mobilized to the least reached ethnic groups (nations), the marginalized, and the poor sending apostolic teams to make disciples among them.

b. Provide training to those who are called to minister cross culturally.

c. Develop a plan to send teams to the least reached, the marginalized and the poor.

d. Establish their own sending council or missions organization (via their regional house church network) so that they can effectively and strategically send apostolic workers to the frontiers (i.e. Strategic Church Network – http://www.strategicchurchnetwork.org).

House2Harvest will provide training, consultation and resources to facilitate mobilization, deployment and engagement to the unreached as well as wisely engaging in ministry to widows and orphans and the poorest of the poor.

Focus:

  • Acts 1:8. In areas where foundations have never been laid (the unreached) as well as targeting the marginalized poor (such as refugees, widows and orphans). This will be done via sending apostolic teams and partnering with already sent apostolic teams.

Values & Ideas (in no particular order):

  • Never separate training from doing. Our philosophy of training needs to be “doing” based rather than just knowledge based. When we do trainings, it must involve real ministry and missions.

Examples:

Short term trip

House churches set up exclusively for training servants to the nations and to reach specific communities, neighborhoods and social groups.

Partnering with viable models that can be used as training points.

Connect what they have learned with a ministry activity or project that allows them to put it into practice in the real world – not contrived exercises.

  • Emphasize the role of the apostolic over the traditional professional missionary.
  • Maintain the network via actual relationships rather than organizational and institutional tools and methods. This network will not only be focused in the USA but in other nations as well.
  • Encourage sending teams rather than individuals. This would also include partnering with already sent teams.
  • We are NOT to be an information monopoly – but work “flat” (starfish principles). Share what we have openly and not for the profit of an organization.
  • Income will come from training, consulting and coaching activities as well as hosting trips. Funding will also be secured from partners and grants.
  • Use different terms to communicate values:

o Instead of Missions – use “Serve the nations”

o Instead of missionary – use “servant to the nations”

o Instead of church planting – use “making disciples”

  • Be willing to develop in areas where models do not exists as well as use of existing models.
  • Hold Conferences – round table style consultations in order to facilitate networking and sharing of ideas, resources, and strategies.
  • Provide Resources, web based, etc.
  • Provide consulting and coaching.
  • Assist in the Process of (this will be an integrated process – not linear):

o Preparing

o Planning

o Partnering

o Placing

o Planting

To Do:

  • Develop a network to connect, to send, to train/do. This will begin at the Roundtable discussion in Dallas (August 31)
  • Find out what House/Simple Church networks we can work with and develop a data base of resource people and networks. (part of Steve’s research)
  • Find out what projects need to be developed.
  • Develop Website and find a talented web designer willing to serve as webhost.

More thoughts:

  • Mobilizing simple churches to:

a. The unreached – the least reached ethnic groups (Matthew 24:14).

b. Strategic mercy ministries such as orphans and widows and the poorest of the poor. Providing counsel to assist the SC to connect with ministries of integrity.

  • Serving house church networks and ministries for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. Thus, keeping a Kingdom of God focus, and not an organizational, network, or ministry focus.
  • Work towards helping ministries/networks become mission, church planting, disciple making movements. This begins at home and will then spread to the areas of the world where Jesus in unknown and the gospel of the Kingdom is not yet preached.
  • The goal will be to stay flat (i.e. starfish, open sourced). Be viral – produce viral tools.
  • Potential Projects:

a. Develop a prayer network that is missions focused.

b. Maintain a list of networking partners (both individuals and missions organizations) who willing to serve to see the least reached nations reached through Simple Church networks.

c. Maintain a list of what people are actually doing who are willing to serve as points for training and learning.

d. Bridge Centers (Forward Operating Bases) in the region of major affinity blocks. (see description below)

e. Develop and maintain a Web Site – Open sourced / equipping and resources. This will also serve as a communication hub taking all security precautions in mind.

f. Training team of cross cultural, apostolic workers that will itinerate to simple church networks to assist them in the cause.

g. Training Houses (M-Pact Houses – Missions Houses – see description below)

BRIDGE CENTERS – FORWARD OPERATING BASES

  • Serve as a bridge/connector between the field and local churches/ministries/missions orgs.
  • Providing:

o Resources

o Research

o Renewals for field workers

o Training

o Exposure opportunities for supporters and potential teams

o Providing a forum and venue for a team of strategic coordinators for a specific affinity block and/or its sub groups.

o Strategic forums for field workers and partners.

  • Local – in a non-threatening location
  • Key Component – Serve
  • Network with local practitioners in the affinity block and their organizations.
  • Network with local businesses and humanitarian/educational organizations to provide opportunities for service.
  • Host Short-Term teams, consultations, seminars, language studies, cultural studies, training initiatives.
  • Relational Connections will make it work.
  • Must be international.
  • Possible locations. Locations will be in strategic location throughout the 10/40 window. The list is not to be publicized for security reasons. There is already a working model in South East Asia.
  • Systems to be developed/administrated:

o Short-Term Teams – Hosting

o Guest House

o Member Care for servants to the nations such as retreats and counseling.

o Language School – UPG languages and trade languages of the region.

o Consultation and partnering events.

o Local Relationships with legacy/institutional/traditional churches, humanitarian organizations, schools and businesses.

o Library and resources for servants to the nations and study groups.

o Strategic Studies (i.e. IIS) and programs.

o Pre-field Orientation School

o Staging base for teams, research and community transformation ministries.

M-PACT Houses

A Mission House Concept: A place to grow, be equipped and change the world!

M=Mission, Pact=A Covenant, A Promise until a certain goal is achieved. – Root Latin Pax = peace. Sounds like impact!

A. Gather together approximately six believers who want to live out a biblical discipleship model as a team in order to:

  1. Grow in Christ
  2. Experience simple/organic church
  3. Make disciples in their neighborhood seeing the Lord build his Church.
  4. Serve as the team leaders for short-term missions trips through House2Harvest.
  5. Prepare for the mission field in the areas of the world that are unreached.

B. Obtain house in needy urban areas to house the teams. These houses will need to be large enough to accommodate 6 singles. We will need a separate house for men, women and couples. The team members will need to be adults who are capable of living on their own.

  • The House will be run by the team. It is the intention that each team member will be treated as an adult and will be expected to make adult decisions together.

o They will write up a covenant agreement among themselves establishing:

· House Rules

· Financial Responsibilities

· Discipleship goals

· Vision and Ministry goals for the neighborhood

· Methods of accountability.

· Training plan for cross cultural ministry

  • The team will meet together regularly as the church (all the “mission houses” in the neighborhood – men, women and couples).
  • The team will be responsible to make disciples throughout the neighborhood using the “Church Planting Movement” strategy and variations thereof seeing churches planted in various homes.
  • The team may also be a part of the core leadership team for the House2Harvest short term mission trips in the USA and around the world.
  • Each team member will hold down at least a part time job or attend college/university. This will be so that:

o The team members develop real-life skills and not be insulated from the integration of life and ministry.

o The team members will not be isolated from real life experience; their training experience will not be an “extraction” experience so that they will not produce disciples themselves via extraction.

o This will provide the financial needs for the house as well as their personal needs.

  • Each team member will be responsible to raise the funds needed for mission trips. This may be done from the house churches which they have planted and other relationships they have developed through the Body of Christ.
  • The team will have a one year commitment to be part of the house. At the end of one year the can choose to remain as part of the team or leave. The other team members will also have voice as to whether a team member remains on the team.

C. The coaching team will be responsible to:

  • Provide guidelines through each of the above activities and processes.
  • Provide training and coaching in the area of doing house church, reaching their neighbors, and cross cultural ministry.
  • Meet regularly with the team members for fellowship, encouragement and mentoring/coaching times.
  • Provide leadership and intervention when needed.

D. The House Churches

  • The team will make disciples thus planting as many house churches as possible.
  • Each team member will facilitate a house church until the attendees of that house church are prepared to grow and multiply without his/her assistance.
  • The goal is that when the Mission House team leaves the area, the gospel continues to be spread throughout that neighborhood/community through the active ministry of each house church that was planted.
  • The house churches planted will follow the basic philosophy of house church and will not be under any denomination or hierarchal entity preserving the priesthood of every believer and allowing the house church to be autonomous.

E. What do we need to begin?

  • Houses to be used to the glory of God in strategic communities.
  • Team candidates that are willing to follow the plan.
  • Funding for set up costs and missional outreach.

M-PACT – “The adventure is out there!” M-PACT –“Whose life is it anyway?”

Well what do you think – let’s talk about it!

Our Role in Finishing the Task (Matthew 24:14)

Our fifth question to discuss is:

What role will the House/Simple Church networks have in fulfilling Matthew 24:14?

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnic groups), and then the end shall come.” (Matt 24:14)

Specifically what do you think house/simple church networks can do to see the unreached nations/ people groups reached? Let’s keep in mind the idea of networks as well as what we can do as it relates to the rest of the Body of Christ.

Share your ideas – thoughts – plans – etc. We are looking forward to more discussion.

Introduction to this Weblog – what’s it all about?

We have established this blog to facilitate discussion leading up to the 2008 National House Church Conference in Dallas, August 28-31, 2008 (www.house2house.com – see Conference information) Missions Track and the Post-Conference roundtable meeting for launching House2Harvest Network/Ministry. I will post several preliminary documents and email correspondences that we have exchanged to rbing everyone up to date. It will continue after the conference to allow for further discussion and collaboration.

Our objectives up to this point are to answer these questions:

  1. Can a house church do missions in some of the most challenging areas of the world?
  2. What area or strategy in missions is best suited for house church networks?
  3. What is God doing now amongst house churches in regards to missions?
  4. What will it take for these HC networks to do missions more effectively and strategically?
  5. What role will the House/Simple Church networks have in fulfilling Matthew 24:14?
  6. How can a house/simple church effectively do missions amongst the unreached and the poor?
  7. How will the house/simple church networks train and send missionaries (apostolic teams) to the field?

Below you will find these questions as categories for us to discuss. If you have other catagories to add, make a comment below and I will add the category.

So far our workshop topics may include the following:

  • #1 – How Can House Churches do Missions?
  • #2 – A Survey of House Churches and Missions.
  • #3 – People Group Strategies – Fulfilling Matthew 24:14.
  • #4 – Regional Networks – An opportunity to meet with others who are working in the same region in which you have an interest.

Remember – this is NOT a one way conversation. Feel free to share your ideas, thoughts and suggestions.

Ok – let’s start the dialogue!

Blessings – Don Davis