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Getting organized to reach the world. (Part 1)
by Aramus Crane 2005.02.20Part 1 Organizing the audience
Part 2 Organizing the message
Christian missionaries often work haphazardly~~what some might call "following the Spirit." However, if man is able to plan, I ask isn't God able to plan and assist us in our planning? I would say that it would be sacrilege to say he can't. So, why don't we? Some feel that planning and strategizing runs counter to the will of God because it tries to regiment Him. Others, like me, believe it disciplines us to seek the mind of God and the will of the Holy Spirit. Looking at the physique of many believers, self-discipline is not high on the list of their fruit of the Holy Spirit. I believe that planning does not constrain the work of the Holy Spirit, but it enables us to be the most effective at what we are doing.
For example, one thing that planning and strategizing do is make us organized. One of the most famous oxymorons is the "Christian organization". It is not an accidental oxymoron but it is deliberate. The Romanian Director of a prominent international humanitarian organizations was in a Bible study with me on the book of James. We read:
"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain'; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.'
The man said that this meant to him that we shouldn't make plans for year-to-year or even day-to-day. Since he was rather opinionated, all his colleagues just sat there listening. I don't know if I was the only one to disagreement other. But, I tend to be a bit more outspoken, and I said, "Doesn't James write "you ought to say, 'we shall do this or that'? That sounds like a plan to me." What James is saying is that we should recognize the Lord's hand in our future and leave out of our planning the certainty that we will get gain. Results are the Lord's business, not ours. Our business is to prepare and perform the best we can. This applies to spiritual work as much as it does to secular work.
Planning and self-discipline probably would have as much popularity with the majority of evangelical circles today as it did with that man in 1997. This is why our effectiveness is so low and we are infamous in the world for our unpreparedness and unfruitfulness. Our lack of professionalism and productivity is probably part of the reason why we earn so little respect or salary. The Perspectives (www.perspectives.org) movement is taking a great step to change that. The importance of planning and strategizing is great. So, let us look at the mission ahead of us.
For the purposes of evangelism, there are a number of ways of breaking down the world's population into more understandable bites.
First, one can break the world's population down into Major Cultural Blocks, 8 groups of people with vastly different mindsets and perspectives in life. It gives you a global overview. The eight groups, as defined by Winter and Koch are: Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Tribal, Chinese, Jewish, Christian, and Non-Religious. (Winter RD, Koch BA; "Finishing the Task" Perspectives: A Reader Pasadena, California: William Carey Library 1999. p. 512)
This is the largest grouping category with the fewest numbers of distinct units in the world. Then we can break down the world into the first groupings with a fair amount of homogeneity. If someone from one group would meet someone from another, there would be significant difference in worldview.
Next, in order of size, are the ethnolinguistic peoples whom missiologists usually distinguish by linguistic, ethnic, historical, and political boundaries. Each of these would have different languages, ethnic origins, and visa requirements. There are about 3000 of these peoples in the world. Understanding these will enable a mission to develop a mobilization strategy. Examples of these are Romanians, Hungarians, Northern and Southern Italians, Gypsies, etc.
These are people which have separate lines of descent, history, customs, and language. Worldview may be somewhat similar, but practices and communication would be very different. For instance Romania and America are generally western in thought but if you put two people from these two cultures in a room, they would not be able to communicate and would find each other's customs or ways of expressing their views quite different. The value of classifying ethnolinguisticpeoples is that you can decide what a missionary needs to learn in order to reach these people.
Unimax People or People Groups
The next smaller group would be what Ralph Winter calls the Unimax People, a network of families with a shared identity. The name gets its origin from Winter's definition: "the maximum sized group sufficiently unified to be the target of a single people movement to Christ" (ibid) One would normally target a church planting movement for each of these groups. There are approximately 10,000 of these peoples in the world. For instance, in Romania, there are the Orthodox/Catholic, the Gypsies, the Hungarians, the Repenters, and the Muslims. Some term these "people groups".
Finally, there are sociopeoples, a group of peers with common activities or interests. Their numbers are undetermined but would include taxi drivers, football players, Orthodox artists, Catholic teachers, Gypsie students, etc. Each or these would make a good small group because common interests make sharing much easier.
These are people who have an
affinity for one another because they share the same interests,
activities or occupations. The value of this grouping is that there is
affinity between the groups and when you can generate a spark of
spiritual life among a group, it will easily travel to others in the
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