Tuesday, January 12

My thoughts on the new IMB global objectives (KRAs)

The new International Mission Board (IMB) global mission objectives, or KRA's* are great objectives. Three broad challenges. All worthy of our best efforts, energy, time, and sacrifice.

1. Engaging and reaching the UPGs*, UUPGs**, and UUUPGs.***

2. Engaging and reaching the unreached megacities.

3. Mobilizing America's partners to the Great Commission task.

My concern, though, lies in what is not stated. It is in the "fine print" of how some of the key words are being defined where my concerns lie (see my related blog post People or Unreached People Groups?).

I am certainly all for engaging and reaching the "unreached people groups" of our region and the world. But when "unreached" is defined as 2% or less, something within my missionary heart also cries out for the millions who are supposedly "reached" but are on their way to hell! Who decides when 2.1% of a people group has been engaged, they are "reached" and time to move on? Why not 3%, or 10%, or 25%?

The same hold true for the 2nd KRA of engaging and reaching the unreached megacities. Which passage in the N.T. guides us in our definition of "unreached megacities" as cities with populations greater than 5-million and 2% or less evangelized?

The detail in our 3rd KRA is the subjective "partners". Who are we defining as those partners? Are America's Partners...

1) Like-minded Baptists coming from anywhere in the Americas?
2) Any great Commission Christian (GCC) in the Body of Christ?
3) Both #1 and #2?

If #3, great! But for the moment, the parameters around the term "partners" are still not clear to me. Do the former "New Directions" guidelines for partners still apply, or are there new definitions now in place? I just don't know.

What I would like to see lifted from the first two KRAs are the unnecessary definitions that have been tacked on to the terms "unreached" and "megacities".

With these definition of terms, Guayaquil's 7% evangelical population is a "reached" city. But when 93 souls out of every 100 are on their way to a Christless eternity, how does this reconcile with Jesus own teaching on the matter? (See Luke 15 of the Good Shepherd leaving the 99 to find the one lost sheep.)

Some might argue that unless we put definitions to these terms, the 2% or less evangelized people groups will continue to be ignored, lost in the shuffle. But are we to disengage from the millions--in our particular case, 6 million plus--to engage the remaining American UPGs, or UUPGs, with populations often numbering only a few thousand?

My experience has shown the best way to engage UPGs is mobilizing our partners from within the greater than 2% Evangelical population centers. It seems, more than ever, we need strong apostolic presence in the "reached" cities of the Americas if, for not other reason, to make sure all three KRAs are given priority attention.

In summary, it is not the wording of our KRA's that concerns me, but the unnecessary definitions that have been attached to the terms.

The most likely scenario for truly engaging the 2% or less UPGs, UUPGs, UUUPGs and Megacities has less to do with defining percentages as criteria for missionary presence, and more with placing genuine apostolically/prophetically gifted workers in key "reached" centers. There, from a strategic field position mobilize, connect, partner, train, engage, and support coordinated CPM efforts to make disciples of the nations, and bring in the final Great Harvest.

What do you think? How do you see and understand the IMB's Global Objectives (KRAs)? Can you answer any of my questions? Your thoughts are welcome.

-----------------------
*UPG=unreached people groups (2% or less evangelical Christian)
**UUPG=unengaged unreached people groups
***UUUPG=uncontacted unengaged unreached people groups
KRA=key result areas
CPM=church planting movement

22 comments:

Ryan Rice said...

I agree with you totally about the term's 'unreached' and how it is used exclusively on a small percentage. It seems like there should be emphasis on all areas. There are places where seeds need to be sown, places where those seeds need attention and care, and places ready for a harvest. It's all the same mission, just different stages. All deserve the same attention.

Strider said...

The problem with the percentages is not so much that they are arbitrary but that they fail to accurately describe what we mean. There are lots and lots of non-believers everywhere, we know that. Missiologically we also know that national believers are the most effective at reaching their own people so we decide that once 2% of the population is reached then that is enough for a national church to take responsibility for the reaching of its own people. I think this is true as far as it goes. To continue with a foreign presence- or heaven forbid foreign leadership- would be to hinder the discipleship and call of the local church. But the problem is that just because we do or do not reach 2% is irrelevant to whether those churches and believers are actually taking responsibility for reaching their nation. Further, even if some of them do take responsibility are they doing it well, have we trained and mentored them to do the job? In your city just because 7% claim to be evangelical does that mean you have tens of thousands of discipled, dedicated nationals who are actively going out and starting churches which are reaching the lost? I bet if you saw that happen you would be the first to say, 'pack it up we are going somewhere else.' But that is not the case. While the percentage of those who claim to follow Christ may very much exceed 2% this is not the issue, the issue is do you have a trained, dedicated national church that is committed to reaching its own people? But that is harder to evaluate. 2% is much easier to count and quantify. But we must do a better job of evaluating or we are on our way to a situation where one plants and no one waters and then where will the harvest be?

Stephen M. Young II said...

I think the idea of focusing on unreached and unengaged and uncontacted (do those still exist) groups is the amount of relative light available to the people.

One lit match in a pitch black room can give a whole lot more relative light than the 5th match lit.

So, if there are 2% (sounds very arbitrary, you're right) Christians in a people group, that would be like the first couple of candles lit in the darkness.... Now there is some light... moving on to where there is none must be the priority.

On the other hand, one might see a good reason to stay and train a candle holder how to equip others with candles and light those and continue the process.

There is never going to be a perfect mission statement. Honestly, I wonder if part of the problem is trying to have ONE over-arching strategy and filtering all the job descriptions and assignments based on that strategy.

Doesn't the Holy Spirit still send people to specific places like he did with Paul and Phillip? It's not a chess game where we want to put our pieces in strategic places in order to checkmate the devil. It's loving people and announcing the good news to them and teaching them to follow Lord Jesus. (And, with that, I've gone over to naive oversimplification.)

GuyMuse said...

Ryan,

Your observation about the world being divided up according to fields that are to be plowed, seed sown, seed watered, and harvest time, is very pertinent to this discussion. We need people in all areas of the harvest, including when it is time to bring in the harvest! One of my concerns is precisely that at the moment when the fruit of decades of labor (including that of your own parents) is finally ready to be harvest, we are pulling people out of the harvest to send them to plow ground again in new territories. We need such people, but for those people to be pulled away from the harvest to plow is where I have mixed emotions!

GuyMuse said...

Strider,

I think you make an excellent point in seeing this as an issue where the real question is whether or not there is a "trained, dedicated national church" committed to reaching its own people. We have long felt and even stated on paper that, for us, THAT would be our exit strategy. When we begin to see a clear Acts 1:8 mindset, that would be a clear signal it is time to move on.

One of the paragraphs I originally wrote for this post, but deleted to make it shorter, was to the effect that we do NOT see this thinking in the churches and leaders here. There is certainly a desire to see their individual churches grow, but we are not at the point (save a few I can count on one hand) who think beyond their local communities.

As you say, 2% is much easier to count and quantify, than the more subjective, "the church is now ready to carry on reaching their Judea, Samaria, and ends of the earth.

P.S. We continue to pray for you guys these days in the situation you are facing there where you serve.

GuyMuse said...

Stephen,

Excellent points you also bring out.

I too have wondered if part of the problem is our trying to have ONE over-arching strategy for the whole world and "filtering all the job descriptions and assignments based on that strategy." It seems that was at least, part of the problem with the last major change with New Directions. We tried to have one strategy (which seemed to work well in Asia) and apply it to the rest of the world.

The other point you bring out that I have heard others discuss is the whole matter of whether we still count on the Holy Spirit being the one to send people out to where HE wants them, versus the IMB being the one to determine this? I think what you call "naive oversimplification" makes a lot of sense to a lot of people, including me!

Ryan Rice said...

Exactly. That's what I mean. It would be foolish for me or anyone else to say you are a planter, or a harvester. Doesn't the farmer do all the work on the land he is dedicated to? Does he leave after planting and call in someone to harvest? I've never heard of that. Pulling people out of where God has called them to be seems strange to me. Unless, God is also telling them to move on. I could be completely off base here. This is just my opinion after what has been discussed. I don't claim to have all the answers. It just seems strange to me that people serving God are shifted around by formula. Not that formulas are bad, it just seems that the equation is lacking some important factors.

GuyMuse said...

Ryan,

Wow, I would not have thought to say it quite the way you do, but have to agree with the way you put it, It just seems strange to me that people serving God are shifted around by formula. Not that formulas are bad, it just seems that the equation is lacking some important factors. That is well said!

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Greetings, Guy,

Once again, and after many moons, I have taken some time to view a few blogs. I have largely ignored much that people are saying since before Christmas.

I believe there are two things that must always be remembered when one is speaking and strategizing about missions:

1)the harvest belongs to the Lord. Else, why would Jesus instruct us to "pray to the Lord of the harvest?" As such, we do ourselves damage by ignoring any part of the harvest. This is true, because the Lord of the harvest, not us, should determine where he wants laborers.

2) The Holy Spirit is the one who issues the call. Now I know there is a school of thought that is deemphasizing the theology of a specific call; but that does not change the Holy Spirit's will. He chooses and sends out laborers. Therefore, to divide the world into segments and declare that we can only work in this, that, or the other seems to ignore the call of the Holy Spirit in a person's life.

If there is a positive in anything we are saying these days it is that of seeking an awakening of sorts among our national partners, urging them to go out, as well. They need to believe they can do this. And we need to be their biggest "cheerleaders."

Shalom, and Happy Anniversary

GuyMuse said...

Kevin,

Two excellent points that you bring to the conversation. I agree with both. It does seem at times that we are invading the Holy Spirit's territory and deciding things that rightfully belong to the King. This is one of the major themes of W. Simson's "Starfish Manifesto", the whole thing about Jesus being King of His Kingdom; not any denomination, organization, nation, or personal kingdom.

Your last point of seeing our national brothers rise to the task is indeed exciting, but there are still too few (at least here) who are taking the ball and running with it. It seems there is still the need for a missionary presence to rally the Church and "empower" them to do what Jesus already commanded 2000 years ago.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Guy,

I cannot speak for Ecuador, but Peru is an anomaly all the way around. Work (whether traditional or innovative) that includes foreign missionaries grows faster and expands more rapidly than works where the missionary is uninvolved. Our change in strategy has already slowed down our growth. More changes will further exacerbate the sluggishness that we see.

What's encouraging, however, is that our potential missionaries have been contacting my national partner more than they have contacted me. Encouragement is where we are now. My team feels empowered.

Anonymous said...

Wish I could say we feel empowered!
We feel like we are not needed and it is time to move on. Pray for us, PLEASE!!

Anonymous said...

WHo is running IMB now? Obama? This is what happens when community organizers are allowed to make executive decisions.

GuyMuse said...

Kevin,

I found your remark "Work...that includes foreign missionaries grows faster and expands more rapidly than works where the missionary is uninvolved..." to be true here as well. The way I interpret that role in our own local context, is that we have evolved into more of a grandparent role, rather than a father role in the work. In healthy families grandparents are looked to for their years of experience and respected for their insights and wisdom. Families with grandparents seem to be a lot stronger than those without them. It is a joy to see those we have poured our lives into begin to become the spiritual fathers and mothers that we once were. They now have their own sons and daughters. We are taking more of a backseat "grandfather" role, and enjoying the "grandkids" and seeing them grow up.

Just last night, I saw this in action as one of our "spiritual sons" led out effectively in a training for new church planters. While I was there, I found myself assisting him, rather than the other way around. My real role came in the 30-minute drive as I took him home after the training. There we talked about what had taken place earlier in the evening as I shared my observations, suggestions, and thoughts. It was great, but to be honest, a bit hard, as I realized the baton has already been passed on to the next generation. We are still a valuable part of the team, but we are no longer the front runners as we once were!

GuyMuse said...

Anonymous 7:11pm and Anonymous 7:47pm,

I don't know if you are one and the same person, or different commenters, but I hear your pain.

Would love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and talk some of these things out together. I know there are many hurting M's out there that aren't sure where to turn to for help and are feeling very confused right now.

If I can be a trusted friend to you, please feel free to write me an email (see profile for email address).

As I close this response to you, know that I will indeed pause for a few moments and pray for you wherever you are and whatever your particular situation is.

Anonymous said...

Guy, I wrote the first Anom.comment. We are hurt, we gave our lives to this, because God called. But according to all the new directions, we are just worthless. They wouldn't say that, but because we are just down here working, prayig for everybody around the world, they decide that we need to get out of here because it is 6% evangelized all over Latin America. I agree and I know everybody agrees we need to do more to reach all groups. But the task they are proposing here, what happens when we reach them all and Jesus doesn't come back? Am I wrong about this question? All of this seems very dangerous to me. My last question is the IMB doing this in other countries where we have had a missionary precense for a while? One last comment, I know we need to study stats, I know we need to study alot of numbers, but I think we have forgotten that we are talking about real people, with real needs and that God knows everyone of them. In your post you said they said a person has a oppurtunity to go to a church even if we are gone. I am thinking that is a very prideful way to think. I don't think Jesus wants us to say, "Hey I want work there because there is a church, he can find it." Where is all the common sense gone? All you guys are alot smarter than me, but I see people for who they are Lost, needing a savior and not a stat. I am really depressed about all these moves and how it will affect us. If I am wrong I will admit it, I want everyone to know, but I think we can do it better than sending missionaries home.

Stan said...

Hi Guy!

There are many great comments already. I read here a great deal of emotion, much of it hurt and confusion. These are certainly trying times, but I do not fear this situation.

I would like to share some specifics about my own area of work. In the Eph 4 ministry I am a teacher. That is who God has hard-wired me to be.

God recently moved me to a new city, but it is not a "mega-city." We have 6 baptist churches, about 600 baptists at most, in a city of 600,000. Only two of those 6 baptist churches have sound doctrine and are growing. The Brazilian Home Mission board sent one of their own missionaries here. He has begun meetings with the local pastors to talk doctrine. He is trying to learn with whom he can work. So, he is not even viewing all the Baptist churches here as legitimate partners with which he can work. I am not talking about the general "evangelical" population, but the Baptists.

When we look at the term "evangelical" in Brazil we have to realize that pretty much anyone who is not Catholic is considered an "evangelical." When the Brazilian government publishes census statistics "evangelical" does not mean much, if anything, more than the person who answered the door was not Catholic. It certainly does not mean that the person has a saving faith in Jesus Christ alone.

There is a great deal of health and wealth in the "evangelical" churches in Brazil. The majority appear to have a works-based salvation. One of the largest health and wealth churches that has spread itself throughout Brazil has begun selling annointed KY jelly for barren women to be able to have children.

For me personally, the term "evangelical" in Brazil means virtually nothing. Perhaps things are drastically different in the rest of South America. But for me, "South America: Reached? Not Yet!" is still the reality in which I toil.

All that to say this - I will press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

My time may be short, so I continue to equip the saints for works of service - this is what God has hard-wired me to do.

Joe bruce said...

Guy,
I appreciate your observations. I think they are right on target. Some years ago, as we were moving into "New Directions" I presented a report to the IMB trustees in which I listed 10 reasons I felt the Americas were still a "mission field." Obviously the report was written in the context of that time, but as I've re-read it I find it is still right in line with your observations. I'll scan you a copy if you are interested.

Anyway in the process of preparing the report, I ran across the following quote in an editorial by Jim Reapsome in the July, 1996 issue of "Evangelical Missions Quarterly." He said, "If I understand the church's unfinished task correctly, it is that every generation of people needs Jesus. Suppose we do reach every last people group with a penetrating gospel witness. Does that mean there are no more people left to evangelize? Does that mean we call a moratorium on the Great Commission? Of course not!

"Every reached people group needs to be reached again and again--every person in every generation. That's the church's perpetual work ethic. We can't chalk off any tribe or nation because once upon a time somebody started a church there."

GuyMuse said...

Anon. 9:54am,

Again, I hear your pain, and understand where you are coming from. If you'd like to email me, please feel free to do so (see our email address in our profile).

I think Joe Bruce's comments, which follow yours, addresses well the issue you bring up when he quotes "Every reached people group needs to be reached again and again--every person in every generation. Just look at modern Ephesus, Corinth, Athens, Thessalonica, which were reached in their day, but are no longer reached today.

GuyMuse said...

Stan,

Thanks for the good thoughts you share with us. The point about everyone who is NOT a Catholic is an "evangelical" is true here as well. What increases the percentage of "reached" is a mixture of JW, Latter Day Saints, your famous Brazilian sect of "Pare de Sufrir" churches, and a bunch more. When you start adding in all these pseudo-evangelicals the percentage quickly rises about 2%. There is a lack of accurate religious affiliation statistical information, and yet we are making decisions based upon this faulty and flawed information. As you point out, the term "evangelical" is almost meaningless anymore. I personally do not use the term myself because it has become so broad and all inclusive of everything outside of the RC church.

GuyMuse said...

Joe,

I am so glad you have added your thoughts to the dialog. Excellent observations! If it is not too much trouble, I would very much like to have a scanned copy of your IMB-BoT report. The Jim Reapsome quote is priceless and right on target. I'll have to see if I can track down the original article from the EMQ archives. I guess all this is so very pertinent to me personally in that we are living very full days here in Guayaquil of "bringing in the harvest". There is so much yet to do, and finally the Church is beginning to respond. The decades of faithful labor by those who preceded us are bearing the fruit of the Gospel seed planted.

Ted Bergman said...

I don't see reference to the "every people group" command that you can find in almost every book of the Bible. We still have most missionaries, thankfully not IMB missionaries, going to work among reached people groups. We need those missionaries, but emphasis needs to be on workers for people groups that do not have a reproducing church or scripture that they understand adequately. That is what the Great Commission is about--ALL peoples.