This is an article from the November-December 1995 issue: Joshua Project 2000

Joshua Project 2000 Step 3: Researching on Site & Preparing the Way for Church Planting

Joshua Project 2000 Step 3: Researching on Site & Preparing the Way for Church Planting

The Starting Point for Research Teams In envisioning a church for every people, it became evident there was need for agreement on a common "starting point" to see church- planting movements move toward reality. In answer to that need, an integrated list of approximately 2,000 significant peoples has been compiled and targeted as that point of departure. John Robb, coordinator of the AD2000 and Beyond Unreached Peoples Network feels this list will be a useful tool in advancing world evangelism:

Thanks to the combined effort of Ron Rowland, John Gilbert and Patrick Johnstone, we now have a list of approximately 2,000 peoples which will be the focus of the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement and its goal of a church for every people by the year 2000. The majority of these peoples are less than two percent Christian, making them the most worthy candidates for pioneer cross-cultural efforts and the establishment of churches and other ministries. These peoples are significantly large, that is, with a population of 10,000 or more. Denominations, churches, and mission agencies can confidently utilize this list for the adoption of the neediest unreached peoples and focused prayer efforts. In consultation with national Christian leaders, the list will be used for Joshua Project's on-site survey. This is not a definitive list, but is the best we have to this point. Two thousand peoples by the year 2000 is not an unrealistic goal if God's people will unite their efforts in prayer and mission activity.

On-site Research Teams and Their Training On-site surveying or research gathering within these peoples is a first step toward church planting goals. Short-term teams raised up in local churches and longer-term teams affiliated with mission agencies will journey to gather such data on site. Information survey forms from participating teams will be returned to the AD 2000 office in Colorado Springs for distribution. John Gilbert, of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board Integrated Strategic Planning Database in Virginia, will process the research data. It will then be forwarded to Bethany World Prayer Center in Louisiana where people prayer profiles will be produced for use in the "Praying Through the Window III" project in 1997. (See Mission Frontiers, September - October, 1995, pp. 10-13, for more on profile production at Bethany World Prayer Center.) The goal of these efforts on the part of so many is to see each people adopted by local churches. Adoption implies offering concerted prayer on the people's behalf, considering the sending of a prayer/research team to visit them and, most importantly, committing to assisting establishment of a pioneer church- planting team within this people.

Caleb Resources in Littleton, Colorado, is working with AD2000 and Beyond to produce a layman's training manual specifically for Joshua Project 2000. Live training sessions to accompany the manual are also being planned, utilizing trainers from several mission agencies. Greg Fritz of Caleb Resources comments on the necessity of preparing teams well for research gathering:

Joshua Project 2000 Training Resources As God raises up churches to field Joshua Project 2000 teams, various kinds of training and resources will be required to release the teams' full potential. Caleb Resources has been asked to help develop the materials and plans that will meet these needs. For eight years Caleb Resources has been actively learning from their mistakes as they have launched a variety of teams to cities throughout the 10/40 Window.

Caleb Resources began their cross-cultural forays with intensive short- term research projects. These teams broke ground for other types of strategic exposure, including Church Leadership Expeditions and prayer journeys. Next summer Caleb Resources will launch a new 10/40 Window exposure ministry called Explore Teams, designed specifically to develop on-site mobilization materials for unreached cities.

Many of the lessons learned from the scores of groups Caleb Resources has taken overseas have been compiled in a number of written resources. Particularly helpful to Joshua Project 2000 teams, however, is a training manual being developed specifically with church or lay teams in mind, tentatively entitled Lifechanging Encounters: A Preparation Guide for Joshua Project 2000 Teams.

Designed as the standard "how-to" for upcoming Joshua Project 2000 teams, Lifechanging Encounters will lay out a framework for planning, executing and debriefing an effective research team. Lifechanging Encounters begins by describing the philosophical foundation for Joshua Project 2000 teams. It goes on to honestly address the practical realities faced when launching such teams. Preparation issues such as team recruiting and selection, support raising and training are addressed.

The manual then explains how to actually conduct short-term research in a 10/40 Window city, who and what to ask, and how to compile the information that will be required for each team to form people profiles.

Lifechanging Encounters finishes with information which will help leaders debrief team members so that lives are actually changed. A thorough appendix provides a planning checklist, sample team member applications and twelve ways churches can be involved in the 10/40 Window beyond their Joshua Project 2000 research team experience.

While providing answers to many of the questions a Joshua Project 2000 team will face, Lifechanging Encounters also directs readers to additional resources they may need for a successful team experience.

Caleb Resources Trainers Having sent out dozens of teams with similar purposes to Joshua Project 2000, Caleb Resources staff are available to equip specific teams who recognize a need for personal training. Week-end to week- long programs can be customized for a single church or clusters of churches. Caleb Resources staff can interpret the material described above, as well as add their own personal experience and vision to ready a team for the challenge God has placed before them.

Preparing the Way for Church Planting Several AD 2000 and Beyond Networks and Task Forces have merged their efforts toward church- planting movements with Joshua Project 2000 objectives.

God's Word and Literature Network Dick Eastman of Every Home for Christ reaffirms his ministry's intent to visit every home among a people, particularly the nearly 2,000 peoples targeted by Joshua Project 2000:

When Jesus told His disciples that the culmination of His plan to return to earth and establish His Kingdom required that "the gospel of the Kingdom" be preached or "proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations"(Matt. 24:14), He used some interesting words that speak of the totality or scope of the ultimate communication of the Good News globally.

At a glance, the phrase "all the world" seems to speak for itself, but a closer examination of the Greek word translated "world" in this passage (Oikumene) adds a potentially much greater understanding of what Jesus might well have meant by employing this word in Matt. 24:14.

Oikumene, usually translated simply "inhabited world," comes from the Greek word Oikos, meaning dwelling or family home.

It is interesting to note that the only fully accurate way to measure that the gospel has gone "reasonably" to every person of a nation or an unreached people group is to go exactly where the people live, systematically, to each dwelling (oikos) while keeping an exact record of where you are going and where you have been.

Writing in the International Journal of Frontier Missions (Jan. - Mar. 1995), Frank Kaleb Jansen of Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse said of Matthew 24:14 and Christ's use of the word Oikumene, "I believe Jesus is actually saying that this gospel of the Kingdom shall be proclaimed to EVERY HOME."

One new aspect of the distribution thrust of the God's Word and Literature Network of the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement is Every Home for Christ's Operation Oikos - a bold initiative to reach 1,000,000,000 (one billion) previously unevangelized people with the gospel, systematically, where they live (in their Oikos) by the year 2000. At the heart of this plan will be the launching of "every dwelling" initiatives to reach every family, literally, among all 2,000 unreached peoples targeted by Joshua Project 2000.

To help achieve this objective, on-site teams will be mobilized for prayer, research and systematic evangelism, with the ultimate goal of visiting every dwelling of each people group while seeing at least 200 converts established and discipled in reproducing fellowships among all 2,000 unreached peoples.

Operation Oikos will include literature designed for both adults and children to be distributed to every home. The plan will also work closely with the Saturation Evangelism Resource Network (with its JESUS film project) as well as other evangelism initiatives in seeking to literally saturate these 2,000 unreached peoples with the gospel in a measurable manner.

John Bendor-Samuel of Wycliffe Bible Translators - UK also reports ambitious plans concerning Scriptures for every people:

"A Church for Every People" surely implies that "every people" have access to the Bible. How can there be a viable witnessing church unless God's Word is available to that Church? "The gospel for every person" similarly implies that "every person" has access to the Scriptures in a language they understand.

One element in the carrying forward of Joshua Project 2000 is making sure that Scriptures are translated and available in all the languages of the nearly 2,000 Least- Evangelized Peoples.

At the time of my writing, of the 2,000 peoples, 559 are listed as having no Scriptures. Looking at the various countries, India tops the list with 87 such peoples, followed by Nigeria with 56, China with 35, Chad 29, Sudan 28, Nepal 25 and Indonesia 20. There are in fact 18 countries where there are 10 or more peoples without Scriptures.

It is a huge task to provide Scriptures for another 559 language groups. It must be a cooperative effort involving the church leaders in each country and the Bible agencies. The remaining translation needs have been discussed in the God's Word and Literature Network meetings. The following were among the recommendations made:

  1. To encourage all involved in a country toward an active Bible translation program for all groups of 100,000 speakers by December 1997 and some Scripture produced in written and audio form by December 2000.
  2. To urge the Bible agencies, preparing country strategies and church leaders, to give priority to having the New Testament produced in appropriate forms for all languages with 500,000 speakers by December 2000.
  3. To applaud steps taken by the Forum of Bible Agencies to work together, to avoid duplication and to develop strategies for meeting Scripture needs worldwide and to request attention to the needs of the 10/40 Window.

God's Word and Literature Network is also concerned about the systematic distribution of Scripture. They passed a resolution

requesting country and regional groups to encourage and assist the establishment of a national initiative for systematic distribution of a printed or recorded message of salvation based on God's Word, village-by-village, town-by-town and family-by-family in every nation by the year 2000, particularly focusing on the neediest region of the world, the 10/40 Window.

This resolution also requested country and regional groups to mobilize and encourage strategic focused prayer for those nations whose laws continue to prohibit such organized, systematic distribution of God's message of salvation.

Huge as this task is, when we see what God is doing we are encouraged.

Audio Communications Task Force Allan Starling of Gospel Recordings comments about his ministry's challenges in assisting those peoples who cannot read:

Each of us in Joshua Project 2000 agree that: Every people group needs a thriving church in its midst. Before this can happen, they need to hear the gospel message. You cannot have a thriving church without also having the Scriptures.

As we look closer at the task, we see that it is incredibly complex; there are some formidable barriers; and no one group can accomplish it alone.

One important strategy is audio communication. This includes primarily audio recordings in vernacular languages. The content of the recordings includes evangelism, the Scriptures and discipling.

Audio Communication Helps to Overcome Barriers The Illiteracy Barrier includes two billion nonreaders. Many groups are almost completely illiterate. Others, like the North American Blackfoot Indians, are literate in English, but have little interest in reading their traditional language which is used only orally. This barrier swings aside when nonreaders hear the message.

The Language Barrier includes a formidable 10,000 languages and dialects. It melts away when people hear their language spoken, just the way they speak it, on the recordings.

The Geographic Barrier: Tribes tucked away in the mountains of Nepal are not visited often by missionaries. The effect of this barrier is greatly lessened as they repeatedly listen to cassettes that have been left with them.

The Prejudice Barrier: Missionaries are not welcome in the isolated villages of the Trique Indians of southern Mexico. The prejudice barrier has been negated by gospel cassettes in their own dialect, carried home by migrant workers.

The Political Barrier often shuts out missionaries, but not audio cassettes. The Manpower Barrier: Audio communications helps missionaries and evangelists to cope with the manpower barrier by multiplying their voices.

Audio Communication is a tool available to all missionaries and Christians. It provides a pre-church- planting strategy. It allows missionaries to reach groups whose language they cannot yet speak. It helps new believers to witness.

Women's Network Lorry Lutz of the AD2000 Women's Network reports great enthusiasm among women for Joshua Project 2000:

Around the world women have taken to praying for the lost and unreached in large numbers, many using The Study Guide for Evangelism Praying, which was written for the Women's Network by Evelyn Christenson.

The Global Consultation on World Evangelization meeting, held last May in Korea, touched another nerve. Iqbal Massey explains that women in her seminar on reaching Muslim women told her, "This is the first time we as women realized it is our responsibility. We were always depending on others. We can take part in prayer and evangelism. " This vision seems to have captured the hearts of women in many regions. From Russia, Olga Spachil wrote that there are about 50 ethnic groups within reach of Krasnadar where she lives and that women are eager to make research forays into some of them. "We can even take a team into Chechnya-- if the cease fire holds," she writes. But she requests guidelines and a sample questionnaire to prepare them.

Meanwhile, women in the Arpana prayer movement in India have been talking about visiting unreached tribes they have been praying for, reports Juliet Thomas of India.

While women in various regions of the world are praying and planning about sending teams of women to do such "on-site" research, the ideal will be that men and women cooperate. By sharing insights and comparing findings, they will be able to plan evangelism strategies together, thus hastening the rate of world evangelization and helping to fulfill our goal by the year 2000.

Radio Task Force Radio is able to reach peoples behind closed doors. Arnie Remtema, coordinator for the AD2000 Radio Task Force, explains further:

The international radio ministries, sharing the "World by 2000" commitment, will make a significant impact towards the Joshua Project 2000 goal. Since September 10, 1985, Far East Broadcasting Associates (FEBA), Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), Society of International Ministries (SIM), Trans World Radio (TWR) and World Radio Missionary Fellowship (HCJB) have shared the purpose of working together to provide every man, woman and child on earth the opportunity to turn on their radios and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in the language they can understand so they can become followers of Christ and responsible members of His church. This commitment has been joined by Words of Hope and other World by 2000 Associates to produce, and broadcast, programs around the globe to see this commitment and goal realized by the year 2000.

The international radio ministries have had the privilege and blessing of seeing the Holy Spirit use radio broadcasts and move in such a way as to penetrate across geographical, physical, political and religious barriers and behind the closed doors of people's homes and hearts, bringing them to faith in Christ. The seed of God's Word planted by radio broadcasts has resulted in the Word taking root and producing the fruit of people coming to faith in Christ and seeing churches planted, even where missionaries and church planters may never be able to live, or go. The international radio ministries are planting and nourishing the seed of God's Word reaching, at times, several ethnic groups who understand a common language and providing an effective, truly indigenous, pioneer church-planting movement within the various ethno-linguistic people groups of the world.

Saturation Evangelism and Small Group Leadership Development Network The Jesus film continues to be perhaps the strongest evangelical tool in use today. Paul Eshleman of Campus Crusade for Christ has this to say:

Campus Crusade for Christ continues to see the AD2000 and Beyond Movement as a vital networking effort toward the evangelization of the world by 2000 AD. The emergence of Joshua Project 2000 is an opportunity in which we want to fully participate. We view this endeavor as another chapter in the building of partnerships toward providing the gospel for every person and a Church for every people by the year 2000.

In conjunction with Joshua Project 2000, our desire is to provide the JESUS film in an understandable language to the 2,000 least- evangelized peoples of the world. This film is presently available in the language of most of the mega-people groups (languages of at least one million speakers). It is presently available in languages spoken by 542 of the targeted unevangelized peoples, and is currently being dubbed into languages spoken by an additional 222 of these unevangelized peoples. By the year 2000 the desire is to have the film available in 1,154 languages, which includes every language with at least 75,000 speakers.

In addition to making the JESUS film available in these languages, it is also our desire to provide everyone in the world at least one opportunity to see the JESUS film through cooperative efforts worldwide. Through film teams, video saturation campaigns, audio tapes and radio versions of the film, television showings and new strategies being developed, it is our prayerful objective, in conjunction with thousands of our partners worldwide, to see six billion exposures to the JESUS film. Only God can do this, but we want to join with the worldwide body of Christ to faithfully do all we can to makethe film available to everyone should He choose to open the necessary doors and provide the opportunities.

Providing the JESUS film everywhere in the world, as well as opportunities to hear the gospel through literature distributed to every home (or hut), radio and television programs broadcast into every part of the world, plus thousands of other strategies, will be needed to see our hope of the gospel for every person by 2000 AD.

Campus Crusade for Christ continues to build partnerships through AD2000's Saturation Evangelism and Small Group Leadership Development Network as well as cooperating with many of the other resource networks, to not only get the JESUS film everywhere, but to help in the disciple-making of the new believers. A commitment to a Church for every people is vitally important. Through training centers strategically located worldwide, small group leaders are being equipped to follow through with the fruit of the mass evangelism efforts.

Joshua Project 2000 will be a crucial contributor toward helping to mobilize people to help reach the 2,000 least-evangelized peoples and establish viable churches. This will require an intentional effort by those resource-rich parts of the Body of Christ worldwide to pull together in a focused attempt to place equipped harvesters in these nearly 2,000 peoples who have yet to know of God's love and forgiveness offered freely through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Cities Network Paul Landrey and Viv Grigg of the AD2000 Cities Network outline their commitment to the least-evangelized peoples in the 100 Gateway Cities:

By 2000 AD there will be over 400 cities of the world of over one million people. Over 300 of these could be classified as unevangelized. A disproportionately high percentage of these are located in the 10/40 Window. Some 30-90% of the people in each of these cities live in slums, shantytowns and squatter areas.

As information comes in from around the globe, we find churches in most of these cities. But few cities have sufficient numbers of believers and churches to effectively evangelize their city. Joshua Project 2000 is a grassroots idea which enables the global Church to come alongside these valiant--but outnumbered--believers in a concentrated effort to establish a church for every people and the gospel for every person in these least-evangelized cities, with particular focus on those within the 10/40 Window.

Pre-evangelism of the least- evangelized cities by AD 2000, especially in the 100 Gateway Cities, is a major focus of the AD2000 Cities Network. It is thrilling to see indigenous city leadership teams, partnerships of national leaders and mulitnational missionaries implementing strategies for evangelism and church planting in each city.

Effective strategies are most often indigenous. They are the result of people at the grassroots seeking the Father's heart for their own city. Joshua Project 2000 encourages all of us to listen to the dreams and plans of local leaders, like the sisters and brothers who make up the National Urban Network in India. This is but one illustration of the many city-wide and continent-wide networks of city leaders whereby African, Asian, Latino and Western missionaries can serve.

Introducing Media Network Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) is one segment of the media committed to informing the public about the goals of Joshua Project 2000. Eric Watt of CBN explains:

WorldReach: A Global Partnership Under the leadership of Pat Robertson, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) is launching a global evangelism plan for the 10/40 Window. Termed WorldReach, the plan will commit significant resources to focus its mass communication capabilities to win 500 million people to Christ by proclaiming the gospel to approximately 3 billion people in the next five years. Through both advanced and limited media and in partnership with AD2000 national initiatives and partnerships the goal is to provide these new believers the opportunity to grow in their faith in Christ through new and existing indigenous local churches.

At the core of CBN WorldReach is the belief that within the next five years there will be an unprecedented supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit and an equally unprecedented unity of purpose throughout the Body of Christ worldwide. Toward these ends, CBN WorldReach is placing its world evangelization partnership objectives into the core of a new AD2000 Media Track.

The goal of the AD2000 Media Track is to utilize media as an integrated evangelism and church- planting tool to aid acceleration of global evangelization of the world by AD2000. The objectives are:

  1. Provide broader-based state of the art media tools (broadcast television, video, film, radio, etc.) through the AD2000 and Beyond Movement and in cooperation with the whole Body of Christ, to evangelize three billion persons by December 31, 2000.
  2. Catalyze dynamic partnerships, global in dimension, to accelerate strategic evangelism/church-planting efforts among the world's 2,000 least- evangelized peoples by December 31, 2000. These partnerships will utilize the benefits of mass communication to enhance church- planting and leadership-training efforts.
  3. Prioritize the Gateway Cities and Gateway Peoples as an initial entry strategy for media-incorporated church-planting efforts with the goal of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by December 31, 2000.
  4. Utilize media to greatly enhance awareness of the status and progress of global evangelization, to aid mobilization of the Body of Christ for local and worldwide mission.
  5. Utilize media to mobilize massive and worldwide prayer for a dynamic unprecedented harvest in the 10/40 Window by Dec. 31, 2000.

Such faith-stretching objectives will only be met through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the partnership of national leadership and other cooperative efforts. Through the Media Track CBN WorldReach desires to extend its hand of partnership to all those committed to the goal of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000.

The initial phase of ministry will be to work together with national leadership and existing partnership to proclaim the Good News among the Gateway Cities and Peoples until each of the 2,000 least- evangelized peoples have a multiplying church within their culture.

How will such an initiative actually work? In the nation of Albania, for instance, productions are currently underway for children, teen and adult television specials to air November/December of 1995 and March/April 1996. These specials, along with other media events, have the potential to penetrate 90% of the country's households with the Good News on Albanian TV. The Albanian church, the AD2000 and Beyond Movement with its related tracks and the Albanian Encouragement Project are partnering to reach a cooperative goal. This goal? To combine media- related evangelism with 200,000 home visitations, JESUS Film showings, the distribution of thousands of pieces of literature, plus providing quality cell- church-planting training. Our prayer is that the once- communist nation of Albania would be thoroughly evangelized and that the existing church and its leadership would be further strengthened to disciple those the Lord adds to His Church.

We are believing that this kind of cooperation can be replicated among the Gateway Cities and Peoples of the 10/40 Window. Through the Media Network we are trusting the Lord for creative broadcast opportunities and the sponsorship of thousands of film teams. These teams would be coupled with the distribution of culturally relevant Media Paks (35,000,000), Literature Pieces (170,000,000), Home Visits (85,000,000), Bibles (5,500,000), Pastor Training (330,000), and Cell Churches Planted (3,300,000).

Is this possible? Yes, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit and the strategic cooperation of the Body of Christ. As the vice president for CBN WorldReach and the AD2000 Media Network Chairman, I invite you to pray with us for an unprecedented harvest within the 10/40 Window and to join with us in the harvest field.

Strategic Partnerships Phill Butler of Interdev is a builder of strategic partnerships through his ministry. He explains the importance of such linkage. Partnership is vital to the success of Joshua Project 2000! Why? Because at the very heart of Joshua Project 2000 is a plan to coordinate national initiatives, mission agencies, churches, and other agencies in their focus on the least evangelized. Coordination means partnership.

In stressing partnership and coordination, Joshua Project 2000 is moving right in step with what God is doing around the world. From Senegal in West Africa to Mongolia in North East Asia, Interdev has recorded that church and mission agencies from over 40 countries are now working together in distinct partnerships for evangelism and church planting in eighteen different language groups. In these eighteen strategic evangelism partnerships, more than 180 mission groups are involved. The partnerships have grown up rapidly over the last ten years and are concentrated in some of the world's most challenging areas for evangelism: Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Tibetan Buddhist countries.

Over the last ten years we have found that lasting, effective strategic evangelism partnerships never come to life spontaneously. And without a person of vision, they certainly never endure to see the Church established. To provide the intensive training this person needs, the AD2000 Partnership Network is looking to Interdev to provide its one-and two-week residential courses in partnership development. During the ten years of partnership development work, Interdev has identified key principles now known to be vital to lasting, effective partnerships. These principles have become the core of our training program. To date more than 150 leaders from some 25 countries have been through this training. During 1995-96, further training programs will be offered in Cyprus, India, London and South Africa.

The vision of a "church for every people and the gospel for every person" has been well received around the world. Now, as one can see from the plans put forth above, Joshua Project 2000 is becoming a rallying point for large-scale mobilization for preparing the way for church planting during the closing years of this millenium.


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