Completing the Task of the Great Commission in 10 Easy Steps?

I confess the title is something of a joke. I wrote it, however, to make a point. There are over 7 billion people in the world. More than 4 billion are non-believers, of whom, over 2 billion have no access to the Gospel. Getting to ‘closure’ or ‘finishing the task’ can appear to be an almost impossible job. Breaking the task into chunks can make the task more manageable.

The numbers are huge, but the individual people are found in individual population segments: provinces, districts, languages, etc. Many of these are around 100,000 in size. If we use a fairly simple multiplying strategy, eight generations of church planting would be enough to ‘reach’ a population segment by any current definition, and ten generations would thoroughly disciple it.

Let’s do some math:

  • Assume the world is broken down into 100,000 population segments. Obviously, you can divide any million-person population into ten such chunks. In real life, they aren’t divided that cleanly. There are, for instance, more people in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (city) where I live than in many states in America. However, once you get down to the ‘district’ level (one below provinces/states), populations are often measured in terms of hundreds of thousands. My ‘city’ within the DFW area is 250,000 or so.
  • Assume each discipling leader mentors a group of 6 people. This is fairly conservative; of the 900+ movements we track around the world, the average group size is 15. I use six here because in many highly-restricted places, groups will average 5 to 6 due to security issues. These figures should work almost anywhere.
  • Assume, of the six, the discipler is mentoring, three go on to gather groups of 6 themselves. Again, in our experience, this is relatively common. In restricted-access areas with smaller groups, more people become disciplers with their own groups (because they have a higher commitment due to the security issues). In less-restricted areas, 3 out of a group of 15 isn’t uncommon.
GenerationNew LeadersTotal LeadersNew AdherentsTotal Adherents
11167
2341825
39135479
42740162241
581121486727
624336414582185
77291,0934,3746,559
82,1873,28013,12219,681
96,5619,84139,36659,047
1019,68329,524118,098177,145
1159,04988,573354,294531,439
12177,147265,720106,2882159,4321
13531,441797,1613,188,6464,782,967

Most ‘movements’ are considered ‘movements’ when they reach four generations in multiple streams, and sustainably add more generations within a relatively short period of time. This is going from spiritual grandparent to spiritual grandchild.

Doing this three times in succession would bring you to twelve generations and would saturate nearly any population segment. While not formalized as a strategy, this process is already being functionally used in some movements. How do we get from here to finishing the task more broadly?

The simple answer is sending same and near-culture workers from a fully developed movement to neighboring district(s). Once there, they start another multi-generational cycle. So, how quickly can a movement like this one ‘send out’?

If they have to wait until Generation 10 and it takes 20 years to get there, we are a long way indeed from finishing the task. On the other hand, if a movement begins sending out workers at, say, generation 4 or 5, and it takes months (not years) to establish the next generation, then the rapid engagement of whole provinces, countries, and regions can be had within one twenty-year cycle.

To summarize, here are three challenges that need to be addressed:

  1. We need to think less about ‘how many generations down’ and think more about ‘is each generation going as wide as possible?’ If a movement has one stream that goes deep and three streams that are ‘sterile’ or who have only a few ‘children’ who never reproduce, it will not become a significant percentage of the population. At the same time, it doesn’t mean each leader has to mentor tens or hundreds. If each leader mentors, say, six, three of whom mentor six, a movement can multiply rapidly.
  2. We need to think about how we speed up the next generation at each turn (i.e., months not years for leaders to begin mentoring their own ‘3’). By keeping all leaders in coaching relationships with each other, spiritual maturity can be further grown over time. I didn’t wait until I knew everything I know now (at 50) to have children. Walking the path together from an early stage is better than waiting to walk at all.
  3. We need to intentionally speed up the sending of leaders to nearby unengaged areas (the next district over). Again, if believers in District A wait until they have reached 100% of the people in District A before sending to District B, the whole world will end up waiting forever.

This article was originally published by Justin Long on his website justinlong.org

Going Out Among the Lost

Evan and Anna, BEYOND’s Austronesian field leaders, recently shared tips on how they purposely go out among the lost to share the love of Christ. One of the ways they do this is by praying for the felt needs of people they meet. Anna shared this recent example from her life.

Anna and Tess, another Beyond missions catalyst, were in a sunny Austronesian cafe looking for the person or people they felt the Lord would lead them to talk with. Earlier that morning, they had prayed, “God, give us the sensitivity to know the exact felt need of whomever You will lead us to.”

Before long, a couple at the cafe caught their attention. The women started a conversation, sharing upfront that they were followers of Isa (Jesus). They found the couple to be friendly and polite. In the course of talking, Anna and Tess both noticed that the topic of last year’s earthquake sparked something in the couple.

Anna mentioned that she and her husband, Evan, had been on the island during the earthquake, and they too had experienced some fear because of it. They stayed, however, because of their love for the SaSumBi people and, more importantly, God’s love for the SaSumBi people. 

Right away, this couple teared up, and both of them began talking, expressing their thoughts and feelings on the earthquake in rapid-fire conversation. Anna and Tess looked back and forth between the husband and wife trying to keep up with what each of them was saying. “The flow was just uncorked,” Anna recalls. “Obviously, this was the felt need.”

So Anna transitioned the conversation towards spiritual matters by saying, “You clearly have some intense feelings about the earthquake still. And many people are struggling with trauma. Can I tell you a story that’s been really powerful in my own life?” Eagerly, the couple responded, “Yes!” and Anna shared the story of Jesus calming the storm.

The couple agreed that they had heard from the Koran that Isa has the power to heal the sick and raise the dead. When Anna offered to pray for the couple in the name of Isa, therefore, they agreed. With palms up and eyes open, Anna and Tess prayed for them in the matchless name of Jesus.

The couple expressed a desire to hear more. Since Tess had to return to her family on another island, Anna suggested they meet with Evan and herself. “We can come here and talk with your family. Gather them, and let’s talk further about how God understands our hearts and knows our needs. He’s committed to pursue us and meet us exactly where we are.”

Please be praying as Evan and Anna share more about Isa with this couple and their family.

*pseudonyms use

When Persecution Becomes Celebration

The Bhojpuri movement is an ongoing Church Planting Movement in North India. Persecution is a common component of becoming a follower of Jesus in India. The following excerpt illustrates the commitment of new believers in the midst of persecution and how God chose to intervene in one case. It comes to us from the book Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying by Victor John, an Indian movement leader who Beyond has had the privilege of working with and learning from. It is co-authored by Dave Coles, an encourager and resourcer of Church Planting Movements serving with Beyond. 

In the 2001 persecution, one group of believers received threats that they would be forced to reconvert to Hinduism in a ceremony called *Ghar Wapsi. The people threatening them said, “On a particular day, we will come and re-convert you to Hinduism.” So on that day, five Hindu priests came from Varanasi. Their team set up a tent, prepared food, and readied cow urine for purification of the Christians reconverting back to Hinduism. They arranged everything and forced everyone to come out of their houses and attend the gathering. 

As the ceremony began, the priests used a public-address (PA) system to make abusive speeches against Christians. Suddenly five women in the crowd became demon possessed. They were very violent. The priests threw water on them to try to get rid of the demons. But the women became even more violent. So the five priests got scared. They packed up their things, got in their car and returned to Varanasi. 

The stage was set up, people had gathered, they had the tent and PA system, and the food was prepared. Everything was ready for a celebration. So the believers cast out the demons and the five women were delivered. Then the believers went up on the stage and used the PA system to preach the good news and share their testimonies. They said, “We followed Jesus because of our own free choice; not because of any inducements or any other reasons.” Many people came to faith through this and many others became sympathizers of the good news. Meanwhile, the newspapers printed a picture of the tent that had been set up and falsely reported that 200 people had been reconverted back to Hinduism! 

Pray for ongoing movements in India and around the world. Pray for new believers as they commit to obey Jesus as Lord knowing they must be ready to face persecution.

Want another story about the Bhojpuri?  Read about a girl raised from the dead! 

Excerpted from Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying  by Victor John with Dave Coles (Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2019)

 1. According to Wikipedia, “Ghar Wapsi (Hindi, meaning “Home Coming”) is a series of religious conversion activities…to facilitate conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism.” The article “India: ‘Ghar Wapsi’ [a Return Home] and the Not-so-veiled Threat of the Sangh” reports: “I have had occasion to document Ghar Wapsi events in various villages of Orissa . . . where the process has involved shaving off the head of men and women, their purification through a mixture of cow dung and cow urine, the chanting of mantras around the fire and, wherever possible, the burning of “alien” books such as the Bible….My own observations after field studies are of Ghar Wapsi as a movement that uses armed force and violence, certainly the threat of violence, towards a conversion of neo-Christians to Hinduism.”

“Did God Answer this Prayer 15 Years Ago?”

Recently, Brian and Allison*, Beyond mission catalysts in Austronesia, learned of answers to prayers they and their partners began praying back in 2004! They had challenged their team to pray for several critical components of seeing a movement to Christ start among their unreached people group. Among the prayer requests, they asked their partners to pray for dreams and visions of Jesus to be granted to their focus people.

Earlier this year, 15 years later, Brian and Allison learned of multiple dreams of Jesus among their group – dreams dating back to 2004! One new believer had three dreams of Jesus in 2004 and 2005…the very same time that everyone began praying! One of Brian and Allison’s local teammates is now meeting with this man and discipling him face-to-face. The team is confident that there are many other answered prayers like this one that they have yet to know about!

Starting any ministry with prayer is vital. It is futile to launch into our work, relying on our efforts alone! How much better it would be to first ask God for His plan, His guidance, and His supernatural power to do what only He can do. We are then free to move in sync with Him as He guides us. To launch a movement of disciples who reproduce and transform their society is a God-sized goal, and only God can accomplish it. 

Join us for Beyond’s next Nugget training entitled “Who’s job is it? The Necessity of Prayer in Missions” on September 12th at 7:00 pm CST. Together we will examine the role of prayer in movements, and share strategies for increasing the quality and quantity of our prayers. 

*pseudonyms used