International (MNN) — Two billion people are completely cut off from the Gospel. Reaching them is a mandate of the Great Commission, and there are hundreds of ministries working toward that end. However, says David Pope of POPE Initiatives, there’s one big problem standing in the way.
“You have Bible translation groups that are working with unreached people groups, or UPGs. You have church planting groups working with UPGs,” he explains.
“All of those things are happening, but they’re [often] not happening in concert with one another.”
On the mission field, Pope says, ministries are often completely unaware of the others’ existence.
“It would be like… [farmers] plowing furrows in a field right next to each other, and not even know[ing] the other person was there.”
To remedy the situation, Pope proposes a three-step process. Unifying the Body of Christ cannot happen without the Holy Spirit, he stresses, but “what we’ve found is that if you can raise up a ‘banner’ of a like-minded goal, then you can get people to come around [that] idea.”
Step One: Aggregation
Aggregation is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a group, body, or mass composed of many distinct parts or individuals” or “the collecting of units or parts into a mass or whole.”
Pertaining to the Great Commission, Pope defines aggregation as rallying people around the idea that unreached people groups need to be reached. This is usually the easiest one to complete, he adds.
Once people and ministries are “sold” on the idea, partnership is a natural next step.
Step Two: Collaboration
Turning once again to Merriam-Webster, collaboration is formed from the intransitive verb collaborate, which means “to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.”
In the missions world, collaboration implies shared effort toward a common goal. Unfortunately, it means “you help me with my thing” for most ministries, says Pope.
“There’s not a lot of sharing that goes on in the process. True collaboration is when we’re open-minded and open-handed with one another.”
If ministries are “willing to receive input and give input… but also be willing to be open-handed about what we have [and] ‘give it away’ to others,” he continues, then the process can potentially move into its third step.
Step Three: Integration
Finally, integration can be defined several different ways. However, the most applicable definition comes from the transitive verb “integrate” which means “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole” or “to unite with something else.”
As defined by POPE Initiatives, integration happens when ministries combine their strengths to create something new.
“The goal is for us to create a new thing that will accomplish the ultimate task with the least duplication of effort.”
Defining a process is one thing, but acting it out is another. “I think we’ll see success when we see that first project begin to happen,” Pope concurs.
“Work is already beginning in some places.”
POPE Initiatives has teamed up with two “strategic” partners we’re leaving unnamed for security purposes. Using the process Pope outlined, these ministries are striving to reach UPGs (Unreached People Groups) in two key regions.
“Region A” is unnamed for security purposes, he says. In an initiative consisting of more than 14 nations, about 100 UPGs are currently targeted; eight of them are UUPGs (Unreached and Unengaged People Groups). “Region B” is West Africa, and the ministries are focusing on unreached people groups in 15 countries.
Please pray for wisdom as POPE Initiatives and its partners define ministry targets for West Africa. There are 298 UUPGs in the region, Pope explains, and the ministries need help deciding where to begin.
Prayer undergirds the entire movement.
“Pray that we would keep our eyes focused on Jesus because ultimately, we want Him to get the greatest glory,” Pope requests. “We recognize that we will utterly fail what we’re attempting if God does not step in.
“I’m reminded of what Moses said: ‘Don’t lead us from this place if You don’t go with us!’ We feel that way. Don’t send us out to accomplish this task, Lord, without Your palpable presence.”
Header photo is a stock image obtained via Unsplash.