This was a masterful way of both stating the goal while keeping the rallying point somewhat flexible. The problem was that most workers rarely stopped to think deeply about either the goal or what was required to reach it. Similar to how we give a cursory glance at scripture and think we understand it, many just gave a cursory glance at the goal and thought we understood it by our “first impression.”
If we are going to finish the Great Commission, churches will indeed be a natural part of the process. A congregation in which believers fellowship together is a key part of Christian life. At the same time, we also want to be careful that when we say “church” we do not carry our own baggage with us. It might be better to say “a fellowship for every people” or some other phrase that makes us really think about what we mean. However, we are going to need more than just a church for every people if we are to effectively share the gospel with those around the world. Here are seven additional things that are needed:
1. A prayer for every people. Prayer is the foundation for mission. Yet we lack organized prayer for most of the least reached peoples. We have global prayer strategies such as Operation World, Praying through the Window, Ethne's Global Prayer campaign and so forth, but each people group needs a small, globalized core of consistent intercessors praying that God would raise up workers and resources. Additionally, those who pray for specific people groups are more likely to become involved in specific ways.
2. A strategy coordinator for every people. The term may be somewhat dated, and the role may today be filled more by a network than a single individual person, yet the fact remains that we need to have at least one point person for each unreached people group. This person would be someone who is passionate about the people group and is actively seeking ways to bring the blessing of the good news to this group.
3. A gateway for every people. There is a “route” to every people group: a path that can be walked. Perhaps it is another people group, a city or an industry. Some good work has already been done in the past (i.e. Praying through the Window II: Gateway Cities), but these initiatives focused on larger urban areas. We need to do more to identify specific gateway peoples and cities for each unreached people group.
4. A preacher for every people. Many groups, even to this day, have little or no gospel proclamation amongst them. In the past three issues of Mission Frontiers, different research teams have printed their list of “priority peoples.” Many of these have no one among them proclaiming the good news. This is substantially different from peoples in, say, Latin America or Europe, who have a significant amount of proclamation effort. One thing we need to remember is that although the preacher has to cross cultural boundaries, he or she does not necessarily need to come from the West. More on this in a moment.
5. A business for every people. The unreached peoples of the world are among the poorest of the poor. By helping establish businesses we make it possible for a newly reached group to improve their quality of life, sustain local churches and reach out in turn to other cultures nearby. Helping groups develop economic resources can lead to the proclamation of the gospel.
6. A school for every people. Teaching new believers about their missionary responsibility will lead to the formation of new mission agencies and the deployment of new workers. I have recently learned of several small, quick schools for believers and leaders that specifically mobilize workers who will focus on unreached peoples. For five thousand unreached peoples, perhaps we need five thousand such schools.
7. A mission for every people. The final goal is for each people group, as it is reached, to join in the task. This will open up new resources and spread the remaining task among more workers. At this stage we see new intercessors, researchers, preachers, church planters, business-savvy individuals and teachers for every people.
It is at this point that a “circle” has been completed and the people group joins the rest of the family of God in bringing the good news to those who have not yet heard it. Through this kind of multiplication it is possible to see the Great Commission completed. We must ask ourselves if it is possible that the Great Commission will be fully obeyed if we do not complete this circle. We cannot simply leave the task of missions to one or two parts of the world; we must become family in this task of missions.