Tokyo 2010’s New Technology Vision
Building Global Network Platforms to Finish the Task
Imagine a place where intercessors, adopting churches, Christian businesses, mission agencies and funding partners can form global alliances to reach the world’s remaining unreached and unengaged peoples. Or imagine a forum where experts in technology can hear from field missionaries what their needs are and custom-design solutions for them. Or a database where Christian professionals can find tentmaking opportunities in the 10/40 Window. Or a resource directory where mission agencies can see what other organizations have developed across the world to address common problems.
If you keep imagining along those lines, you will probably find yourself in a place that mission strategists are calling the “Last Mile Calling” (LMC) project, an online collaborative Web application that will be launched at the Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation May 11-14. Unlike other global networking initiatives of the past, which have been primarily envisioned and resourced by Westerners, this one comes from the non-Western world, including the funding and programming.
In networking parlance, the “last mile” is the technical name given to the final stretch that completes a communications network. It is often the most difficult and complicated of networking tasks, involving the largest number of connections. With Tokyo 2010’s LMC platform this means just one thing: building the “last mile” connections between the global Body of Christ and the least-reached peoples of the world.
Missiologists have described global mission in the 21st century as being from everywhere to everywhere. The LMC will be a reflection of that reality, enabling adopting churches in Latin America to connect with adopting churches in Korea that can partner with local ministries in India to reach an unengaged group in Uttar Pradesh. Or the LMC will empower intercessors around the world to join with a group of on-site indigenous prayer teams entering into new territory for the Kingdom among an unengaged group in Iran. Or the LMC will connect a Christian software company in India with investors in Singapore to start a Kingdom company among a least-reached people group in China.
To facilitate this kind of strategic networking to finish the task, the LMC project has developed a special listing of the world’s remaining least-reached people groups, drawn from the three principal global databases of people groups (the World Christian Database, the International Mission Board database, and the USCWM’s Joshua Project database). Presently the LMC list consists of about 4,800 peoples with the least access to the gospel, of which about 57% are unengaged with no ongoing church-planting activity. The current list can be viewed at http://www.fmresearch.info It wi.ll be constantly reviewed and updated, and feedback is sought to improve the accuracy of the data.
A Global Mapping Initiative
In addition to the Last Mile Calling, another important project and tool that will be introduced at Tokyo 2010 is a Global Church Planting Database system. This tool will enable national Web sites to be built in local languages, showing the progress of church planting in every village, town and city and using a central mapping server. Thanks to the diligent work of Campus Crusade for Christ, this global database now includes demographic information on over three million communities in which 99% of humanity resides.
Additionally, this system will enable a strategy coordinator to download demographic data on a particular people group that will show every place where this group resides geographically. This data can then be loaded into an offline mapping program called ep3 (every place, every person, every people) being developed by Mission Aviation Fellowship, where ministry progress can be securely tracked. When new communities of this group are discovered, they can be added to the offline map and dataset, which can then be uploaded back to the global demographic database.
The ultimate objective is to enable every people group to have its own church-planting movement strategy in place with a team of indigenous leaders committed to seeing every person in every community of their people group have access to the gospel and to a disciple-making fellowship. With the combination of the Global Church Planting Database and the ep3 mapping program, such CPM strategy teams will have a significant tool in their hands for planning, analysis and mobilization. Most importantly, this simple system designed with one particular purpose will take the power of mapping directly into the hands of practitioners without requiring any kind of training in cartography or the use of expensive, sophisticated mapping software.
But all this is just the beginning of what can be done with new technologies now emerging. Increasingly, a growing coalition of programmers and engineers are telling the global mission community: “Tell us what you need and we’ll build it.” The Technology and Mission Task Force, which will be launched at Tokyo 2010, intends to facilitate communication between these two parts of the Body of Christ. The hope is that this will lead to new innovations that can be useful to missionaries around the world facing similar challenges.
In the days when the tabernacle was being built in the Old Testament, God anointed two men “with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of craft” to help get the job done (Ex. 31:2-3). Could today’s believing engineers and computer programmers be the modern-day equivalent of such men? Chosen to help build the house of God made up of all peoples? Very likely so, and may their tribe greatly increase! If you are such a person, feel free to contact us and we will plug you into this growing network (firstname.lastname@example.org).