As we pursue the task of world evangelization, we must identify the major priorities that will be integral to ensuring that all the peoples of the world will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, in their “heart” language, near where they live, with access to a healthy, indigenous church to help them grow in faith.
The Lausanne Strategy Working Group (SWG) meets twice a year to gather and process research and seek God’s will as to what priorities should be at the top of the church’s agenda if we are to see disciples made in all nations. Like the men of Issachar in the Old Testament, we seek to know the times and to provide strategic leadership for the people of God.
The SWG has identified 14 major priorities for the church in the early 21st century. As you read these priorities, please consider how you, as a younger leader, will address them? Which objectives are close to your heart?
1. To work toward the planting of churches in every remaining people group as we seek to evangelize and make disciples. There are 639 groups over 100,000 in size—totaling 550 million people—that have virtually no access to the gospel. Some have no churches, no believers, no scripture and nobody trying to reach them.
2. To accelerate the launching of church-planting movements in the 10/40 Window and other needy areas, in order to give closer geographical opportunity for discipleship, worship, and continuing evangelism. We need to find out where the church is not, and make a plan to go there. For the poorer areas of the world, the church must be within walking distance.
3. To mobilize significant, strategic, focused prayer for the unfinished task of the Great Commission, and ask the Lord to send more workers into his harvest field. When we search for the strategies of Jesus in how to go about proclaiming His message to the whole world, we get these words from Matthew 9:38 “Pray the Lord of the Harvest…”
4. To work together more intentionally and inclusively through alliances, networks, and partnerships—sharing contacts, information, and resources. We do this to demonstrate the unity with one another spoken of in John 17:23 that give evidence of the deity of Christ and show His love for the world.
5. To empower and provide training in evangelism, discipleship and church-planting for lay men and women and younger leaders. The day of the professional clergy only, is passing. Most of the next 5 million churches that will be planted will be in homes, led by lay leaders. We must prioritize equipping these lay leaders for their role.
6. To encourage extensive and innovative initiatives to reach and disciple children and young people in each generation. Most people come to Christ before the age of 13. Yet, we spend most of our money in our churches to reach adults.
7. To allocate a much larger portion of our resources to the least-reached areas of the world. As churches, mission organizations and individuals, we continue to give most of our money and send most of our new missionaries to the places that are already being reached.
8. To use media, technology and other creative means to more effectively spread the gospel among the masses. Over 100 million people go to My Space and My Tube on the internet everyday. Eight billion dollars in video games are purchased every year.
9. To stay personally involved in grassroots evangelism so that we are obedient to our calling, and so that our presentation of the biblical gospel is relevant, contextualized and meaningful. Regardless of our gifting, Paul reminds Timothy to “preach the word” in season and out.
10. To live out the gospel as we seek to meet the physical and social needs of those to whom we minister with practical expressions of love and compassion. There are many great churches and organizations demonstrating the love of Christ in some of the toughest places in the world. However, we as believers need to be much more intentional in finding out and meeting the needs of those in our own neighborhood so that every person knows someone who truly follows Christ.
11. To assist in the work of scripture translation and distribution, recognizing its necessity as a foundation for all evangelism and church growth. There are hundreds of people groups who do not have one verse of scripture. This translation task doesn’t belong to Wycliffe Bible translators alone. It is the responsibility of the whole Church. It has been two thousand years since Jesus told us to take the gospel everywhere. How long will we wait until we are obedient to go everywhere and to every person?
12. To ensure that all of our strategic plans of evangelism are biblically based and guided by the fourfold scope of Acts 1:8 and include “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.” Whether it is a local church or a worldwide organization, the strategy and command applies to every minister of the gospel. In fact, there would be no undetached people groups if every country reached its “Samaritans.” However, the resources fir evangelism and discipleship are not equally divided, so we need to help each other—just like a body.
13. To ensure a greater emphasis on reaching the “oral learners” of our world. Two-thirds of our world prefers to learn through stories, music and examples—much like we learned before we went to school. They are not interested in getting their teaching by way of five steps and three principles. Jesus taught primarily by means of stories. The world is reading less and less. Those who can read prefer to get their information by media. We need to evaluate all of our materials and discipleship strategies in the years ahead. Short-film strategies and personal stories may be the wave of the future.
14. To be willing to change our strategies, locations, methodologies, materials, etc. to reach those who haven’t heard. The surest thing happening in our society today is change. Long-established traditions, brands of products, etc. vanish daily because they are irrelevant. No matter how much is known about the peoples and areas who haven’t been touched with the gospel, we tend to spend most of our effort and money where we already are. We need more pioneers, mold-breakers and kind-hearted rebels who will make the changes necessary—and do it now!